Zanu PF must ugently resolve succession – Biti

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe could be on the brink of suffering a series of military coups as witnessed in Somalia if political in-fighting continues, the country's finance minister has warned.

Tendai Biti claims the country is on the brink of serious conflict due to the failure of the Zanu-PF party to find a successor for president Robert Mugabe and other senior political figures.

Speaking at a meeting held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, to review his mid-term fiscal policy statement, Mr Biti told business leaders that the failure by the party to resolve its succession debate could result in feuding factions which may ultimately resort to military coups to claim power.

"The succession debate in Zanu-PF should be resolved very urgently as it can result in a military coup in this country. It is not a secret that there is chaos in Zanu-PF about succession," he said.

"We don’t want a military coup because of a failure to replace the leadership.

"With the kind of a history of violence and brutality associated with Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe will be like Somalia and Ivory Coast if the succession issue is not urgently dealt with…a failure to deal with this issue will affect future generations of Zimbabwe."

Somalia and Ivory Coast both continue to face instability due to long-running political crises.

In May, the Zanu PF politburo, the party’s highest decision-making body, set up a committee to look into the issue of choosing new leaders.

Analysts said it was the clearest sign yet that the party could finally open debate on the election of a successor for the 85-year-old leader.

However last month, Mugabe was declared a supreme leader of Zanu-PF by one of the feuding factions led by defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, effectively dealing a severe blow to any hopes of a leadership renewal of the party that has led the country since 1980.

The issue of selecting Mugabe’s successor has threatened to split Zimbabwe’s former ruling party amid behind-the-scenes jostling by party heavyweights for the top post.

The infighting worsened following Zanu PF’s dismal performance in last year’s elections where it lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mugabe also lost the first round of the presidential elections to his then rival Morgan Tsvangirai, a setback that forced him into a coalition government.

The 85 year-old has said he would not step down until he is convinced that his departure will not lead to the collapse of Zanu PF.