Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dismissed speculation that he is “the leading candidate” to succeed President Mugabe and says he is merely assisting the President and his position is no guarantee that he will succeed him. In a wide-ranging interview with the London-based New African magazine, VP Mnangagwa said Zanu-PF has processes to choose its leaders and it may be myopic even for those perceived to be within touching distance of State House to take ascension for granted.
He dismissed those running succession permutations as uninformed. “I think they are outside Zanu-PF,” he said. “Those inside Zanu-PF know that being Vice President or being a member of the Politburo or Central Committee is not a stepping-stone to becoming President. Not at all.
“A President is elected at the party congress. There are no conditions that you must be at this level or that level to become President. The condition is that you must be a member of Zanu-PF, and anybody can become a member of Zanu-PF. So you can’t say that because I am Vice President or a member of the Politburo or a member of the Central Committee, I am nearer to becoming President,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He said impatience ruins presidential prospects. “You see, you can be on the road between the State House and Zim House, the President’s official residence across the road. You can throw a stone into the yard of the State House when you are on that road, but someone walking from here to China will arrive first before you arrive in State House if you are on that road. So that is what it is. That is how far it is!”
In the wide-ranging interview, VP Mnangagwa outlines how he has been an assistant to President Mugabe since the days of the liberation struggle. The Vice President’s position is another one of assisting the President, he suggests and an extra “burden” since he also oversees the Justice Ministry. “It is quite a burden, especially coming on top of my new responsibilities as Vice President. Being a new position, I am learning the ropes to assist the President in running the country. Yes, it has been joyful to work, but it has been hard work,” he says.
VP Mnangagwa says there is democracy in the ruling Zanu-PF and the infighting and factionalism that have been witnessed in the party are a reflection of democracy. “Zanu (PF) is democratic,” he said.
“If you create a democratic situation where people are allowed to think freely, people will not agree on anything, and this is where the healthiness of the party is. This is why the party has survived for 52 years now. It is because we allow internal debate. People debate, they disagree, agree, and agree to disagree. Others get thrown out. This is what it is . . . But when it comes to issues, we differ in order to arrive at the best solution for the party, the best way forward, the best way to arrive at the correct line to preserve the party, the best way to lead the people.
“That is the reason. It is not creating enemies. It is creating the environment where you are allowed to air your foolishness or wisdom.” The VP’s pronouncements dovetail into similar stands by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and Zanu-PF Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere who have all openly stated that they do not harbour any presidential ambitions and that President Mugabe is the sole centre of power.
Opposition media and figures have tried to paint cat-fights between Zanu-PF leaders in a supposed race to succeed President Mugabe.