Moyo berates Mnangagwa over Mugabe obituary remark as the end beckons

EVEN as President Robert Mugabe was clearly struggling to walk, pausing every few seconds for breath at the Heroes Acre on Saturday, Jonathan Moyo was taking issue with an unguarded remark by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa regarding the Zanu PF leader’s age.

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Clearly aware that Mugabe’s biological clock may be ticking its last, the veteran leader’s wife Grace last week said Zimbabweans would miss the 91-year-old when he is gone.

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But when Mnangagwa, in an interview with the UK-based New African magazine made similar remarks, Moyo took to Twitter to criticise the vice president.

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“We shall miss him (Mugabe) dearly. He is an outstanding leader and human being,” said Mnangagwa in the interview last week.

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And it was the hint of an impending end which appeared to grate with Moyo.

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Said the higher education minister: “VP Mnangagwa on President Mugabe: ‘We shall miss him dearly’. Rather premature to say!”

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Told by a follower that Mnangagwa was simply “accepting the inevitable”, Moyo was adamant.

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He said: “The inevitable is the truth of everyone & so there is no telling who is going to die before who!”

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Another follower insisted: “… death comes to us all, nd wen it does, 2day/50yrs from now, you guys will miss him.”

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Moyo responded: “Of course death is certain but how does anyone know who is going to die first & therefore who is going to miss who?”

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Sections of the ruling Zanu PF party have been keen to project the idea that Mnangagwa is now in pole position to take over from Mugabe and that he may, as first deputy, even be the veteran leader’s preferred successor.

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But Moyo has used media interviews to make clear that Mnangagwa is merely one of Mugabe’s two assistants, adding that his chances of taking over are as good as those of any other party member.

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His interventions have been seen as suggesting that he may not be not overly enthused with the idea of a Mnangagwa presidency, a claim Moyo denies.

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In his interview with the New African, Mnangagwa admitted that the succession contest was still open to all party members, adding his position as vice president does not privilege his chances over other party members.

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I told you so, said Moyo on Twitter.

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“Cde Mnangagwa says his VP job is to assist Pres Mugabe,” he wrote.

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Last week First Lady, Grace Mugabe, told a gathering at Murombedzi Growth Point in Zvimba that the country would miss the veteran leader when he is gone, according to reports.

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Grace’s remarks came amid continued factionalism within the ruling Zanu-PF party, as many positioned themselves to take over from President Robert Mugabe, 91, when he finally leaves office.

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“There will come a day when [president] Mugabe will not be there and people will regret and miss his leadership,” the state-owned Heraldnewspaper quoted Grace as saying.

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The first lady said the nonagenarian had made huge sacrifices for the country and wanted the best for the future generations.

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“Not many people are able to make the sacrifices he [Mugabe] makes. He puts his all to represent his people. He is someone who wants the best for the present and future generations,” she said.

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A few weeks ago, Grace made headlines when she told a crowd at a function in Binga, Matabeleland north province, that God was not convinced by the calibre of would-be successors of her husband, which was why he continued to lead the country.

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Chaotic land reforms

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Grace suggested that Mugabe continued to labour in office at the age of 91 because God wanted him to.

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Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. His Zanu-PF party has already endorsed him to stand in the 2018 presidential elections, when he will be 94.

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Mugabe’s critics say he has destroyed what was, at independence, one of Africa’s most promising economies.

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They cite policy missteps and his violent and chaotic land reform programme as some of the factors that have caused turmoil in the country’s economy.

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The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, however, said on Thursday that it was time for Zimbabwe to look beyond the “Mugabe must go” hype.

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“Mugabe is now ‘yesterday’s’ man and Zimbabweans should start preparing for a post – Mugabe era. Look, the man is 91 and he is clearly not in the best state of both physical and mental health. We now have to develop policies that go beyond the ‘Mugabe must go’ hype,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told News24.

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The southern African country is currently reeling under severe economic hardships which have seen more than 20 000 people losing their jobs in the past month.

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Mugabe’s state of the nation address (Sona) early this week reportedly gave no hope for Zimbabweans as he failed to address issues related to job creation.

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