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Zimbabwe: Power struggle as Zanu PF conference begins

By Nqobile Bhebhe
Posted on Tuesday, 8 December 2015 12:49

The week-long conference, which is expected to draw 6,000 delegates, promises to be a stormy affair for the party, as Mugabe’s succession and the failing economy have already raised tempers.

We must not be spreading rumours about a lot of things

Two distinct camps have emerged in the party and none of them appears ready to make any concessions. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe are seen by many analysts as rivals in the battle to succeed Mugabe, 92 in February.

But both deny they have such ambitions, although Grace warned her rivals not to count her out of the race to succeed her husband.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo on Monday said “politics” was not on the agenda at the annual meet.

“I want to emphasise that this is not an elective conference,” he explained. “It is only the congress that is elective. We must not be spreading rumours about a lot of things.”

However, events leading to the conference suggest that politics will not be ignored.

Officially, the conference will simply confirm Mugabe as party leader and sole candidate for elections in 2018. He’ll be 94 then, but his wife Grace has promised she’ll push the long-time leader to the polls “in a wheelchair” if necessary.

A former typist, Grace (50) has emerged as the iron lady behind her now faltering husband and her own political ambitions are increasingly hard to ignore. Last week she declared that Mugabe’s deputies were her juniors.

The powerful party women’s league, which she heads, is angling for the conference to reintroduce the requirement for one of the Zanu PF’s top three to be a woman, a development that could end Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe.

And that woman would almost certainly be the first lady.

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