Despite the frenzied speculation within President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu-PF that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations are now dead in the water, former ruling party spokesperson and Cabinet minister, Rugare Gumbo, says the Midlands godfather “may be down but definitely not out”.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday in an interview yesterday, the forthright Gumbo who is now a senior official in the troubled Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) said he had no doubt that Zanu-PF’s succession riddle still had many twists and turns to come.

Madyira, as Gumbo is fondly referred to – and who worked with both Mugabe and Mnangagwa for many decades, before and after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 – also said it was “folly” to assume that Mugabe had shut the door on his deputy succeeding him.

He also said it could not be ruled out that Mnangagwa himself was “playing a game of hide-and-seek” with the nonagenarian, adding that the two men had a strong bond and longstanding relationship which was “only fully understood by them”.

“What is increasingly becoming certain is that Mugabe wants to die in office. When we were still in government he never hinted on his preferred successor and we never pressured him because we assumed that he would soon choose his successor,” he said.

Pressed to say whether he thought Mugabe had nuked Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding him, Gumbo – who was expelled from Zanu-PF in 2014 with many other ruling party bigwigs on untested allegations of plotting to assassinate and topple the nonagenarian from power – said the two men were “sizing and testing each other up”.

“Mugabe has always been a slippery character because of all things he always wanted power the most. While many other liberation movements had a succession plan, Mugabe long decided against coming up with one.

“Still, I wouldn’t say Mnangagwa has been blocked out. However, what I know is that Mugabe and Mnangagwa vakateyanirana mariva (the have set traps for each other). They are playing each other and only time will tell who will win,” he said.

Gumbo, one of only two surviving members of the venerated Dare reChimurenga (liberation war council), also accused Mugabe of having used Mnangagwa “for a very long time”, warning further that continuing to sideline the VP could be “a dangerous game” given Zanu-PF’s current high stakes politics. Daily News