Zanu PF Harare province has said it is going to mobilise other provinces to support calls by First Lady Grace Mugabe that her ailing husband President Robert Mugabe “anoint” a successor.

On Saturday, Grace repeated her calls for Mugabe, 93, to name his heir. Grace had earlier challenged her president husband at a women’s league national assembly meeting on Thursday to name his preferred successor, to end divisions over the future leadership of the ruling Zanu PF party.

Africa’s oldest leader has lorded over the former British colony since independence in 1980, but has refused to name a successor saying that congress, not himself, will choose his eventual successor.

In an unsolicited interview, Harare province political commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe told the Daily News yesterday that they stand ready to support the proposal.

“We support what the first lady said, we know that there are some people who are opposed to that but because the president has been there for a long time, he must have a say on who succeeds him.

“We believe that the president should anoint a successor. As Harare province, we are going to mobilise supporters, we will also encourage other provinces to follow suit. The person who will be anointed can then be confirmed by the conference or congress,” Mashayamombe said.

Zanu PF is presently split between the Team Lacoste and G40 faction to which Mashayamombe is reportedly a key member. The women’s league has been pushing for the amendment of the party’s constitution to ensure that one of the two vice presidents is a woman.

Mugabe indicated last week that he prefers to have three vice presidents. After the first lady raised concern, as the secretary for women’s affairs, that Zanu PF should revert to its resolutions that one vice president’s position be reserved for women, Mugabe retorted: “I was thinking that other countries have more than two. Why can’t we have three deputies and correct this position that way?

 “Think about it. Two choices, one to revert to our position of two VPs and one being a lady, but another of adding another position of a VP and we have three VPs and one woman. Think of those mere suggestions when we go to congress as you like, but think it out and we discuss at congress, but certainly we have offended you and I must apologise for that.”

Respected University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure has said Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who reportedly fronts Team Lacoste stands to lose his presidential bid if Mugabe anoints a successor, who is emerging in some circles as Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi.

“That (Sekeramayi taking over) is a serious proposition, the likelihood of that happening is very high but it has to be done while the president is still alive, it cannot be done post-Mugabe. He must do it now so that he will engineer the whole process then market his pick, not to Zimbabwe but to the key constituencies in his party.

“I don’t see that happening after he is gone. If there is a worst case scenario that he is incapacitated or dies, I think the key beneficiary is likely to be Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s moniker), the dark horse scenario can only be implemented by Mugabe by anointing someone and galvanising support for that candidate,” Masunungure said.

At a youth interface meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday, Grace reiterated her calls for Mugabe to anoint a successor, much to the consternation of the Team Lacoste faction .

“The president is still fit. I know the Constitution very well (as) I am educated. We elected president Mugabe but what I was saying, when the president said he needs to rest (is that) he must be part of the process (of choosing his successor), whether you want it or not.

“He is our president who was chosen by the people to lead us, so he is going to lead us in choosing (his successor). You heard Kudzanai (Chipanga) saying everything starts with Amai, munhu wese kunaAmai. Without his (Mugabe’s) blessings, you can’t be the president of this country. We are going to meet next time — watch this space,” Grace told a bumper crowd of Zanu PF supporters in Chinhoyi.

Speaking at the same platform, Mugabe also indicated that he might be planning to make changes at the top of the military establishment where the generals are believed to support Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.

“We respect our defence forces, especially those who are at the top. Of course they will retire but we are going to find them room in government so that they do not languish,” Mugabe said. Daily News