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S. Africa's ANC Sees Risk in Declining Health of Zimbabwean President Mugabe

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the former ruling party is not concerned about what will happen if and when Mr. Mugabe leaves office, saying that the question will be dealt with at that time

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has expressed concern that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's reportedly declining health could set back efforts to resolve the country's crisis should he “die or resign” before a new constitution is in place.

South African President Jacob Zuma, also president of the ANC party, is mediating talks between Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.

The party said Tuesday in its newsletter, ANC Today, that facilitators working with Mr. Zuma to bring ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations together on a range of issues, worry that a succession struggle in ZANU-PF could put paid to such efforts.

Presidential and general elections to replace the troubled government of national unity in Harare could also be further delayed, the official ANC publication observed.

Mr. Mugabe has traveled to Singapore five times since December for, some observers believe, treatment there for prostate cancer - though his spokesman, George Charamba, says the president has only received medical care for an eye cataract.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the former ruling party is not worried about what will happen if and when Mr. Mugabe leaves office, saying that the question will be dealt with at that time.

"We'll cross the bridge when we get to it. We don't speculate and we don't anticipate," Gumbo said. He refused to take questions on President Mugabe's health.

Johannesburg-based political analyst Zenzo Nkomo said Pretoria is seriously concerned about Zimbabwe’s future, adding that if Mugabe should die in office, that would most likely be politically advantageous to the Movement for Democratic Change.

Harare-based commentator Charles Mangongera told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the unresolved issue of Mugabe’s succession is a time bomb for ZANU-PF.

"The implosion of ZANU-PF as a party would be less worrying for Zimbabweans. But my fear is that because each one faction controls a chunk of the establishment, that is a recipe for armed conflict in the country," Mangongera said.

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