WASHINGTON DC —
A senior ruling Zanu-PF politburo member says President Robert Mugabe is the most suitable person to lead both the African Union and Southern African Development Community at this point in time as pressure mounts on the AU to give him a pass as chairman of the continental body at the summit that is currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Former cabinet minister and politburo member, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, says Mr Mugabe is the best candidate to lead Africa. “I think President Mugabe is the most suitable person to lead both SADC and Africa at this point in time.
"He has got a wealthy of experience in dealing with challenges. He has been in power for over 30 years. He led a war of liberation. He understands the challenges any African country can face both politically and economically,” Mangwana said.
But political analyst Blessing Vava differs with Mangwana saying Mr. Mugabe will focus more on foreign policy than try to solve Harare’s economic problems.
He says, “It’s a lot on President Mugabe’s table, as you know that Mr. Mugabe is not very much worried about what is happening in Zimbabwe. You know how for a fact that he is just coming from a holiday, a holiday that he went while the people of Zimbabwe are facing lot of economic challenges. His party Zanu-PF is facing a lot of challenges…he is a man who does not mind about his problems at home, but is much more interested in globetrotting.”
Mr. Mugabe is tipped to chair the AU even as tensions are rising in his ruling Zanu-PF party and the country is being described by some think tanks as fast becoming a failing state.
Last year, Mr. Mugabe was elected First Vice-Chair of the African Union Bureau, a supreme organ of the African Union which is tasked with stirring the agenda of the organization with the assistance of the African Union Commission.
President Mugabe represents southern Africa in his new post, with four other members selected from West, North, East, and Central Africa. His appointment as first vice chair of the bureau makes him eligible for the chairmanship of the African Union this year.
Some African non-governmental organizations expressed concern at Mr. Mugabe assuming the role, citing his alleged tainted human rights record.
President Mugabe, who turns 91 on February 21, has ruled Zimbabwe for 35 years and has over the years been accused of election rigging and the arrest and intimidation of his opponents.
Mr. Mugabe’s African roles could be a welcome diversionary therapy from domestic troubles, with the economy showing no sign of recovery and tensions rising in his political party.
Tension is again escalating in Zanu-PF as political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere tries to restructure the party after the ouster of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies.
But his attempts at restructuring the party has caused further friction in Bulawayo, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Masvingo. Party officials are sharply divided on whether to expel the Mujuru allies or force them “repent" for their so-called political sins.