Ousted President Robert Mugabe won't be on Zimbabwe’s election ballot this year for the first time in many years, but analysts say President Emmerson Mnangagwa will still have to campaign in the shadow of the 94-year-old's lasting presence.
At his first press conference this week since being ousted last November, Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, spent most of his time attacking his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who he accused of betrayal and removing him through a coup.
"I do not hate Emmerson. I brought him into government, I would want to work with him, but he must be proper," he said. "He is improper where he is, illegal. We must undo this disgrace, which we have imposed on ourselves. We don’t deserve it. Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve it. We must obey the law. People must be chosen to be in government in a proper way. I am willing to discuss, but I must be invited in a proper way. ”
Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe for 37 years, said he was “lonely” and ruled out running in this year’s elections, expected between July and August. President Mnangagwa’s office dismissed claims Friday that Mugabe had been forced to resign.
At his 94th birthday celebration, Mugabe complained about the way he was being treated by his predecessor. That led President Mnangagwa to say, “The former president, we see in the media about speculation about his various activities. In no time, the facts and reality will be known. But currently, we aren’t happy with what the media is saying. But it’s an issue we are examining.”
Since then ZANU-PF, the party Mugabe formed in the 1960s, has denounced him.
Those are ruling ZANU-PF youths, saying “Down with Mugabe,” something similar to what Mugabe would say about his political enemy just a few months ago.
But analyst Alexander Rusero of Harare Polytechnic College School of Journalism has this advice for President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who is affectionately known as E.D. in Zimbabwe.
“The best advice I can give to E.D. is to remain calm," he said. "Not to engage in reactionary politics. Because when Mugabe sneezes, they catch cold. They will be playing into his hands. His strategy will be working. Because they [Mnangagwa] have made regional, international community consent, regardless of the way they took power. And any form of reaction would jeopardize what they have achieved in a short period of time.”
Mnangagwa came to power in November riding on military pressure that forced Mugabe to end his rule of Zimbabwe. Mugabe has since said he will back Mnangagwa's opposition made up of Mugabe's allies within the ZANU-PF party.