Some Zanu PF youth in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province say they want President Robert Mugabe to rule until he dies.
Their remarks are coming at a time when some war veterans recently endorsed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as President Mugabe’s heir apparent, saying he is the most senior person in the party to take over from the 92 year-old Zimbabwean leader, who has been in power for 36 years.
Mubuso Chinguno, chairperson of the ruling party’s provincial Youth League, described the war veterans’ move as treasonous, stressing that no-one should be declared President Mugabe’s successor until he dies.
Chinguno attacked the war veterans said to be aligned to the Mnangagwa faction of party for going around Zimbabwe announcing the endorsement of the vice president as Mr. Mugabe’s successor.
He said there is currently no vacancy in the presidium, adding that they expect the president to die in office like his late deputies Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo.
“First and foremost we in the Zanu PF party agreed from the onset that Cde Mugabe is our first secretary, president and also our candidate come 2018 elections; so the talk of endorsing people that is happening is being stubborn, rebellious, it’s the same as organizing a coup, its equally treasonous as well,” he said.
But ex-combatant, Irvine Mbengo, and a member of Manicaland provincial executive of former freedom fighters, said a decision to have Mr. Mugabe rule to his grave cannot be made by a small group of Zanu PF youth.
Mbengo said such a decision should be broad-based and can be reached through a national referendum. He added that Zimbabwe, being a parliamentary democracy, has to subscribe to tenets of modern democracy with people making their own leadership choices.
“The way forward on this is to hold democratic elections within the party or country, or a referendum, just like the controversial bond notes we need to do same, and the best way when one needs to introduce a controversial issue it has to be by a majority vote or referendum again.”
Llyod Munguma, a political activist based in Manicaland province, described as misguided the Zanu PF youth’s suggestions that Mr. Mugabe should rule until he dies.
“I think that is unacceptable and also totally nonsensical and as youths we are fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe, we are the future leaders and some bring up such a sick proposal that Mr. Mugabe dies in office. I find it quite absurd to say the least.”
MDC-T Manicaland provincial spokesperson and Mutasa Central member of the National Assembly, Trevor Saruwaka, said such a call from the ruling party youth is regrettable.
“I think that’s a shame for the youngsters to make such a statement because as far as we are aware Mr. Mugabe has run his race and he is far past his sale by date and is now a liability to this country. What we expect from the youths is for them to call for his resignation. Zimbabwe cannot continue to live in the past, we need to forge ahead.”
Last month, the Zanu PF youth organized what they called a One-Million-Man-March to show their allegiance to the ageing leader and asked President Mugabe to ensure that they get residential stands and land for agricultural purposes, among several other issues.
Two ruling party factions – one allegedly led by Mnangagwa and another by First Lady Grace Mugabe – are said to be fighting over the succession of Mr. Mugabe. The two have dismissed suggestions that they habour presidential ambitions.