The ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Monday dismissed reports Mr. Mugabe would step down soon if he were to win the next election to hand over power to a loyal successor who would safeguard his interests and protect him from prosecution for alleged human rights violations during his long tenure.
The Sunday Times of South Africa reported that Mr. Mugabe intends to do whatever it takes to win re-election, then pick long-time ally Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to finish his term as a way to end the volatile question of his succession.
Citing unnamed senior ZANU-PF officials, the paper said Mugabe’s strategy was driven by the fear of retiring without guarantees as to his personal security.
Observers say Mnangagwa would be a perfect choice for Mugabe as he is a member of the all powerful Joint Operations Command which comprises senior security service chiefs and is said to be actively pushing for the re-election of the 87-year-old Mugabe.
But ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the Mugabe retirement story is not true.
National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the strategy outlined by the Sunday Times would work only if ZANU-PF can win enough seats in the next elections to exercise a parliamentary majority to choose an interim president - if the revised Zimbabwean constitution adopts the present succession mechanism.