Zim Taboo: Who is Mugabe’s Successor?

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    The issue of Mugabe’s successor has been on the lips of many Africans especially those in Zimbabwe regarding the future of the nation that has known only Mugabe as its ruler since independence from colonial rule in 1980. In the wake of the death of President Mutharika, issues of succession have risen in Malawi and the same concerns resonate in Zimbabwe. 


    MDC President and Zimbabwe Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai is in the running but it is unlikely that the Military Generals and ZANU-PF loyalists in general will receive orders from him without a fight. The military generals have long stated that they would never salute a President Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai is a respected leader in the international community and is viewed as a unifying force in Zimbabwe. Former MDC-M President and Deputy Prime Minister Robotics professor Arthur Mutambara is ambitious and would likely vie for the post of President as well. Mutambara however lacks grassroots support and has been long suspected of being a Trojan horse planted by Mugabe’s Zanu PF to divide and conquer the united opposition to his 32 year rule. Welshman Ncube will probably not be able to draw more than a few thousand votes by himself and has had to helplessly cling onto the MDC name just to remain relevant. 

    Emerson Mnangagwa

    In his ruling political party Zanu PF Mugabe’s successors could possibly be Vice President Joice Mujuru, Emerson Mnagagwa who spearheaded the Gukurahundi genocide, technocrat Simba Makoni. Joice Mujuru once thought to be a serious contender has lost significant influence since her husband died in a mysterious fire in 2011. Her liberation war credentials are relevant of course but women in Zimbabwe are not yet at the level where they have significant power without their husbands.


    Emerson Mnangagwa, nicknamed ‘Garwe’ which is translated to  crocodile in English due to his brutal leadership style in crushing of opposition leaders Mnangagwa is a likely contender who got this nickname due to his reign of terror known as “Gukurahundi” translated the cleansing rain before the beginning of the rainy season during the 1980s ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland. The militia group that he led was known as the ‘5th brigade’ and was trained in North Korea by Kim Jong Um’s grandfather.

    Emerson Mnagagwa certainly has shown the ability to use brutality in his reign in Zimbabwe but in the last election he could not even win a parliamentary seat in his home district showing his unpopularity even in a Zanu PF stronghold. Some have argued that if he cannot win a parliamentary sea how can he win a nation? Mnangagwa lacks charismatic appeal which is common among military personnel he is thought of as out of touch with ordinary Zimbabweans. Mnangagwa is the perfect candidate for the International court at The Hague for crimes against humanity and perhaps not the image that the party would like to convey to the world. The Chinese are putting their money on Mnangagwa who is the current defense minister.


    Just maybe Mugabe’s true likely successor whom he has been grooming is his oldest son Robert Jr. Robert Jr. is over 18 now and maybe he has been groomed by the dictator to take over power. Many have been puzzled by this decision because the young Mugabe would rather play basketball than be involved in politics. To some in the party Robert Jr. lacks the diligence that is needed to become a dictator like his father. No one knows how much clout the Mugabes will yield without their father and with the knowledge that he is not ever coming back again. The successor issue is taboo in Zimbabwe however it is a matter of time when we will all find out.


    Article by Anna Mosi-Oa-Tunya, April 2012