The Zimbabwean army reportedly forced President Robert Mugabe to end his wife’s ambition to succeed him, warning that her presidential campaign may spark violence.
Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organization Director General Happyton Bonyongwe advised Mugabe against his wife’s, Grace, efforts to succeed him, adding that she faces opposition from within the military, according to Bloomberg.
Of late, Grace, often referred to as “the first lady from hell,” has been publicly criticized Zimbabwean independence veterans, who have been the greatest supporters of President Mugabe since he took power in 1980. However, some of these veterans, who form a huge chunk of ruling party ZANU-PF, have recently condemned Mugabe for “mismanaging the country.”
In response, Mugabe reportedly asked his wife to refrain from attacking the veterans and urged her to support her main political rival, Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Control of the military and security apparatus is a key factor in deciding who holds the reins politically. As things stand, it seems like Mnangagwa has the upper hand,” Showers Mawowa, the deputy director of theSouthern African Liaison Office, a civil rights group, said.
Succession Politics & Party Division
Lately, 93-year-old Mugabe has been facing serious rebellion from a section of Zimbabweans, including members of his own party, who are accusing him of bungling the country’s economy.
This accusation comes on the heels of widespread unemployment, a cash shortage, and the collapse of basic services in the South African country.
Many — including independence veterans — have been calling on Mugabe to retire, saying he has lost touch with the economic realities of the country.
But the veteran president, who has ruled the country for more than 36 years, has promised to vie for another term in office in the 2018 polls, with some of his supporters wanting him to rule for life.
But even as Mugabe continues to hold on to power, his overall health appears to be deteriorating, with some pundits suspecting that he may not be able to rule for another five-year term.
This has caused jitters within ZANU-PF, with leaders now competing to succeed him. A segment of the veterans appear to be supporting vice-president Mnagagwa, while a faction of younger party officials known as “Generation-40” is backing the first lady.
Grace, who formerly worked as President Mugabe’s secretary before marrying him in 1996, officially joined politics in 2014, when ZANU-PF elected her as the leader of its women’s league.
Mugabe has condemned the infighting, saying it is confusing to the electorate and threatens the party’s chances against a newly formed opposition alliance led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.