Before she landed herself in hot diplomatic water by allegedly attacking a South African model with a power cord, Zimbabwe’s notoriously ill-tempered first lady, Grace Mugabe, joined the clamour for her aged husband Robert to name a successor.
Curiously, she also called for a female vice president, stirring up rumours that she’s positioning herself for a presidential bid in 2023, not next year.
That may take her name off a growing list of potential successors to one of the world’s oldest presidents.
Mugabe still plans to be his ZANU-PF party’s presidential candidate in 2018, but were he to win and complete a full term he would be 99 years old.
A new potential candidate to succeed him is political veteran Sydney Sekeramayi, seemingly endorsed by the Generation 40 group long associated with Grace.
As with his rival presidential hopeful Emmerson Mnangagwa, the septugenarian Sekeramayi does not represent a new generation.
What both men stand for is the liberation generation’s last chance to redeem itself after Mugabe, before the “born frees” or “young frees” finally get to build a future their elders seem unable to imagine.
At the start of August, Robert Mugabe took a call from an emeritus of another liberation movement: the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
Rumours abounded that Mbeki semi-officially endorsed Mnangagwa as South Africa’s preferred successor.
South Africa needs guaranteed stability on its northern borders.
Pretoria can be expected to throw its lot in with the man who out guns the others, and Mnangagwa’s strong historical links with the military make him perhaps the strongest contender.
Continued next page