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Mugabe exit plan: in whose interest is it?

This was a question The Insider asked in January 2003. Guess who the key players were! Emmerson Mnangagwa, Morgan Tsvangirai ad Sydney Sekeremayi. Read on to find out what we said they as the succession issue was already hot. And had been going on for a decade!

The plan seems to be very simple and sounds more like a recipe. Get rid of Robert Mugabe. Allow him to go into exile. Bring in Emmerson Mnangagwa. Add opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Form a government of national unity. Pour money into the country to revive the ailing economy. Let this simmer for a transitional period of two years. And hold "free and fair" elections.

It even sounds too good to be true, yet the media ran the story of Mugabe's planned exit for almost a week. Denials by President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the ruling ZANU-PF that the planned exit was just "wishful thinking" went unheeded with the international media, especially the British press, continuing to peddle the story. The question that no one was addressing was: in whose interests was all this?

It was subtly being assumed that this was in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe because they were desperately in need of a solution to the country's economic problems. It was also being subtly suggested that President Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, was the only stumbling block to the country's prosperity, never mind his more than 70 lieutenants who have been slapped with smart sanctions. It was also subtly being implied that Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa was the only person capable of pulling the country out of the doldrums, provided of course he had the backing of defence forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe. All of a sudden Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe were the most powerful people in the ruling ZANU-PF yet, Mnangagwa is number 5 and Zvinavashe does not beat the retired generals, Solomon Mujuru and Josiah Tungamirai.

What was conveniently being ignored was the fact that vice-Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika still play a vital role within the party, though both are in poor health. What was also being conveniently downplayed was that, though once powerful and perhaps Mugabe's Number 2, Mnangagwa has been losing his power base especially within the ruling party. He lost the powerful post of party chairman to John Nkomo at the party congress in 1999.

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