As if this was not humiliating enough, he lost his parliamentary seat of 20 years in Kwekwe to little known Blessing Chebundo of the Movement for Democratic Change. He has largely survived because of political patronage from President Mugabe. Also conveniently being ignored was the constitutional reality, that President Mugabe can only be succeeded by one of his vice-presidents, in this case Simon Muzenda or Joseph Msika. And even if one of his lieutenants takes over, elections have to be held within 90 days. Also being conveniently ignored was the fact that changing the constitution requires a two-thirds majority. Right now, neither the ruling ZANU-PF nor the opposition MDC commands that majority which means the two parties would have to collaborate to change the constitution to allow the transitional period.
But it made good reading and was a good test for public opinion. The issue of Mugabe's succession has been on the cards for more than a decade but he has continued to defy the odds. Serious challengers like former Masvingo ruling party supremo Eddison Zvobgo have fallen by the wayside. Nathan Shamuyarira, one of those who once aspired for high office, gave up and quit government to concentrate on the party. Mugabe has literally killed all the power bases that his lieutenants had established to ensure a smooth succession. Committees of 18, 21 and so on, that flourished in the 1980s, are gone.
The name of Mnangagwa has, however, continued to touted, with the only other name that has popped in and out being that of Simba Makoni who most people believed would be groomed for leadership when he left the Southern African Development Community where he had been secretary general for 10 years. Fires were set burning when he was appointed minister of the powerful post of finance, and a new cabinet of young Turks was set up. But that has all fizzled out.
Ironically the story was broken locally by the Sunday Mirror, a paper owned by Ibbo Mandaza. While British papers which lifted the story tried to give it credence by claiming that the paper is close to the ruling ZANU-PF, whispers say while this may be true to some extent, Mandaza is very close to security Minister Sidney Sekeremayi, a smooth, quiet operator but one of the serious contenders in the succession plan.
While local media analysts tried to play down the British press's involvement claiming the Sunday Mirror had broken the story, it was indeed broken by a British paper, the fortnightly Africa Confidential of 10 January. The World Socialist Website (WSWS) describes the fortnightly as being "close to British intelligence and African business interests".
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