Cephas Msipa was regarded as one of President Mugabe’s closest friends in his lifetime.
He died at the age of 85 after he retired from politics about 10 years ago. He had been known to press President Mugabe to retire.
Cephas Msipa felt that President Mugabe should relinquish the reins of the Presidency of Zimbabwe, telling a local Zimbabwean newspaper in an interview given earlier this year;
“I feel sorry for him as a friend. He really needs a rest. It’s good for him, good for his family and good for the party.”
President Mugabe was in attendance at his burial on Saturday and even gave an hour long speech on the occasion. He avoided any mention of the controversial subject of his friend asking him to step down as he had through Cephas Msipa’s lifetime.
Mugabe instead used the hour long speech to dwell on Cephas Msipa’s (former cabinet minister and ZANU-PF member) role in the 1960s-70s liberation struggle. Paying him a compliment, the President said that “Msipa was always an honest man and he always spoke his mind fearlessly.”
The President must be right in that description because it takes a fearless man, friend or not, to ask the 92 year old President to step down. Mugabe is eligible to seek re-election at the end of his current five-year term in 2018 and although he is looking increasingly frail, he has neither shown nor voiced any inclination to step back and allow another candidate in his ruling ZANU-PF party to succeed him.
This is despite the increasing dissent in Zimbabwe where protests and strikes have become a regular occurence as the people agitate for change.
Meanwhile, splits have developed in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF over who will take over from him. One arm is attempting to impose his wife Grace as a possible successor while others are taking the side of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime political fixer who has the backing of war veterans.