Talk of succession in Zimbabwe can be a powder keg waiting to explode especially when such talk is posed as a question to Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian leader, President Robert Mugabe.
After recent reports, however, it seems that such talk is about to explode more in public circles. What has made the diference you might ask? Well, President Robert Mugabe’s wife and Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, on Thursday said that her 93-year old husband should name a successor.
Besides being the President’s wife and therefore having her words carry some meaningful impact, Grace Mugabe had previously said earlier in the year that her husband could rule from the grave. In her words; “If God decides to take him, then we would rather field him as a corpse” in the upcoming election.
She made the comment about President Robert Mugabe choosing a successor while addressing the members of the ruling ZANU-PF party women’s league. It was the first time that she had ever publicly urged her husband to name a successor. She said that it “will enable all members to rally behind one candidate.”
What remains unclear is whether she meant the statement in connection to next year’s election. Grace Mugabe heads the ZANU-PF women’s league and has become increasingly powerful in politics.
She has been headlining her own political rallies since 2014 and has made decisions that have even been respected over those of the country’s vice presidents.
It is also unclear whether she still has the ambition of being Mugabe’s successor. On some occasions she has said that she has no issues becoming Zimbabwe’s President and on some others she has denied having such ambitions. She did, however, say on Thursday that her husband’s choice on successor should be final claiming that naming a successor “has been the trend in other countries.”
President Robert Mugabe has, however, repeatedly insisted that he will not choose a successor and nothing seems to have changed on his intention to contest next year’s election. In fact, some analysts have suggested that the now frail President could call an early election.
ZANU-PF’s secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, said last month that the President could call an election in February or March, although, he can only do that if Parliament chooses to dissolve itself. The constitution, however, stipulates that the earliest date President Robert Mugabe can call an election is in July 2018.