A speech by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe in commemoration of the Day of the African Child has got his political contenders wondering whether the 92-year-old leader, who has held on to power since independence in 1980, is planning to step down sooner than expected.
During his speech to thousands of children in Harare, Mugabe said that he is on his way out and that he wishes for his successors to do a better job with the country’s economy.
“Once upon a time, I was like you, but I am not like you anymore. I am on my way out. But when I look over my shoulder, I would want to see bold and courageous men. I want to look behind and say those coming will be better than me. That is what we always fight to do. To be better than our parents, initially be like them but strive to be better,” Mugabe said.
The shocking revelation has opened discussions over who the Zimbabwean successor could be. So far, there are two known factions: G-40, which is led by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and the Lacoste Team by Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The two leaders are said to be at each other’s throats over the presidential seat even though the Zimbabwean constitution stipulates that Mugabe’s term won’t end until 2022, a provision the veteran president may consider using given his history of clinging to power.
Meanwhile, the London-based Zimbabwe Vigil has protested against Mugabe’s continued rule as they have petitioned the current chair of the Southern African Development Community, Ian Khama, who is also the president of Botswana, to intervene in Zimbabwe’s current economic and political crisis.
“We [Zimbabwe Vigil] fear that our country could be torn apart as President Mugabe clings to office into his 90s with no designated successor. We wish to alert you [Khama] to alarming threats by the military in Zimbabwe to employ violence against people opposed to the Zanu PF regime.
“The threats come amid worsening splits in the party and rising popular outrage at the demolition of the homes of the poor and the imposition of pre-paid water meters for an unreliable supply, noted the pressure group in the petition that it said had been signed by thousands of people from around the world,” the Vigil argued.