Politics in Zimbabwe over the past 35 years have been about Mugabe and it appears it will remain so until the end of his life.
Turmoil could be avoided if Mugabe took a keen interest in who succeeds him and shepherds the process. He could use his immense influence in the party to assure stable leadership in Zimbabwe after his tenure. For instance, he could call a special congress for the election of his successor. Instead of hand-picking a successor, he could encourage internal party democracy, robust debate and campaigning.
This could be a significant legacy to bequeath to the party, and the country. Implemented well, it could become the template for succession in Zanu-PF and set the national democracy project back on track.
But who will succeed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe? This has been the most important in Zimbabwe over the past few years
1. Emmerson Mnangagwa
From a constitutional and political perspective, Mnangagwa who replaced his bitter rival, Mujuru, who was ousted at the December 2014 Zanu-PF congress and subsequently expelled from Zanu-PF this April, is the most likely successor.
2. Phelekezela Mphoko
There is Mnangagwa’s co-vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a former liberation struggle stalwart and long-serving diplomat, whom Mugabe plucked from obscurity just before congress to appoint as one of his deputies. Mugabe used his new-found sweeping powers that allow him to choose not only his assistants but also the party chairperson and the decision-making politburo members to effect the appointment.
Mphoko does not have a congealed faction, so he floats between the rival groups, although he sometimes sounds and looks like a one-man band intent on self-destructing. Of late, it has become increasingly clear that his guns are trained on Mnangagwa.
3. Gideon Gono
Grace Mugabe is pushing to have former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, succeed her husband as president when he finally retires, according to senior CIO sources in Zimbabwe.
The two families are reportedly exchanging frequent personal visits, and many in Zanu (PF) interpret this as an indication that the latter is being groomed as President Robert Mugabe’s successor. Intelligence sources told The Zimbabwean that Gono’s regular visits to the first family’s Borrowdale home have become more frequent.
4. Grace Mugabe
The first lady has enjoyed a meteoric rise in Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and was recently appointed its secretary for women’s affairs. Photographs of her sitting alongside the president in the cabinet have done little to squash rumours that her 91-year-old husband is seeking to build a political dynasty.
Asked if she would like to be president one day, she laughed and said: “I don’t know, I don’t know.”
The Zimbabwean leadership battle has intensified, with Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, increasingly frail and Zanu-PF locked in a bitter factional struggle. Last year, his wife made a dramatic entrance on to the political stage, holding a series of rallies and denouncing the vice-president, Joice Mujuru, once seen as a possible contender but since expelled from the party.
“They say I want to be president,” Grace Mugabe said at one event. “Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?”
5. Generation 40
Besides Mphoko, there is an amorphous clique associated with Grace, described as Generation40 (G40) and representing the so-called Young Turks in the party. This group comprises ambitious mavericks like Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Zhuwao.