HARARE – A few days after President Robert Mugabe railed at top guns in his party who are jostling to succeed him, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi has weighed in, saying there was no vacancy at State House.
The Defence minister, who is one of the presumed dark horses to succeed Mugabe, said Zanu PF party activists must refrain from slogans such as mdara vachauya, as Mugabe was the chosen one.
Mdara vachauya, loosely translated in English to mean “the big man is coming,” is a catchphrase that originated from musician, Jah Prayzah’s title-track to his album released last year.
The song has assumed different meanings to different people and interest groups, with some saying it represents a plea to Zimbabweans to be patient for Mugabe’s successor.
This is notwithstanding Jah Prayzah’s explanation that the song is about a man working in faraway land who is appealing to his wife to remain faithful and steadfast.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Mbare over the weekend, the Defence minister said insinuations that an heir apparent could be anointed soon were misplaced as Mugabe was going nowhere.
“President Gushungo, havanzi mdara achauya, mdara aripo, (Mugabe is here to stay so you cannot say the big man is coming) and he is going to lead us; he is still there, we endorsed him as the Zanu PF candidate and he will represent us in the elections. Let us continue working together,” said Sekeramayi.
Gushungo is Mugabe’s totem.
Sekeramayi was backed by Harare Metropolitan province minister, Miriam Chikukwa who said no man or gun will remove Mugabe who has ruled the country since independence from the British in 1980, from power.
Chikukwa said those who feel they are a step closer to becoming the country’s leader were lying to themselves.
“You (Sekeramayi) have told us that hakudzi mdara achauya because mdara atoripo. There are some who think they are almost there; let me tell you the truth…Mugabe will not be removed by anyone. He is going to be removed from his post by God and not by man or the gun. Those in the leadership, lead us well; please do not try a coup, we say no to a coup, you can have a coup at your home,” said Chikukwa.
At its congress held in Harare in 2014, Zanu PF endorsed the increasingly frail Mugabe to be its candidate for the 2018 elections.
Nonetheless, a section of ruling party activists and senior officials clandestinely want another candidate to stand in the 2018 polls citing Mugabe’s advanced age and concerns over his health.
Two factions, namely Team Lacoste and Generation 40 (G40), are at odds over the matter.
Team Lacoste is pushing for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ascend to the top, while G40 wants a Mugabe life presidency.
Lately, Sekeramayi’s name has been thrown into the hat as a possible dark horse.
Both Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi have strenuously denied harbouring presidential ambitions.
Addressing party faithful in Lupane on Friday last week, Mugabe said he will not quit anytime soon as he has the support of the party youth and women’s leagues.
He said party bigwigs positioning themselves to take over from him should take a cue from Zanu PF national Youth league secretary, Kudzai Chipanga’s leadership qualities.
Chipanga was appointed by Mugabe to lead the Zanu PF youth wing in September last year after a vote of no confidence had been passed in Pupurai Togarepi in March of the same year.
Before his appointment, Chipanga was Togarepi’s deputy.
“Those of us who are in leadership should look at what the youths are able to do; no fights amongst themselves; no back biting; no factions and no desire to be successors at the moment because they are aware the President is still there,” Mugabe said.
“The youths are saying no, the women are saying no, the majority are saying no (you must stay), who then is saying yes I must go?” he asked.
Last week, political scientist Eldred Masunungure opined that the likelihood of a dark horse emerging to lead Zanu PF was high but only if Mugabe was able to implement his plan now.
“That is a serious proposition, the likelihood of that happening is very high but it has to be done while the President is still alive, it cannot be done post-Mugabe. He must do it now so that he will engineer the whole process then market his pick, not to Zimbabwe but to the key constituencies in his party. I don’t see that happening after he is gone. If he is there… a worst case scenario that he is incapacitated or dies, I think the key beneficiary is likely to be Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s moniker), the darks horse scenario can only be implemented by Mugabe by anointing someone and galvanising support for that candidate,” said Masunungure.
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