BREAKING : Tensions rise within Zanu PF over the fraught succession issue

Harare – President Robert Mugabe this week held separate meetings with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top security chiefs, as tensions rise within his party over the fraught succession issue, local reports say.

The private Daily News says Mnangagwa met Mugabe on Monday after he and officials close to him were criticised by First Lady Grace Mugabe at a weekend rally.

‘Still the VP’

“The VP wants to know his fate. He is aware that what happened to Mai Mujuru could happen also to him,” an unnamed source close to Mnangagwa told the paper. Mujuru was fired as vice president in 2014 for allegedly plotting to unseat Mugabe.

Mnangagwa “asked the president about his future and he got assurances that he is still the VP”, the source told the Daily News.

Mnangagwa is currently acting president after Mugabe left for a visit to Iran on Thursday. The former defence minister is believed to have ambitions to succeed Mugabe. He is opposed by a party faction aligned to the First Lady.

On Saturday, Grace Mugabe told a ruling party youth rally that she wasn’t sure if she and the vice president were still friends. Speaking mostly in Shona, she also said she’d been approached by unnamed people who wanted to take to the streets to remove Mnangagwa from office.

Closed-door meeting

Meanwhile, Mugabe held a closed-door meeting with Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga and Air Force Commander Perence Shiri last Friday, a day after he accused the military of interfering in internal party affairs, reports the Zimbabwe Independent.

“He also held a luncheon on Tuesday with all the security chiefs where he has tried to manage them after openly attacking them for dabbling in politics,” an unnamed security official told the paper.

Last week Mugabe told a ruling party meeting that “the gun should not lead politics”, seen as a warning against the military top brass who are thought to back Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.

This week Mnangagwa downplayed the First Lady’s criticism of him and others. He said her remarks were made at a party rally, and assured Parliament they had no effect on the stability of the government.

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