President Robert Mugabe’s continued stay in power and the stifling of debate on who is going to succeed him has fuelled speculation about his successor with one online publication saying former central bank governor Gideon Gono is still a major contender.
Africacradle.com, which does not state who owns it or where it is based, says in an undated article that Gono is number three contender after the two Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.
Gono, left the central bank at the end of 2013 but was barred from becoming a senator for Manicaland through a technicality, but most people believe he was sidelined because he belonged to the Joice Mujuru faction.
Africacradle.com says First Lady Grace Mugabe is pushing for Gono to succeed her husband.
Gono is not a senior member of the party but the website says one of the signs that Gono is back in contention is that he is visiting Mugabe’s family home quite regularly and Mugabe and his wife are also visiting Gono’s Sunlands chicken farm more frequently.
It quotes a Central Intelligence Organisation official as saying: “His Excellency and Gono are becoming more and more close to each other. They are visiting each other almost every week. It is believed the President has chosen Gono as his most trusted associate and word doing the rounds is that he feels safer being succeeded by the former governor than anyone else.”
Another intelligence source is quoted as saying: “The First Lady has a soft spot for Gono, mainly because he has over the years provided much-needed financial and business development advice to her and her husband. He would play a crucial role in building her nest in the post-Mugabe era.”
The website cites Mnangagwa as the top contender followed by Phelekezela Mphoko. It says from a constitutional and political perspective, Mnangagwa who replaced his bitter rival, Joice Mujuru, who was ousted at the December 2014 ZANU-PF congress and subsequently expelled from ZANU-PF this April, is the most likely successor.
But the website says although Mnangagwa is seen as the clear frontrunner, Grace’s allies are resisting his path to power. They argue that Mnangagwa, after he was named vice-president, failed to rally the party behind Mugabe to ensure unity and cohesion. They also charge that he has remained a regional and hidebound figure, always focusing on his Midlands political enclave and the past, and not on national issues and the future.
Mphoko is number two contender but Africacardle.com says he 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.
Grace is tipped as number five, though she has vehemently denied having any presidential ambitions.
Generation 40 which “comprises ambitious mavericks like Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Zhuwao” is tipped number six. But Jonathan Moyo is single-handedly picked as number 7.
Africacradle.com says: “Until recently, when Grace was slowed down by poor health, she appeared to be the leader of the group. Since then the temperamental and silver-tongued Moyo has emerged as the leader. There is little doubt that the spindoctor in Moyo will turn the disadvantage of being from a minority ethnic group into a strong positive. Prepare yourself to hear Moyo send the loud and uncomfortable message that there has never been a Ndebele president of ZANU-PF”.
General Constantine Chiwenga is next. But Africacradle.com says though Chiwenga has presidential ambitions his biggest obstacle is how to move from military fatigues to civvies without staging a coup.
Lastly is Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi who is regarded as a compromise candidate who has both a solid political background and close ties with the military and intelligence.