BSR: On 1 June 2017, you made a dramatic announcement, throwing the name of Dr Sydney Sekeramayi into the succession race. This was interpreted as an effort to counter your rivals by supporting a candidate with solid liberation war credentials. Some thought it was a pre-emptive move against former First Lady Grace Mugabe who was increasingly perceived and perhaps beginning to see herself as a successor to her husband. Later that month we saw her publicly exhorting her husband to name a successor. On the other hand, President Mugabe was adamant that he would not name a successor. What was the idea behind the Sekeramayi suggestion? Was he aware of what was going on? Was there a consensus among your colleagues over a candidate? Why did President Mugabe not name a successor? Some people think he never wanted to leave. Do you think he was ready to pass on the baton?
ANSWER: Some of us found the presentation of Mnangagwa as the only successor under a claim that there was a pecking order of succession going back to the 1975 Mgagao Declaration as ludicrous and contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy and at odds with both the Zanu PF constitution and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. By June 2017, the Zanu PF special Congress earmarked for December was on the horizon and the idea that Mnangagwa was the only candidate for succession needed to be interrogated. By then President Mugabe had signalled in May 2017 his preference for Sydney Sekeramayi. I put forward Sekeramayi’s name not only because I honestly believed that he was the best transitional leader on offer but also because I was fully aware that Sekeramayi had President Mugabe’s support. And yes, Sekeramayi knew that he had President Mugabe’s support, and he heard this from the horse’s mouth.
But to my shock, soon after I broached Sekeramayi’s name, I learnt that some so-called G40 stalwarts did not support him. The view was that Sekeramayi was a spineless political coward. I came under heavy attack for putting forward Sekeramayi’s name from within “G40” circles with the result that I ultimately said less and less about the proposition; hoping in vain that President Mugabe would come to the rescue and publicly signal his support for Sekeramayi. The fact that Sekeramayi did not grab the opportunity when it knocked on his door, as he remained the reluctant one, did not help matters. In the end, confusion reigned supreme as some comrades with fatal ambitions took advantage of that confusion to advance dangerous propaganda that President Mugabe was the party’s 2018 presidential candidate. This is also a story yet to be told.