President Robert Mugabe’s term in power reportedly ends in 18 months but some of his lieutenants have already shipped their belongings abroad while others keep their bags packed ready to quit the moment Mugabe “keels over or is pushed aside in a palace coup”.
According to the London Economist “others are said to be sleeping in different places every night, to confound potential assassins or soldiers who they think might be sent to kill or arrest them”.
The weekly news magazine, however, admits that while Mugabe’s demise has been predicted before, including by the same magazine, the pundits have always been proven wrong.
But it adds: “Mr Mugabe cannot live forever”.
The Economist says Mugabe is now suffering from memory lapses that on one occasions he delayed starting a cabinet meeting waiting for his former deputy Joice Mujuru forgetting that he fired her two years back.
It says potential successors are beginning to circle and the favourite is Emmerson Mnangagwa. Though another faction, G40, is trying to push Mugabe’s wife Grace, the magazine says her support counts for little because Mnangagwa has the army on his side.
But, it also says that Mnangagwa is so widely disliked that he would find it hard to win even a rigged ballot.
“Searching for allies, he has even been talking to members of the hopelessly divided opposition. Once in power he will probably try to cajole them into joining a coalition rather than risk them uniting against him. In this Mr Mnangagwa may have the support of Western governments who hope he will establish order quickly and start fixing the economy, and may turn a blind eye to his thuggery,” it says.
The magazine concludes that while Zimbabweans have long yearned for the post-Mugabe era, “sadly, it will probably not mean a restoration of real democracy. And cleaning up the mess Mr Mugabe has made will take years”.