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Succession race still wide open: Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has said the race to succeed him is wide open despite his recent appointment of two Vice–Presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, who were seen as clear favourites.

By Staff Reporter

Mugabe also admitted failures in the implementation of the country’s chaotic fast track land reform programme, saying many of the resettled farmers have proved to be failures. He reiterated in an interview with ZBC to mark his 91st birthday that he will not choose his successor.

“The party has a choice. Not me. I’ve said I don’t choose my successor. Never!” Mugabe said.

The statement may further fuel factionalism as the potential successors try to build strong bases in the party in preparation for the crunch time when the membership decides.

“I will discuss with others, yes. A successor can come from any level of the party, but usually the top levels — the central committee, the politburo. It may not be either of the Vice-Presidents,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa and Mphoko as VP’s after the Zanu PF December party congress where he fired Joice Mujuru as his deputy.
Analysts view Mugabe’s comments as a preparation of a soft landing for his wife Grace, whom most now say is the “power behind the throne” in Zanu PF.

In admitting failures in the implementation of the land reform programme, Mugabe said new farmers were only utilising a third of the land they were given.

More than 15 years after the programme was launched, Zimbabwe has failed to produce sufficient maize for domestic consumption which has been blamed on sanctions and drought, but rarely on the new farmers’ competence.

“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” Mugabe said candidly.

However, his admission falls short of the opposition and civil society who have been calling a comprehensive audit of the land reform programme in terms of land ownership and production by the resettled farmers. Mugabe and Zanu PF have consistently refused to carry out a land audit, even when the European Union offered to pay the $31 million needed for the project.

Zimbabwe expropriated 7 million hectares from white commercial farmers, triggering the economic meltdown in the country since 2000.

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