ZANU PF youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga yesterday appeared to contradict First Lady Grace Mugabe when he declared that President Robert Mugabe should not be rushed into anointing his successor, adding the 93-year-old politician still had until 2023 to consider stepping down.
Addressing journalists in Harare, Chipanga said the Zanu PF youth league has “various ideas” on who should take over the leadership of the ruling party when Mugabe finally decides to retire.
“Our President is still very strong and can still spend an hour addressing party supporters.
“We support the First Lady’s call for the President to appoint or to even give guidance as far as the processes are concerned in choosing his successor when the time comes.”
But Chipanga said they would not railroad Mugabe into appointing a successor, a clear departure from Grace, who said the President must select his preferred heir so that they campaign for him.
“But we are not stampeding His Excellency,” he said.
“He could even do that in 2023 when he feels the need to step down for whatever reasons.
“We have given him that leverage to guide the party.
“We cannot say we have a candidate, but a possible successor until such time he or she is confirmed by the party.
“They remain ideas; it is not yet a position. We have various ideas.”
Chipanga’s remarks seem to fly in the face of Grace, who last week, publicly implored Mugabe to name a successor, fuelling speculation that she was either angling for the lofty position or doubted her husband’s physical capacity to run for another five-year term starting next year.
In a bid to pacify the women’s league which has been calling for a female Vice-President, Mugabe suggested the possibility of a third Vice-President or a snap congress likely before next year’s general elections.
With support from a faction of Zanu PF known as G40, Grace has been named as a possible successor to Mugabe, along with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has the support of sections of the military and war veterans.
Both Grace and Mnangagwa have publicly denied harbouring ambitions to succeed Mugabe, who has already been endorsed as the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s polls.
Mugabe is likely to face a stiff challenge from a coalesced opposition involving MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube (MDC), Tendai Biti (People’s Democratic Party), Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe) and several other fringe parties, who are set to officially launch their alliance at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, tomorrow.