Mujuru poised for takeover

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HARARE – From lowly beginnings as a school drop-out, Vice President Joice Mujuru has risen to power and become a leading candidate to succeed the president.

Mujuru’s camp is ecstatic following an emphatic victory last weekend that saw the camp crushing their rivals in the Zanu PF provincial polls.

Candidates aligned to the Mujuru faction cruised to convincing wins, as the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe rages on between the Mujuru faction and the rival Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction.

A senior politburo member said the Mujuru camp was “very, very happy” with the whitewash.

“We are now waiting for the politburo to endorse the results but I am certain that they will be endorsed,” he said. “The people who deserved to win, won and this makes us very, very happy.

“We wanted eight provinces and we got nine and this is a whitewash. Everything went according to plan.”

Announcing the results at the Zanu PF headquarters on Sunday, Simon Khaya Moyo, the Zanu PF chairperson, said the results were not final as they awaited confirmation and endorsement by the politburo.

Didymus Mutasa, the party’ secretary for administration, told Daily News yesterday that the date for the politburo to sit has not yet been confirmed.

“As of now, l don’t know when we will have the politburo meeting but we will notify you as soon as I know. We will give you updates when the time comes,” Mutasa said.

Since romping to the vice presidency in 2004, Mujuru has emerged as one of Mugabe’s closest officials, and the one in charge whenever the President is away.

She has taken a leading role after putting her cards on the table, declaring that she was ready to take over when the time is ripe. 

A fierce loyalist of Mugabe, speculation swirled that Mugabe was poised to name Mujuru as Zimbabwe’s presidential candidate ahead of the July 31 vote, but Mugabe chose to fight and won.

With a fresh five year mandate, it is highly unlikely that Mugabe can stand for re-election at 94, meaning Mujuru is poised for a takeover.

That Mugabe trusts Mujuru with his most important assignment is corroborated by insiders who suggest the VP may be at the top of the list because of her fierce loyalty to the cunning political veteran.

The two have a long history, going back to the liberation struggle.

Mujuru has already spent 33 years in Cabinet, an unprecedentedly long spell in Mugabe’s administration.

Insiders say Mujuru is a more pragmatic leader than others in Zanu PF, which might be necessary to keep the party from fracturing during the transition.

It may help her to prevent infighting within Zanu PF given her status in the hierarchy as second secretary, which could avert serious problems in addition to any opposition challenges the transition leader will face.

Moreover, Mujuru has become a strong leader, establishing strong ties with grassroots.

This may be critical, as recent news stories have shown that maintaining that relationship will be a key expectation of any Mugabe successor.

She has popular appeal as well, and charisma than her rival Mnangagwa lacks, observers say. She has fared better than other Zanu PF members in polls when pitted even against opposition candidates in her Mt Darwin constituency. 

Mujuru’s profile within Zimbabwe has continued to grow as she routinely appears both in pictures and videos next to the president.

In fact, many analysts believe that Mujuru’s  best shot at the presidency comes at the 2014 congress which will decide leadership changes. Now it appears that she is slated to run for president in 2018.

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