EDITORIAL COMMENT: The principal has spoken

President Mugabe’s latest birthday interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has come as a timely intervention in Zanu-PF succession schemes and the endless, yawn-inducing speculative yarns in the private media about the Zanu-PF leader’s preferred successor.First, the President cleared the ridiculous rumour about a possible Mugabe dynasty headed by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe. The President said there was no such plan. He said even culturally such a thing did not exist.

Those who were trying to sell this line in the succession matrix have not indicated to the nation by what tradition Amai Mugabe was likely to succeed President Mugabe as leader of Zimbabwe beside being head of the Zanu-PF Women’s League.

She herself has on more than one occasion declared that she was satisfied with her current status as the First Lady. Second, President wondered why people were spending time discussing his possible successor before the time comes.

He said he had been chosen as the Zanu-PF candidate for the 2013 harmonised elections and understood fully what the task entailed.

That meant once he won the elections he had a five-year mandate bestowed on him by the people. The victory was overwhelming at more than 60 percent of the valid ballot. He said he found it uncharacteristic that people should start contemplating succeeding him before his term was up in 2018.

In short, the President reminded party followers and successionists alike that the Zanu-PF presidential candidate is chosen at congress, not through clandestine scheming. It was these clandestine machinations and dark manoeuvres to succeed the President before his term was up which had spawned debilitating factions which threaten the health of the party.

It was the same scheming which was diverting people’s attention from attending to the implementation of Government and party policies. Instead of serving the people in this year of drought, some senior party members waste time scheming about who should succeed a serving leader.

We can only hope the message went straight home. This was the second time the President has railed against people vending factional agendas under various factional tags we find embarrassing to repeat.

The President called for a stop to the madness. We agree with him because there are more pressing matters for the people of Zimbabwe than who the next president will be. That interview with the ZBC, by closing the dynastic speculation about the Presidency and reminding factional successionists about both the national and party constitutions, President Mugabe made clear this was time to serve the people.

Ministers and other party leaders and Members of Parliament have clear mandates. They were elected or appointed with tasks which they should execute. That is what they should be doing: assisting the President to execute Government business, uniting the party or attending to the requirements of their constituents.

Nothing could be clearer.

Alternatively, those who feel a compelling desire to succeed the President should mobilise fellow party members and call for an extraordinary congress to choose the next party leadership and candidate to replace President Mugabe.

There is no need to resort to clandestine, divisive tactics which weaken the party. If they can mobilise fellow members for such an extraordinary congress to choose a new leadership, that should be a test of their popularity. That is our reading of the President’s message when he stresses that leaders come from the people.

He has repeated that those who want to lead the country must demonstrate their capabilities through service and sacrifice. They must show that they have the interests of the people first, rather than personal positions.

In the latest interview the President said the one who wants to be the next leader of this country must be able to unite the people. This is an automatic disqualification of those who mobilise around divisive party factions. A faction leader cannot unite people.

That is why new political outfits are emerging: who wouldn’t want to earn the dubious accolade of removing from power even a fractured Zanu-PF? There are many who have been in the so-called trenches fighting to take down Zanu-PF. They have failed and now can only pray for divine intervention.

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