Mugabe succession mystery deepens as he hints it may not be his VPs

Mugabe succession mystery deepens as he hints it may not be his VPs

HARARE – ZIMBABWEAN president Robert Mugabe ‘s mystery succession plans deepened when he insisted he will “never” choose a successor, while hinting that the person who takes his place may not be one of Zimbabwe’s two vice presidents.

“The party has a choice. Not me. I’ve said I don’t choose my successor.

Never!” Mugabe said in an interview shown late Friday on state ZBC television ahead of his 91st birthday party.

“I will discuss with others, yes,” he added. “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 recently appointed two deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko after sacking Zimbabwe’s first-ever female vice president Joice Mujuru.

His comments will fuel some speculation that Mugabe would prefer to see his wife Grace, 49, succeed him, though he did not confirm this. Mugabe insisted Grace was “not the power behind my throne” and only entered politics last year because female supporters of the party asked her to.

The president’s birthday interview was split into two halves, with the first being shown on Thursday.

Meanwhile SAPA also reports that today in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls thousands of people have packed the grounds of a plush hotel in Zimbabwe to celebrate the birthday of President Robert Mugabe, who turned 91 on Feb. 21.

Officials on Saturday sang praises to the former guerrilla leader in the resort town of Victoria Falls. Schoolchildren recited poems extolling Mugabe for confronting the West, which has criticized his human rights record.

Youth officials representing political parties from other countries, including South Africa’s African National Congress, have lined up to laud Mugabe.

Over the decades, Mugabe has sidelined and sometimes crushed dissent, casting himself as a champion of post-colonial Africa.