It would not be an exaggeration to say Zimbabwe is entering into one of its most uncertain times, but oddly hardly anyone is giving any attention to this.
At 92, President Robert Mugabe is already the oldest leader in the world, and is threatening another run for the presidency in 2018 when he will be 94. That is unless mother nature and biology don’t have a say in it.
Murmurs for Mugabe to groom a successor are reaching a crescendo, but for some reason, he and a huge section of his party think that this is not a good idea.
A good number in his party, Mugabe included, have opined that only after the president is gone, should the succession issue be broached.
This disingenuous argument was well tackled by one of Mugabe’s former ministers, who said some countries are loathe to invest in Zimbabwe at Mugabe’s instigation because not even a bank would give a 92-year old person a loan.
For the past decade or so Mugabe’s succession has been one of the most topical issues and has created a lot of uncertainty in the country, but he has refused to budge.
The election of his successor, where he to fail to continue in office for any reason, is also murky and adds to the anxiety, meaning only the brave or the hopelessly foolish can be willing to invest in this country until this prickly issue is sorted.
As it is, the constitution says if the president cannot continue in his office, his party – in this case Zanu PF – should submit a name of who should replace him within three months.
The voting criteria in that party is as clear as mud; as it is there are only two elected people in the upper echelons of Zanu PF – Mugabe and his wife Grace – and the rest are appointed by Mugabe himself.
So the question is, who gets to vote, the whole party, the central committee, the politburo or congress; and all this being done in a three-month process makes it a mammoth task.
Maybe Zanu PF have this locked down, but we are yet to hear the details in full.
Finally, there have been ructions in Zanu PF and succession is at the centre of it all.
There is growing paranoia, with people routinely being accused of plotting to unseat Mugabe, no matter how fantastical the accusations are.
A number of people that served Mugabe since before independence have either been kicked out or are on their way out. Discussing Mugabe’s successor is heresy in the country, but surely at 92, after such a long innings, this is inevitable.
Many fear chaos is certain when Mugabe goes, maybe because he has been synonymous with Zimbabwe for so long, or because no one knows who will take over when the day finally comes.
In the meantime, Mugabe’s supporters believe it is unAfrican to discuss his succession when he is still alive, but this does nothing to allay the fears and the anxieties.