Polity watchers task SADC, AU on succession planning
By John Eche
Succession echoes have recurred once again in Zimbabwe in the wake of its 93- year old President Robert Mugabe traveling to Singapore for a medical checkup.
This is coming only a few days after he celebrated his 93rd birthday where he declared that the country had no alternative to his remaining in power even as he also publicly vowed to continue to continue contesting elections and ruling the country for many more years to come.
Mugabe who has since 1980 been the leader of the nation, has grossed a record 36 years being in charge of the southern African nation, making him one of the continent’s longest serving rulers.
Paradoxically, as the nonagenarian leader flew to Singapore, nurses at public hospitals in the country were joining junior doctors in a two-week strike that is meant to pressure Mugabe’s government into paying 2016 bonuses due in December.
Increasingly frail, Mugabe now struggles to walk and is seldom far from the arms of an aide. His public speeches have become meandering and repetitive.
“His Excellency the President left for Singapore for a scheduled medical review. We expect him back in the country early next week,” spokesman George Charamba said. He did not give details.
Mugabe frequently travels to Singapore for medical checks, with aides saying he suffers from an eye cataract. But reports in private media suggest he has prostate cancer, something Mugabe’s office denies.
The veteran leader’s critics say his overseas medical trips testify to the collapse of Zimbabwe’s public health system since the economy started to fall apart in 2000.
The issue of succession to Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, has divided the ruling ZANU-PF party into two camps, with one supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
Polity watchers say that with the fractured power relations in the country presently, it is high time that the regional grouping, the Southern African Development Council, SADC and the Africa Union begin preparations for the almost inevitable power tussle that would greet the final exit of Mugabe from the scene.
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe