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AT some stage, an ever-frailer President Robert Mugabe, 93, is going to exit the stage – one way or the other. What happens next is setting nerves jangling.
Mugabe is not universally loved, but he commands respect. The fear is that with his passing, not only will the edifice of the ruling party come crashing down, but the country may burn as well.
That’s because he’s lining up his wife, Grace, to succeed him. She commands neither love nor respect. Her behaviour in South Africa two weeks ago, where she allegedly assaulted a young woman, is seen as personifying her character.
Standing in the way of Grace is Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a feared former spy chief. But his influence is on the wane. He was taken ill and rushed to South Africa a few days ago, in what was reported to have been a poisoning attempt.
Despite Grace enlisting the support of former defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, the army is badly split. The senior generals fear for their jobs. And that is the direction from where the real trouble is likely to spring from. In the meantime, ordinary Zimbabweans are voting with their feet. According to a new Afrobarometer survey, almost half of the population has considered emigrating. Look out for an upcoming IRIN report on the succession issue.