HARARE (dpa) – Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe is still refusing to name a successor, fuelling speculation on whom he might have in mind.
Mugabe’s decision on Tuesday to sack his deputy Joice Mujuru – the nation’s first female vice president – has raised suspicions that he is preparing to leave the presidency to his wife Grace, four decades his junior.
Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country since independence from Britain in 1980, accused Mujuru of plotting to kill him in what she said was a smear campaign.
The ruling party Zanu-PF has been plagued by rivalries over Mugabe’s succession for years, with the president making use of the divisions to eliminate potential candidates.
“Mugabe wants to die in office, and he has used the assassination issue to get rid of Mujuru, who had the support of party structures,” said George Makoni of the non-profit organisation Centre for Community Development.
Mugabe claims he is fit to rule, but his frequent trips to seek medical treatment abroad have sparked speculation that he may not be able to serve until the end of his term in 2018.
Pressure is piling up on the president to resolve the succession issue, with China – a key foreign partner for Zimbabwe – allegedly telling him it does not want to continue developing economic cooperation with a potentially unstable ally.