By Amelia Johnson|
The Chinese government has shot down plans by the ageing and sickly Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to impose his wife Grace Mugabe as his successor, sources revealed.
The sources said senior Chinese officials told Mugabe that he could not appoint Grace Mugabe vice president or defence minister as she had demanded soon after the chaotic Zanu PF congress in December 2015, where she was elevated to the party’s supreme politburo.
The Chinese are said to have pointed out that Grace Mugabe had no political power base of her own and no clout among the country’s powerful generals and war veterans. In fact, they said, she had created powerful enemies among the military brass by threatening the army commander Constantine Chiwenga and accusing him, without proof, of plotting to assassinate Mugabe and his family. Grace Mugabe also made juvenile attacks against the then vice president Joice Mujuru, who enjoyed significant support among party members who felt Mugabe was too old to govern.
Mugabe coalesced to the Chinese demands and, in a surprise move, appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa vice president soon after the discredited congress at which then party and national deputy president Mujuru was dethroned.
“The Chnese told Mugabe that the billions of dollars that he was asking for to prop up the ailing economy could not be provided unless there was a clear succession plan. The Chinese were taking a long-term view and wanted a name, someone who could retain power long enough for Beijing to recoup its losses,” said a source. “Mugabe initially offered to promote his wife Grace and position her for the presidency. This is why she was quickly given a fake doctorate and was sprung into the Zanu PF politburo. The next stage was that Grace Mugabe was going to take over from Joice Mujuru as vice president and also act as defence minister. In the Zanu PF tradition of imposing leaders, this could hav worked. Remember, Joice Mujuru was a nonentity in the party when Mugabe appointed her vice president.”
Apparently, Grace Mugabe has toned down her presidential ambitions. In 2014, during her infamous ‘meet-the-people’ rallies, she stated unequivocally: “Of course I want to be president. Who has more right than me to be president?”
However, in a 2015 interview, Mugabe stated that his wife had no presidential or political ambitions. The sudden turn surprised many and plunged the so-called Mazowe Crush faction led by Grace Mugabe into confusion. Today, as it has become apparent that Mnangagwa is the clear favourite for the Chinese Red Army, Grace Mugabe’s followers are now fighting among themselves. Her so-called ‘Gang of Four’ is in disarray. Zanu PF politburo member and higher education minister Oppah Muchinguri has deserted the group and defected to the Mnangagwa camp after realising that the new vice president was not giving any concessions to a defeated Grace Mugabe. Information minister Jonathan Moyo and party commisar Saviour Kasukuwere are at each other’s throats. A new faction, Generation 40, has emerged, led by Kasukuwere, who reportedly wants to be president. G40 includes Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, who, like Grace, stands to lose a lot if Mugabe goes without leaving a member of his family in charge.
The Chinese intervention has put a premature end to Mugabe’s dynastic plans. The Chinese are after business and looting the country’s resources, not propping up a dictator who has over-stayed in office, the sources said.
“Mugabe misread Chinese intentions. He thought they were out to help him when all they wanted were minerals, defence and infrastructure contracts. There is a new paradigm in Beijing that is focussed on business and not propping up discredited old dictators,” said a senior Chinese source.
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