Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe‘s health and the ongoing factional fights within his ruling Zanu-PF party may derail the country’s 2018 elections, a political analyst Ibbo Mandaza has reportedly said.
According to New Zimbabwe, Mandaza, who is also a published, said this while opening a two day media stakeholders’ conference in Harare on Wednesday.
“There are possibilities that elections may not take place. Do you think that there would be elections if the old man (Mugabe) fell dead tomorrow? Can you see elections taking place? What if he is declared two weeks before elections incapacitated and unable to even move in a wheelchair, will there be elections?,” Mandaza was quoted as saying.
Mandaza also warned the West not to be “excited” by the poll rhetoric, the report said.
Mugabe, 93, has been in power since 1980 when the southern African country attained its independence from Britain.
In May, sources close to the veteran leader’s family reportedly told a Zimbabwean weekly newspaper that the nonagenarian had “worsening health problems” and his wife Grace was getting worried.
‘Noticeable decline in his cognitive abilities’
“Grace is in a quandary; she has to deal with Mugabe’s health challenges and political issues as well… she is scared of a future without him,” an unnamed official told the paper at the time.
The Zimbabwe Independent at the time quoted a senior government official who claimed to be close to Mugabe’s family saying that the longtime Zimbabwe leader had a “noticeable decline in his cognitive abilities”.
Meanwhile, two distinct camps have emerged in Zanu-PF in recent years, as factions sought to outwit each other in the race to succeed Mugabe. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was allegedly leading a faction that is angling to succeed Mugabe calling itself “Team Lacoste”, while another grouping made up of young Turks, commonly known as Generation 40 and backing First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her ageing husband, wanted to torpedo Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
Although both Mnangagwa and the First Lady have publicly denied harbouring presidential ambitions, the ructions in the revolutionary party have now become synonymous in Zanu-PF politics.