GRACE SPILLS BEANS ON SUCCESSION | FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe could have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, when she revealed that when President Robert Mugabe (pictured) was taken ill and had diarrhoea for two weeks, he called for Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, a revelation that is likely to shake the political scene, as this could imply he is the preferred successor.
Grace revealed this at a Zanu PF rally in Bindura on Saturday, as she sought to trash claims that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was poisoned, pointing out that falling ill was to be expected.
Without giving dates and specific details of the incident, Grace claimed Mugabe suffered a bout of diarrhoea after visiting Senate President Edna Madzongwe’s home to pay his condolences following the death of her husband, Forbes.
It is not clear why Mugabe preferred to call Sekeramayi at that time, although incidentally he is a doctor – something former War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa has said is untrue.
But for observers enamoured with Mugabe’s succession, this could be a sign to where Mugabe is leaning towards in the succession race, as at a low point the President called on Sekeramayi either as a doctor or confidante, which could put him ahead of the pack in the succession race.
Political analysts yesterday described Grace’s remarks as a clear pointer to Mugabe’s preferred successor.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said from Grace’s statement and developments taking place in Zanu PF, it was clear that Sekeramayi was the First Family’s preferred successor.
“From an analytical point of view, Sekeramayi seems to be the preferred candidate by the First Family, not the First Lady alone,” he said.
“It seems the media has not been focusing on him largely because of his media-shy attitude.“So, I think the First Lady is telling Zanu PF masses that here is the preferred successor if anything was to happen. They are just selling the name of their choice in a very intelligent manner.”
Former Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said Mugabe always had a soft spot for Sekeramayi.
“I can’t really tell the head or tail of what she was trying to say, but I know the President for long had a soft spot for Sekeramayi,” he said.
“But, as you know, he is also a medical doctor, he could have been summoned to attend to him on medical grounds or to tell him something.”
Until quite recently, Sekeramayi was a presidential dark horse, with Mnangagwa touted as Mugabe’s heir apparent. The 93-year-old Zanu PF leader has, however, refused to be pushed to name a successor, arguing that the decision has to be made at the ruling party’s congress.
Sekeramayi’s name was thrown into the Zanu PF succession ring by Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo at a public meeting in June this year.
Grace went on to attack Mnangagwa for remaining tight-lipped and failing to rein in his supposed allies, who continued to peddle claims that the Vice-President was taken ill last month after eating ice-cream from the First Family’s Gushungo Dairies.
Mnangagwa last month suffered severe diarrhoea at a Zanu PF rally in Gwanda and had to be airlifted to South Africa for medical attention, with his allies claiming he had been poisoned in an assassination attempt.
He later issued a statement denying reports that he had been poisoned by the First Family, but the Mugabes have not taken kindly to the assassination allegations levelled against them.