MUTARE- The provincial leadership of Zanu PF here has declared President Mugabe should continue to rule the country despite internal calls for leadership succession.
During a meeting held in this eastern border city and the weekend, the Zanu PF leadership in Manicaland said no-one should be allowed to challenge President Mugabe at the party’s conference to be held at the end of the year.
This, it appears, effectively put to end suggestions that Zanu PF would effect leadership renewal at its annual conference to be held at the end of the year.
Sources said should other provinces make such declarations it means President Mugabe will seek another term of office should elections at the end of the life of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which ushered in a unity government formed by Zanu PF and the two MDC political parties.
According to the GPA fresh elections should be held in 18 months’ time. The inclusive government was formed in February this year.
There was widespread talk within the ranks of Zanu PF that President Mugabe would step down at the end of the life of the GPA and pave the way for a new and younger leader to take over in Zanu PF.
The succession issue was expected to be tabled at the conference but indications are that the matter is now being stifled.
But Bezel Nyabadza, the Zanu PF acting provincial chairman in Manicaland, told a party meeting they would not tolerate any challenges to Mugabe’s continued stay in office.
Nyabadza is largely seen as a political disciple of Didymus Mutasa, a Zanu PF strongman and a Mugabe loyalist.
Nyabadza told the Mutare meeting individuals within the women and youth wings of the party, who were seen to be opposing Mugabe’s continued hold to power, should not be allowed to attend their respective conferences to be held in a few months time.
The conferences, to be held separately for the Zanu PF’s women and youth leagues respectively, are expected to prepare the agenda for the crucial conference.
Nyabadza reportedly told the Zanu PF provincial meeting that: “We should make sure those in the women’s league and youth wing are behind President Mugabe. Those that think otherwise should not find their way to their conferences because they will betray us.”
Sources within the ruling party in Mutare said they were shocked to realize their leaders still wanted President Mugabe to continue ruling despite his advanced age.
“We were shocked to hear that we have leaders who still want Mugabe to continue ruling when all indications are that we should have new leadership for the party to remain relevant,” said a Zanu PF senior district official based in Mutare. “I think that will be the end of the party. This is a self destructive button.”
President Mugabe, 84, has also indicated his unwillingness to step down and pave the way for new blood saying he wanted to ensure their was unity first within his party.
Efforts to get comment from Nyabadza or the Zanu PF provincial spokesman, Kenneth Saruchera, were not successful.