Mujuru not backing down from succession battle
Vice-president Joyce Mujuru is the next in line to succeed President Robert Mugabe, according to the country's constitution and Zanu-PF's hierarchy.
Yet, the problem is that Mugabe has never openly backed Mujuru's succession, a situation that has opened up intense rivalry and infighting over the years among Zanu-PF bigwigs jostling for the top job.
In an interview with the state media on the eve of his 88th birthday in February, Mugabe acknowledged that he had not groomed a successor. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Defence Minister, who is touted as the leader of a faction opposed to Mujuru's rise, was reported by the UK's Telegraph this week to have struck a "gentleman's agreement" to succeed Mugabe after polls.
But senior Zanu-PF officials canvassed this week by the Sunday Times insisted that the party's hierarchy would be followed to avoid any splits that would weaken it if anything happened to Mugabe.
Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu-PF spokesman, dismissed as "nonsense" intimations that Mnangagwa was the frontrunner to succeed Mugabe. "He is way down the hierarchy of the party, how is it possible that he can leapfrog everyone else in front of him? There is no way that can happen," he said.
Simon Khaya Moyo, the party's national chairman, said: "Leaders are elected at congress which is held every five years and that is the way things are done.
"All this succession talk is similar to the divide and rule tactics used by the colonisers to weaken the continent, and in this case it is aimed at weakening the party."
As Mugabe returned from Singapore on Thursday morning, Mujuru welcomed him at the airport in a gesture observers said underpinned the fact that she remains at the forefront of both party and national affairs.
In political quarters, it was feared that the death of her "kingmaker" husband, Solomon, would weaken her grip on party affairs, but she has not shown any signs of backing down from the race to succeed Mugabe.