Mugabe plots comeback, leading united opposition
Ousted Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is plotting to fill the gap left by the death of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai - by engineering a political comeback.
As Tsvangirai lay ill in a South African hospital late in January, 94-year-old Mugabe sought a meeting with Thokozani Khuphe, one of three MDC vice-presidents.
It is seen as a move to bolster the deposed president's attempts to put together an opposition coalition to take on President Emmerson Mnangagwa in this year's elections, sources told the Sunday Times.
Mugabe's attempt to hold talks with Khuphe came shortly before he met Joice Mujuru, leader of the National People's Party, at his Blue Roof mansion in Harare, on January 27. Mujuru is also the leader of the Rainbow Coalition, which brings together several relatively small political parties, and the former president sought her buy-in for the idea of a united opposition under his leadership.
Mugabe has increasingly been associated with the National Patriotic Front, which registered this week with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Piers Pigou, the International Crisis Group's director for Southern Africa, said Mugabe's presence in the opposition would complicate Mnangagwa's election plans.
Mugabe flew to South Africa on Wednesday, apparently to visit his children and an eye specialist in Pretoria. But there is speculation he is also meeting leaders of the Generation 40 faction, which was vanquished in Zanu-PF's internal squabbles last year.