Battle on to succeed ailing Mugabe
Published 14/09/2010 | 05:00
ROBERT Mugabe's health is on a downward trajectory and the battle to succeed him is intensifying, a senior Western diplomat said yesterday.
The 86-year-old president of Zimbabwe is still in charge and able to fulfil a busy schedule but "there is no doubt that his downward trajectory has quickened and that's caused the usual jostling for succession to speed up", the diplomat said.
The leading contenders are Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Defence Minister; and Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief whose wife is vice-president. Both are hardline members of Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party and have strong ties to Zimbabwe's unreformed security hierarchy which opposes the two-year-old power-sharing arrangement with Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain 31 years ago, intends to stand in the presidential election that is likely to be held next year but he has visibly slowed in recent months.
In April, he fell asleep in four separate meetings with Zimbabwean ambassadors and had to be helped down steps at an African Unity summit in Uganda in August. (© The Times, London)