Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe wouldn’t hesitate to dismiss Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from his post and said that Mnangagwa’s supporters should form their own party if they don’t want Mugabe to lead the country.
“If I made a mistake by appointing Mnangagwa, tell me. I will remove him,” Mugabe told a rally in the city of Bulawayo that was broadcast live on national television on Saturday. “We are not afraid of anyone. We can decide even here. I will stand in front and have him do the same, those who want to be with me, join me and those who want to be with Mnangagwa go to him.”
Political violence has flared in Zimbabwe as the southern African nation gears up for elections next year that may see a united opposition seek to end Mugabe’s near four-decade rule. Next year’s vote is likely to be one of the most hotly contested Zimbabwe has seen, with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF facing a challenge from a seven-party opposition alliance that’s capitalizing on public discord over cash shortages, crumbling infrastructure and a collapse in government services.
While the ruling party has retained 93-year-old Mugabe as its presidential candidate, he’s grown increasingly frail, sparking concern among his supporters that he may be unable to see out another five-year term. Under the constitution, the election must be held by Aug. 21, 2018.
The opposition alliance includes organizations led by former finance minister Tendai Biti, former vice president Joice Mujuru and ex-prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Within the ruling party, a battle to succeed Mugabe is being waged between a faction that’s rallying around the president’s wife, Grace, and another that backs Mnangagwa.