As Grace Mugabe’s political star rises in Zimbabwe, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said there’s no guarantee he’ll become the next president.
In comments that will once again intensify speculation that the Zimbabwean first lady is eyeing the presidency even though she denies it, Mnangagwa said that being a vice president was “not a stepping stone” to becoming president, the official Herald reported.
People who see Mnangagwa as the leading candidate to succeed President Robert Mugabe, 91, are “not informed” the vice president said in an interview that was originally carried by the New African magazine.
Mnangagwa’s comments follow recent press reports from inside Zimbabwe alleging that the 72-year-old is almost certain to succeed Mugabe, who has as yet refused to say who he wants to step into his shoes.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
Mnangagwa said: “Those inside Zanu-PF know that being vice president or being a member of the politburo or central committee is not a stepping stone to being president. Not at all.
“You can be on the road to State House and Zim House, the president’s official residence across the road.
“You can throw a stone into the yard of State House when you are on that road but someone walking from here to China will arrive first before you arrive in State House if you are on that road.
“That is how far it is,” Mnangagwa added.
Mnangagwa did not mention Grace as a possible successor.He was named vice president at the end of 2014, his ascension effectively putting an end – for the time beginning – to the previous vice president Joice Teurai Ropa (Spillblood) Mujuru’s presidential hopes.In the months preceding Mnangagwa’s appointment, Grace was roped in to campaign against Mujuru.Her sudden arrival in Zimbabwe’s political arena led to speculation that the former typist was being groomed to step into her ageing husband’s shoes.She has a first degree in Chinese and a doctorate – apparently obtained in a record three months – from the University of Zimbabwe.This month she has been back in the public eye after months of silence due to ill-health.At a rally on Thursday she warned Zimbabweans they would miss her husband when he is gone.She also spoke out in favour of a hugely-unpopular ban on second-hand clothes that will take effect next week. Used clothes carry bacteria, she said.The private Newsday says the president’s wife went on to distribute 150 bales of used clothing confiscated from vendors. One bale of used clothes costs upwards of 200 US.