Ongoing attempts to elbow Vice President Joice Mujuru out of the Zanu (PF) succession race came as a result of Chinese influence.

Mujuru has, until recently, been seen as the stronger of the two front-runners for President Robert Mugabe's throne, as her faction is said to have the numbers to outvote her biggest challenger, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Zanu (PF) Congress slated for December 9-14.

Mujuru is also a darling of the moderates, who believe that her reformist faction could provide the best way forward for Zimbabwe.

A few months ago, Mugabe publicly declared that neither Mujuru nor Mnangagwa was a suitable candidate for the Presidency. But in the past few weeks his wife Grace has launched an offensive against the Vice President – while Mugabe remained silent.

Inside sources told The Zimbabwean this week that Mugabe was arm-twisted by the Chinese to support Mnangagwa as his successor.

"The President prefers Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence Minister) to be his successor because he is quiet and has not shown any signs that he belongs to a faction, but he came back from his recent trip to China a changed man," said one of the sources.

"All the things the First Lady said are part of a plot to soil the VP's image and give Mugabe the leeway to fire her and pave way for Mnangagwa to take over. The President used his wife because he still likes Mujuru and trusts her more than he trusts Mnangagwa, who has shown total disrespect for him a number of times," he added.


The Chinese are said to have pinned Mugabe down during his August trip to seek an economic bailout.

"They told him to first sort out the succession issue because they would not commit money to Zimbabwe without knowing that their interests would still be safeguarded after he leaves office," said another source.

"The Chinese like Mnangagwa - he has been their man since long back. The President knows that coming out to support Mnangagwa would tear the party apart and affect his own interests afterwards, as Mujuru, who also has the support of some military figures, could pull out of Zanu (PF) with her faction and start a new party that could unite all opposition and create problems for Zanu (PF).

"The other conditions given were that Zimbabwe should warm up to the West because China told him they would not be able to sustain Zimbabwe alone. They also told him that their trade partnership with the West had been affected by their relationship with Zimbabwe. The President was also told to put the economy back on track by either amending or repealing controversial legislation that could be used by subsequent governments to turn against Chinese business interests in the country."

The Zanu (PF) insiders maintain that Mujuru commands the numbers and could block attempts to have her fired before congress.

"The only way she could lose out is if she is expelled before congress, but legal amendments to the party's constitution that are being mooted could fail because she has the right people to block them in her camp," added the source.





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