Mugabe ministers: We don't want your job--yetBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Saturday, April 21 2012 at 14:28
Two senior officials from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF widely reported to harbour presidential ambitions say they will not challenge the veteran ruler as long as he is still in power.
Vice President Joice Mujuru described the 88-year-old President who is reportedly battling ill health as a "gift to the nation".
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa also dismissed reports by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that he had reached a secret pact with the long serving ruler to take over the reins when he steps down due to ill health.
The two reportedly lead two Zanu-PF factions angling to take over from President Mugabe when he decides to retire or in the event of his death.
Ms Mujuru whose late husband, the retired General Solomon Mujuru was considered a powerful power broker in Zanu-PF is seen as one of the leading contenders for the job.
'Do not understand'
She has been in President Mugabe’s cabinet since independence in 1980.
"I have known him for 37 years," she told a function on Friday that was also attended by the Zanu-PF leader.
"Our problem as Zimbabweans is that we do not understand our President.
"Had we understood him well, we were not going to have any challenges. I will never challenge him as long as he is still in power."
Mr Mnangagwa told students at a university in the city of Gweru that he was surprised to see reports linking him to the presidency.
"I was as surprised as you to learn there was a pact between the President and myself to take over office,” he said.
"I also read about it in the Press. This is a strategy by our enemies but we are too mature and intelligent as a nation to fall for that.
"We do not read much into that," he said.
Senior Zanu-PF officials admit that the party is riddled with factionalism fuelled by campaigns to succeed the ageing leader.
In interviews to mark in his 88 birthday in February, President Mugabe said he was not ready to retire because he feared his departure will worsen the infighting.
But debate on his succession was revived a fortnight ago following reports that he was battling for his life at a Singapore hospital.
The reports were proved to be false when he retired home appearing sprightly.
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