SPEAKER of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has emerged as a dark horse to land the post of Zanu PF chairperson, while former ambassador to South Africa Phelekezela Mphoko is favourite to land the vice-presidency, in a new presidium set-up devoid of incumbent Joice Mujuru and her allies.
While it has increasingly become clear that Mujuru is living on borrowed time, speculation is on who would replace her, with Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa expected to succeed her.
Sources revealed that Mphoko, who had been a Zanu PF central committee member for Nkayi in Matabeleland North, moved to Bulawayo so that when President Robert Mugabe appoints the presidium, he would not pick two people from the same province.
Mudenda is considered a key Mnangagwa ally.
Following a purge of perceived Mujuru allies, Simon Khaya Moyo, the party’s chairman, who was seen as a frontrunner, finds himself in an unenviable position where some provinces are distancing themselves from an endorsement he received last year.
While the route has seemingly been cleared for Mnangagwa and his backers, it has also been established that Mudenda faces opposition from Matabeleland North, his home province.
Just over a week ago, Zanu PF members in the province demonstrated against the Speaker of Parliament, allegedly at the instigation of a senior party member.
Mudenda declined to comment yesterday.
“I have no comment,” he said.
“I do not want to comment on that.”
In a previous interview with the Chronicle, Mudenda said he had not campaigned for the post, but if he was nominated, he would “see how it goes”, although he said he was happy as Speaker of Parliament.
On the perceived hostilities in Matabeleland North and plans to block Mudenda, another politburo member, Obert Mpofu – who recently boasted that his province was the most united – declined to comment.
“Talk to Mudenda, I am not aware of that,” he said.
Mphoko has long openly expressed his desire to be Mugabe’s deputy, saying he is the right candidate for the position as he was a former senior Zapu leader. As per tradition, one vice-president and the chairman come from former Zapu members, this again could work against Mudenda, as he defected to Zanu before the 1987 Unity Accord.
However, the planned presidium, as revealed by sources, does not include any women, an omission that could raise a few eyebrows.
First Lady Grace Mugabe has already hinted that a man may be appointed to replace Mujuru, a complete negation of Zanu PF’s gender empowerment plans it mooted when the present vice-president landed the post.
A number of names have been suggested as to who would succeed Mujuru if, as expected, she loses her post, with outgoing Zanu PF women’s league Oppah Muchinguri and Senate president Edna Madzongwe also tipped for the post.
Zanu PF holds its congress next week, where Mugabe is expected to pick his deputies.