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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet the crowd upon arrival at the ZANU-PF 6th National Congress, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 6, 2014 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Zimbabwe Infighting Opens Mugabe Succession Battle

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014

Zimbabwe has been a de facto one-party state since the mid-1980s, despite the formal trappings of a multiparty system and a series of fraudulent elections. Real politics, in terms of decision-making and genuine contests for power, is inevitably confined within the ruling party, ZANU-PF. The sole exception to this was the government of the national unity period between 2009 and 2013, although even then, the hegemony of ZANU-PF and President Robert Mugabe remained largely intact despite convincing electoral defeats in 2008.

However, because the party is in thrall to Mugabe—and given his frequent assertions of what amounts to a divine right to rule and to a presidency for life—no mechanisms are in place for a transparent and orderly succession process, a typical feature of highly personalized authoritarian regimes. Thus any maneuvering to succeed him has necessarily been conducted away from the public glare in the subterranean world of internal ZANU-PF politics, which more closely resemble the political intrigues in imperial Rome than a modern democratic state. ...

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