Over the weekend, Zimbabwe’s Standard Sunday newspaper published an interview with President Robert Mugabe’s former Home Affairs and Defence Minister Enos Nkala. Nkala, who had since fallen out with Mugabe, spoke with the Zimbabwean leader last week and stated “From what we discussed, Mugabe said he is tired and wants to retire but he cannot do so now because Zanu-PF will die… He (Mugabe) was yet to find a successor within Zanu-PF, who could lead the party and keep the country united.” According to Nkala, Mugabe claimed that “factionalism was eating away at the party and, if not handled properly, could explode into a civil war.” He also said that “It’s easy for people to say Mugabe must go…but most of them do not know that he is the glue that has been holding this country together.”
Regardless of whether or not Mugabe’s statements and Nkala’s assessments are true, this story raises a concern that I’ve heard reflected in conversations about other long-serving African leaders:
Are some African leaders who have been in power for several years the “glue” that holds their countries together? If so, what are the likely outcomes if/when they depart the political scene without a succession plan?
If you’re reading this, I’d really be interested in hearing what you think about which other African leaders might be in a similar situation and what might happen to their countries when they depart.