In Zimbabwe, the route to power is called Mugabe

Tue Dec 2, 2014 9:34am EST
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By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Ninety-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is - quite literally - paving the way for his wife's ascent to power.

In another sign of the First Lady's growing clout, Harare residents awoke on Tuesday to a new street, Dr Grace Mugabe Way, leading to the conference center where Africa's oldest leader may this week anoint his chosen political successor.

The veteran former guerrilla leader, who has manned the helm of the southern African country since the end of British rule in 1980, has never said whom he would prefer to take over when he retires or dies.

What little certainty there was has been blown apart this year by the meteoric political rise of his wife, a 49-year-old one-time government typist nicknamed 'Gucci Grace' for her reputed shopping skills.

Grace's controversial receipt of a PhD in September, scathing assaults on Vice-President Joice Mujuru and open admissions of political ambition have even stirred talk Mugabe is planning to keep Zimbabwe's leadership in the family.

"Some say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not Zimbabwean?" Grace said at one of a series of rallies designed to cement her popularity, but also raising the possibility of post-Mugabe in-fighting and instability.

Last week Mugabe changed the constitution of his ruling ZANU-PF party to allow him to appoint his deputies, effectively giving him absolute control over succession - should he wish finally to show his hand.

He told reporters on Monday there would be "major pronouncements" at this week's five-yearly congress, a typically cryptic statement from one of Africa's great political tacticians.   Continued...

Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses her maiden political rally in Chinhoyi October 2, 2014, after she was nominated to head the Zanu PF ruling party women's league two months ago. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo