There is some intrigue developing around Zimbabwe's notoriously anti-gay despot Robert Mugabe. Over the weekend, Mugabe managed to circumvent the European Union's travel ban on him and arrived in the Vatican for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. Several Zimbabwean media outlets report that before Mugabe departed, party leaders and military chiefs "demanded" that he defer elections and immediately appoint a successor.
"He was told that he was no longer marketable as a candidate," sources told The Standard.
Sources said Mugabe and the security chiefs held a teleconference last week, when the veteran leader was in Singapore, where the president was told to tone down on talk of having an election this year. He was also told to instead direct his energies to appointing a successor in an effort to prevent further fissures within the party and the country.
The sources revealed that the hawks and securocrats told Mugabe that if need be, he had to dictate a successor to his party and they would support that person. "He was told that he was no longer marketable as a candidate," an informant revealed. "Zanu PF’s best chance was in identifying a successor who would be sold to the electorate between now and 2013.":
There are many questions surrounding the health of the 87-year-old despot, reports Voice of America.
"Mugabe has traveled to Singapore for the fifth time in four months, explaining that he returned to escort his ailing wife Grace home though some observers believe he made the trip for his own medical treatment. News reports have persistently circulated in recent years that he sought treatment in the Asian city state for prostrate cancer, but his staff has steadfastly denied such reports."
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party entered into a coalition government with the MDC in 2008. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have rejected calls to include gay rights in the new constitution. Last month, Mugabe slammed the "filthy gays" of Europe and the European Union for imposing an asset freeze and travel ban on him and his inner circle.
Gay men and transgender women face widespread harassment, violence and rape in Zimbabwe, the U.S. State Department reported in its annual human rights survey. Two LGBT activists were arrested and tortured last year. Both were acquitted of all charges.