Johannesburg, South Africa - Here are my predictions for political contexts across Africa.
Mugabe failed to secure a formal resolution to extend his term for another two years at the annual Zanu-PF conference in December and I predict will finally see his iron-grip on his ruling Zanu-PF loosened, opening up a power-vacuum in that country. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change will be too divided to benefit. Instead, the solution will come from inside Zanu-PF itself. Mugabe and his ruling group within Zanu-PF's first choice, Joyce Mujuru, the deputy president, is likely to falter. Her challenger, rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, supported by many hardliners, is also unlikely to bridge the heal the divisions in the party caused by Mugabe's bloody rule.
Former Zimbabwean finance minister Simba Makoni is likely to make a comeback as a leading contender to takeover from Mugabe. However, it is going to be difficult for Zanu-PF to prevent a split in the party following the departure of Mugabe.
There will be attempts to lure two other African statesmen who have both transcended their countries back to local politics. The one is UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. Could he be tempted to run for the leadership of his country? Many believe that Ghana's ruling NPP peddles tribal politics. There are persistent accusations of corruption against leading members within it and rising trade union opposition against the party's economic and social policies. All this could increase the clamor for a Ghanian that's above the divisive fray to contest the 2008 presidential elections.
In South Africa, ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma will fail in his bid to succeed President Thabo Mbeki as leader of the ruling-ANC and president of the country. Current South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Mbeki's protege and the person he very much want to have as his successor, is unlikely to benefit from a Zuma stumble.
Unless Zuma voluntary withdraws from the presidential succession race, and steps aside for Mlambo-Ngcuka, Mbeki and the ANC's women lobby's dream of installing Africa's oldest liberation movement's first woman as head will be postponed. Mlambo-Ngcuka is currently overshadowed by the Zuma campaign, as well as her own political frailties. Instead, the man former President Nelson Mandela thought would be the best candidate to step into his shoes, Cyril Ramaphosa, is likely make a comeback. Tokyo Sexwale, Mbeki's former rival will also be back in the reckoning. However, it is likely that the two -- and their supporters -- will be forced to strike a deal between who should run as presidential candidate for the party's centrist wing. If this is the case, Ramaphosa is likely to win. If the presidential contest turns even messier, finance minister Trevor Manuel is likely to come from the sidelines as a neutral candidate -- with support across factional, racial and ideological lines.
Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille is likely to win the leadership of the main opposition party, the predominantly white Democratic Alliance following the retirement of its leader Tony Leon. The veteran leader of South Africa's other large, but predominatly black opposition party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, is likely to finally bow out. However, potential successors are thin on the ground. Following the departure of the IFP's former national chairperson Jiba Jiyane to form a new party, the only likely candidate that could enter the fray would be Musa Zondi. The energy that will be unleashed following the departure of Buthelezi might be so destructive it could tear the party apart - and lead to its breakdown.
Another former pan-African statesman, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku, could also make a return to local politics. In December,a 'weak' candidate, Umaru Yar' Adua, Governor of the northern Katsina state, got the nomination from Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party as its candidate for the April 2007 presidential election. Now, even General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the former military dictator better known as "IBB" who ruled Nigeria and who called himself "the evil genius", is fancying his chances, to succeed Olusegun Obasanjo who steps down this year. In such a weak field, Anyaoku appears like a political giant.
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