HARARE – Embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is unlikely to go down without a fight amid revelations that his loyalists are planning to make their last stand at an extraordinary congress to be convened by Zanu PF in December.
The Daily News can report that the bastions of support for Mnangagwa — the Midlands and Masvingo provinces — have broken ranks with the rest of the political provinces that are pushing for amendments to the Zanu PF constitution in order to effect far-reaching changes in the top echelons of the party at the special congress.
Already, Harare and Manicaland provinces have specifically called for amendments to the ruling party’s charter to accommodate a woman vice president, a move that has found resonance in six other provinces.
Zanu PF’s constitution currently provides for two vice presidents.
President Robert Mugabe is assured of retaining his position at the elective congress, having been endorsed by all the 10 political provinces.
Vice president Phelekezela Mphoko also appears to be on the safe side since he owes his position to the 1987 Unity Accord signed between Zapu and Zanu to end the disturbances that rocked the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the 1980s.
But if events of the past few weeks are anything to go by, Mnangagwa’s has a lot of fire-fighting to do to survive ouster. He is facing a vicious onslaught from rivals in the Generation 40 (G40) faction who want him out of the party for plotting to unseat Mugabe.
Mnangagwa denied the allegations.
Unmoved by the pressure being brought to bear on them by their rivals in G40, who are baying for Mnangagwa’s blood, the vice president’s allies are mulling putting up a brave fight at congress, although they are unlikely to win it given that they are outnumbered.
G40, which has the tacit backing of the first family, has used its numerical advantage in the provinces to push for the elective congress, which will now replace the Zanu PF conference that had been slated for Gwanda in the same month.
Having succeeded in endorsing Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate in do-or-die elections next year, G40 is now pushing for the adoption of a Zanu PF women’s league’s request to have one of the slots for the vice president reserved for a woman.
While Masvingo and the Midlands provinces have endorsed Mugabe as the ruling party’s presidential candidate at the 2018 polls, they are not giving in to pressure from their rivals to have one of the two vice presidents reserved for a woman.
A letter to the party’s secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo signed by Masvingo provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira states that the province had no other business at the congress other than “specifically and only” endorsing Mugabe’s candidature.
“Following the meeting that was held on 15 October 2017 at Victoria Junior School in Masvingo, below are the resolutions that were made by the provincial executive council.
“The Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive council hereby requests his Excellency the president and first secretary of the party . . . Mugabe to convene an extraordinary session of congress in terms of section 26 (1) (c) and section 30 of the constitution of the party in order to specifically and only deliberate on the party’s solidarity with . . . Mugabe and his confirmation as the party’s candidate for the 2018 general elections. Further that the president remains the president and first secretary of the party Zanu PF,” reads the letter, in part.
The provincial spokesperson for the Midlands province Cornelius Mupereri concurred, saying none of their resolutions seeks to tamper with the status quo.
The Midlands provincial leadership has come up with three resolutions.
“We resolved that . . . Mugabe is our candidate and that we must ensure that our members register to vote, that is what was discussed but the secretary for administration can come up with additions,” said Mupereri.
In terms of its constitution, an extraordinary session of congress may be convened whenever it is deemed necessary and at the instance of the majority of the members of the central committee or the president and first secretary.
It can also be held at the instance of not less than one third of members of its policy-making organ — the Central Committee — or its president. Alternatively, it can be convened at the instance of at least five provincial executive councils by resolutions to that effect.
On receipt of a resolution requesting an extraordinary session of congress, Mugabe will have to forward the same to the secretary for administration who, in this case, is Ignatius Chombo — now the Finance minister.
Upon receipt of the said resolution, the secretary for administration shall give at least six weeks’ notice, convening an extraordinary session of congress. At this instance, the central committee will formulate the necessary procedures for the execution of the business of the special session of congress.
Three-quarters of the members of congress shall form a quorum for the convening of the session.
War veterans who have been consistently loyal to Mnangagwa view the oncoming congress as meant to humiliate Mnangagwa, their godfather.
Across the provinces, war veterans who boast of working with the military, are already mobilising for the congress to derail plans to jettison Mnangagwa from his position.
According to the Mashonaland Central province chapter of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva), the former freedom fighters will not stand aside and watch while Mnangagwa is being stampeded to the exit.
“War veterans are concerned with the ongoing fights in the party, Zanu PF, particularly the proposed extraordinary congress,” said Sam Parirenyatwa of the Mashonaland Central chapter of Znlwva.
“Typically, the party is a people-driven, people-oriented institution, where decisions are made by the people and for the people. Leadership simply provide the means to the process to assist the people realise their needs, not to assist themselves (leaders),” he said.
Parirenyatwa said ordering provinces to tweak the constitution goes against traditional practices of the ruling party and will be resisted.
“Zanu is characterised by the bottom-up approach, not the up-to-bottom approach that we are currently witnessing. Only in emergency situations do we have the up-bottom approach. One wonders therefore as to what the emergency is all about,” he said.
“It goes to show that there are some nasty ulterior motives. If it is the change in leadership, there is a Zanu PF way of doing it — the same way we elected the current president . . . As war veterans, we shall not stand arms akimbo while neglecting our constitutional rights as the custodians of the party. We will not allow that to happen. Not in our times and beyond,” said Parirenyatwa.
Analysts say Mnangagwa was now being hoisted by his own petard after he amended the party’s constitution in 2014 to get rid of his predecessor, Joice Mujuru, who was fired from Zanu PF and government for plotting to unseat Mugabe.
Ironically, Mnangagwa now faces the same charges.