and Jeffrey Muvundusi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa faces a difficult choice as he looks for suitable candidates to replace his former deputy, Kembo Mohadi, who resigned under pressure on Monday.
This comes as it has been the tradition since the consummation of the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu that one of the vice presidents comes from Zapu, and also from Matabeleland.
However, the Unity Accord has no specific clause stating explicitly that one of the two vice presidents must come from either Zanu PF or PF Zapu.
Some political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that this “tradition” was not cast in stone, adding that it was simply done to balance regional interests — a practice which is dictated by the Constitution when it comes to ministerial appointments.
But others said the pact should be respected as was understood and “intended” when it was consummated more than three decades ago.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Clever Mumbengegwi, said barring other internal political dynamics in Zanu PF, it would be prudent for Mnangagwa to go for the most senior Zapu cadre in the politburo to replace Mohadi.
“In this case it would be Obert Mpofu given that he is the Zanu PF secretary for administration and nobody from the Zapu ranks is more senior than him, notwithstanding the fact that he joined Zanu PF before the Unity Accord.
“It is also important to note that the military element in the ruling party could also want to have a say, and in that case they would naturally want (Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces) Phillip Valerio Sibanda.
“However, the president will have a headache if other political dynamics, which outsiders may not be privy to, are considered,” Mumbengegwi told the Daily News.
“For example, if one is not looking at the Unity Accord, then party seniority will be the criteria and that means the Zanu PF national chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri, will come into the picture given that she is in the presidium,” he added.
The Unity Accord is silent on whether one of the two vice presidents must come from the PF Zapu side.
“Zanu PF and PF Zapu have irrevocably committed themselves to unite under one political party; that the unity of the two political parties shall be achieved under the name Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) Zanu PF; that comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe shall be the first secretary and president of Zanu PF, that Zanu PF shall have two second secretaries and vice presidents who shall be appointed by the first secretary and president of the party,” part of the pact reads.
Another political analyst, Dumisani Nkomo, said while the Unity Accord was not explicit about the vice president’s position, “the spirit of the agreement dictates that the deputy or one of the VPs should be from the former PF Zapu”.
“In this respect, Simon Khaya Moyo and Sithembiso Nyoni tick the box. (Obert) Mpofu, in terms of the Unity Accord matrix, falls out of favour. But if the accord is not a factor, he may be a strong contender .
“A dark horse is General Phillip Valerio Sibanda as a Zipra cadre. In terms of who may be more desirable, it is definitely Nyoni and Moyo who are preferable, as we are not aware of any human rights violations they have committed or any act of corruption,” he said.
Another political analyst, Methuseli Moyo, suggested that Mohadi’s position could be filled by anyone from any of the Matabeleland regions regardless of whether they were from Zapu or Zanu.
“The Unity Accord is now 32 years old by the way. Does it make sense today to follow Zapu structures that last existed 32 years ago? To me it is a big no.
“The Unity Accord sought to unite Zimbabweans across party and tribe and that must have been achieved now.
“To maintain unity, yes Zanu has to pay attention to regional balance, but for ex-Zapu cadres to monopolise the VP post until all of them die is counter-productive,” Moyo told the Daily News.
“What about those from Matabeleland who have always been Zanu? Should they be disadvantaged?
“Continuing to reward people with positions for a Zapu that only exists to share positions is in my opinion a self-serving strategy by ex-Zapu leaders.
‘‘Time has come for Zanu PF to use existing structures and dynamics to choose its leadership. Jacob Mudenda, Obert Mpofu, Simon Khaya Moyo, Cain Mathema and maybe Angeline Masuku are, for me, the candidates,” Moyo added.
On his part, constitutional law expert and leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Lovemore Madhuku, said Mnangagwa could do away with Mohadi’s replacement without falling foul of the country’s supreme law.
“There is no constitutional provision obliging the president to have two deputies. The Constitution provides that the president shall have up to two vice presidents.
“He can take his time and do with one for now until he thinks he is ready to make a replacement if he so wishes,” Madhuku told the Daily News.
This comes as Mohadi on Monday resigned from office — marking the first time in the history of independent Zimbabwe that a sitting vice president has quit his or her job.
“I have been going through a soul searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problems outside the government chair.
“I have arrived at this decision not as a matter of cowardice, but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the president, so that it is not compromised or caricatured by actions that are linked to my challenges as an individual,” he said.
“The inter-connectivity with social media ecologies have been relaying viral panics, peddling flames of lies — creating myths and muddling the reality of my life as a family man.
“I am a victim of information distortion, voice cloning, and sponsored spooking and political sabotage. Digital media, in their hybridity, have been abused by my enemies to blackmail me, but my spirit will never die.
“Following the recurring disinformation and virilisation of my alleged immoral unions, dispensed through awkward slacktivism, I’m stepping down as the vice president of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of section 96 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (no.20) Act, 2013 with immediate effect,” Mohadi added.
Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, vice presidents have either died in office or been fired.
The late Simon Muzenda, Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo all died in office — while Joice Mujuru was sacked by the late former president Robert Mugabe in December 2014, at the height of Zanu PF’s tribal, factional and succession wars.
And in the twilight of Mugabe’s rule, Generation 40 (G40) kingpins coalesced around the nonagenarian’s erratic wife Grace — resulting in the group being involved in a hammer and tongs succession tussle with Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste.
Mugabe subsequently fired Mnangagwa in early November 2017, before he came back to become the country’s new leader following a stunning and widely-supported military coup.