Law changes to give Mnangagwa edge on succession
A PROPOSED new law which seeks to empower President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to handpick his deputies could see him deciding who takes over after him both as Zanu PF’s and the country’s new leader, analysts have told the Daily News On Sunday.
This comes as Parliament is already holding public hearings across the country, ahead of Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Bill being debated in the august House — where it is expected to sail through as Zanu PF enjoys a super majority.
At the same time, critics say the Bill — which seeks to introduce at least 27 amendments to the Constitution, including dropping the presidential election running mate clause — is retrogressive.
The running mate clause was supposed to come into effect from the 2023 general elections, which Mnangagwa has already indicated he will participate in.
The Bill also intends to amend the country’s supreme law to give Mnangagwa the power to appoint the prosecutor-general, extend the terms of retiring judges, increase the women’s quota in Parliament by 10 years, create a youth quota in the National Assembly, and appoint more non-constituency ministers, among other things.
Yesterday, political analysts told the Daily News On Sunday that the Bill and its apparent fast-tracking was meant to consolidate Mnangagwa’s power before his current term ends, as the ruling Zanu PF continues to battle factionalism.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said the proposed supreme law amendments would give Mnangagwa imperial powers, while undermining the country’s Constitution.
“All the provisions that give more power to the president are undesirable. They continue with the main weakness of the 2013 Constitution, the concentration of power in one person, the president.
“Neither the State nor the people will benefit. The government of the day is not the State. Only the temporary interests of the politicians pushing these amendments will be satisfied. It is nothing but the consolidation of power. All the major proposals focus on giving more power to the president,” Madhuku told the Daily News On Sunday.
“The rush to put this in place stems from two agendas, to deal with internal Zanu PF power dynamics by scrapping the running mate clause and to control the Judiciary for purely partisan interests.
“The rush has nothing to do with deepening democracy in the country. After a few years, even the politicians pursuing these amendments today will no longer be protected by their own amendments.
“It is not acceptable to write a constitution in the image of the ruling party of the day,” Madhuku further told the Daily News On Sunday.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said Mnangagwa wanted to get rid of the running mate clause because he intended to appoint someone who would protect his interests when he left office.
“Mnangagwa is trying to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor (the late Robert) Mugabe. He wants to appoint someone who is weak who can listen to him.
“He wants someone who can protect his interests even if he leaves his position. He wants to appoint and disappoint. If you have a running mate, you don’t have the power to choose your successor. Mnangagwa wants all the power to be concentrated on him,” Masunungure told the Daily News On Sunday.
“He can thus appoint someone who he thinks can be his successor and in so doing, he will be blocking his internal rivals who have ambitions to be president.
“However, we have seen it before that this will not stop someone to advance his ambitions to be president because you must also consider other factors apart from the issue of the running mate.
“Mnangagwa will obviously appoint someone who is weak who cannot challenge him and currently he knows his deputies are not that weak.
“He wants to deal with this problem,” Masunungure further told the Daily News On Sunday.
On his part, analyst Admire Mare said the amendments were likely to complicate the issue of succession in Zanu PF.
“It will complicate the succession politics because the clause that they want to remove already tries to address the thorny issue of succession in Zimbabwean politics.
“If the amendment is successful, then succession and factional politics will remain deeply entrenched in ruling party politics.
“Rather than helping the country to have stable succession politics, the amendment will take us back to the foggy zone of unpredictability,” Mare told the Daily News On Sunday.
However, speaking earlier this year, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told our sister paper, the Daily News, that Mnangagwa’s successor would not be decided by the president, but by the people through an election.
“The running mate clause, if you recall, was contentious right from the start. That’s the reason why you notice that it was deferred for 10 years.
“What was happening is that the president was allowed through the Sixth Schedule to appoint his VPs. It (the running mate clause) was never a popular clause right from the start. The system where people vote is different from a chieftainship where you say you need a succession plan … every five years the question of succession arises through the ballot,” Ziyambi said then.
“This is a borrowed concept from America. It does not work in our democratic societies here in Africa as it creates two centres of power.
“If you have a president you need one who is able to fire his own deputies. With a running mate, you need Parliament to institute impeachment proceedings to remove whoever is VP. We don’t need that … like the scenario which happened in Malawi when (Bingu wa) Mutharika died, and the (ruling) party (there) no longer wanted Joyce Banda, but were forced to have her … Those who are saying it’s the best practice are totally lost,” Ziyambi added.
During Mugabe’s last few years in office, Mnangagwa was involved in a hammer and tongs war with the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which had coalesced around the former’s erratic wife Grace.
The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Mugabe’s highly-divisive youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.
Mnangagwa’s fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time aide days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
However, the tables were turned on Mugabe when the military rolled in their tanks on November 15 of that year and deposed the nonagenarian from power — which saw a number of the G40’s alleged kingpins fleeing into self-imposed exile soon afterwards.
But despite Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, ambitious bigwigs in the former liberation movement continue to stand accused of plotting to unseat the new Zanu PF leader.