Zanu PF rejection of running mates lacks vision

HARARE - One of the spurious reasons why Zanu PF launched into a misaligned campaign against the Copac Draft Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe is its fixation against the provisional issue of running mates articulated in Section 5.5(2) of the draft, but what is clear in the vociferous rejection by Zanu PF is a poverty of concrete justifications.

In fact, there is ample evidence of the illusion that misguides the party, in the needless opposition of the provision, whereby Zanu pf believes that its own illogical misgivings about the issue centred on the succession debate are a national matter. Yet it is clear that the running mate system has many benefits for the country in terms of assuring succession sanity and stability.

The concept of running mates has been in use in America for many decades since the 19th Century and has proved beneficial for modern democracy. Running mates are two candidates who run on the same ticket as principal and subordinate in the presidential elections and the gubernatorial elections of American states that use the format where the governor and the lieutenant governor are directly elected on the same ticket.

Running mate matrix is used to balance the electoral ticket geographically, ideologically, or personally.

Although there has been a gradual transformation in America for instance in the formulae for choosing running mates from a situation where these running mates were chosen by the parties’ conventions to the current usage where the American presidential candidates choose their own running mates, and present them at the same conventions, the concept has been very much part of the modern world’s model democracy.

One of the advantages of the running mate was evident during the American Civil War in 1864, when Abraham Lincoln a Republican popular in the North, choose Andrew Johnson a Democrat popular in the South, as his presidential running mate.

This occurrence was under the auspices of the National Union Party as a way of promoting unity in the country during the divisive period in American history.

The move saw the Democrat Johnson later on succeeding the Republican Lincoln as president despite their political differences in matters of ideology.

The frivolous opposition to the running mate by Zanu pf is anchored on the issue of when to choose vice-presidents.

The party prefers to leave the matter of choosing vice presidents to the president elect after each election whereas the concept of running mates allows direct election of the first Vice-President and successor to the president if he demises while in office.

It is clear that this position of Zanu pf has no future focus for Zimbabwe, but is an attempt to postpone the succession issue which is divisive within the party as party strategists fear divisions ahead of the next polls expected this year.

Zanu pf should be reminded of the fact that a national constitution should have a focus beyond such petty issues to do with a single political party.

Furthermore, Zanu pf has not given any coherent reason for its opposition to the Copac Draft constitution provision for running mates. The rejection by Zanu pf is a negation of the principle of transparency and certainty in succession matters which has become the hallmark of modern democracies.

The running mates system will be beneficial for Zimbabwe in many ways.

The provision will enable any future succession process to be conducted in a smooth way especially should the incumbent president demise. Last year Ghana and Malawi saw their presidents demising in office.

In such a situation, there will be no need to conduct another national presidential election which is cost-effective because it reduces unnecessary costs; something welcome in any country and a country like Zimbabwe with nagging bankruptcy.

Furthermore, the running mates system allows grooming of successors in time which lends necessary political continuity to the running of the country.

This also has the advantage that there is increased certainty in terms of the long-term trajectory of the country which is an indispensable ingredient of any successful economy that wants to attract investors.
It is in light of the above stated merits the running mate matrix is indispensable for Zimbabwe despite Zanu PF’s selfish calculations on the issue and preference for closed door succession policies which have not yielded anything to date.

The calculations pose a security threat and possibility of instability for the country as well as a repugnant perpetuation of ambush political tactics against the people of Zimbabwe who need more transparent political systems. - Vivid Gwede

*Gwede is a social commentator based in Harare.

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