Scenarios for Zanu PF Congress

BULAWAYO - There is no doubt that all local and international attention on Zimbabwe is fixed on the processes and outcomes of the forthcoming Zanu PF congress set for December 2-7 2014.

The reason for this massive interest is the possible creation of a new leadership to assist President Robert Mugabe run the final lap of his leadership journey which is moving towards the final years.

It is an obvious reality that should president Mugabe choose to run in 2018, constitutionally he will be serving his last term.

What it means is that the country will definitely have a new president in 2023, which is what has generated much interest on the processes now and how they lead to 2018 and finally to 2023.

While some might view that as a long period in the history of political events, it is undoubtedly a very short period in the history of national transition and those who are forward looking know that unless president Mugabe himself decides to call it quits, the year is 2023!

There are of course some who have arguments about biological issues and argue that Mugabe’s age is too advanced and therefore it is illogical to look that far.

It is my argument that the life-span of human beings is determined by God; so it is unreasonable to put that as a major talking point.

My intention in getting deeper into how the country would deal with matters arising when the president either resigns, dies in office or becomes incapacitated is that it should not be used as an issue to pretend it can cause a national crisis because there are constitutional provisions to deal with that.

However, it means the party in power should be prepared for that possibility and provide a person to fill that position and complete the term of office as required by the constitution.

This is probably one of the reasons why the upcoming Zanu PF congress is so heavily contested.

Because the congress has generated such unprecedented anxiety and interest, I intend to put some scenarios on it.

Those who have read or studied scenario planning know that it is not a field of predictions but of mapping the future.

Thus I am not making predictions but mapping likely future scenarios that can provide answers to the phenomenon at hand.

The first scenario, which I will loosely call “Chabvondoka” is one where the current Vice President Joice Mujuru, feeling that she has stayed for a long time in that position and amassed adequate support in the party and internationally, goes for broke and challenges the incumbent for the party presidency.

This scenario, which has been played before within and outside Zanu PF structures, is based on the assumption that the provincial elections held last year and the youth elections held this year showed that the combination of the current party spokesperson, the national commissar, the national chairman, the secretary for administration and the Vice President herself, coupled with a strong financial base, are capable of winning the party through an election and that the time is now.

The assumption is also that the five office bearers enjoy significant support in the Politburo and therefore can easily have it their own way.

Further, it is also based on the same belief that the business sector is highly inclined to provide adequate funding for this scenario on the belief that should the current Vice President ascend to power and ultimately state Presidency this would lead to “normalisation” of relations with Europe and America, leading to financial aid and support for the business sector.

“Chabvondoka” is, however, highly unlikely because of the strength and entrenchment of the power of the president and respect that he has amassed over the years as the head of the party and state as well as a decorated fighter against global intrusion in the country’s and continental affairs.

This scenario has also been heavily dented by the fact that it was uncovered earlier when it was designed to be executed as a blitzkrieg at congress.

Inevitably, there has been serious weakening and immobilisation of the support structures of the Vice President.

Because these support structures and individuals were operating on the belief that she was the favoured “princess”, they are bound to retreat on realising that she has committed the crime of betrayal, a very serious crime in politics.

As a result, she is bound to remain with a few hangers on who know they have no political future like Rugare Gumbo.

But those who still want to be relevant to the future will begin to retreat at supersonic speed as she can no longer guarantee them any position in the party. It’s now “ndoda zibonele”, (each man for himself).

The second scenario, which I call “Laduma” is that Zanu-PF allows for an open election as provided for in its constitution and the team led by the Vice President slows down its attempt to capture the presidency and decides to capture the other three positions in the presidium.

This they can try to do by influencing the nomination process which in most provinces reflected their preferred chairpersons, some of whom went in through elections although they are said to have lacked credibility.

This way they would be hoping to maintain a stronghold on the presidium but wait to fight for the number one position another day.

This scenario is unlikely as well given that there is already a lot of purging of those chairpersons and support structures which they had put in place in preparation for capturing the presidency.

Also there is a call for the party to use the secret ballot and not vote by acclamation.

The vote by secret ballot means that there should be some voters roll which designates the voting delegates.

This situation could spell doom for them given the reality that many people are not prepared to gamble their political future by going with the Vice President when clearly the President has lost confidence in her.

This could also spell doom for the Vice President’s team since it’s possible that while they were busy concentrating on amassing numbers to capture the chairmanships of the provinces, their rivals could have been meticulously focused on strengthening their hold on voting delegates and thus would be comfortable with a secret ballot which they are sure to win in the presence of proper guidelines, lack of intimidation and extensive vote buying.

In that case they could be victims of their poor planning which has already caused the systematic removal of their chairpersons using votes of no confidence.

This shows they never commanded adequate support of those in structures who constitute the voting delegates. One can only say “laduma” as in Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Harare there have been votes of no confidence on the chairmen who were the conduits of power for the Vice President.

The third Scenario, Runyararo, is where president Mugabe decides to allow the status quo to continue for the sake of party stability by filling only one vacancy, that of the second vice presidency left by the late John Nkomo.

This scenario is based on the view that, for president Mugabe party stability is paramount and the only way to maintaining it is to avoid rocking the boat.

That can only happen if there is removal of the current office bearers below the president. The assumption is that Mugabe is not a man of radical changes but might only do some minor changes so that the boat does not rock too much.

This scenario is also highly improbable given that in terms of the Zanu PF constitution all posts become vacant at congress and therefore there is no boat to rock as congress is the time for choosing new leadership and those who have been in can only go back on the basis of their track record and performance.

Only Mugabe seems still favoured to be retained unopposed, a sign that the majority of Zanu PF members are still confident of his leadership. Indications are, however, that there is not much confidence in the other leaders and therefore any attempt to insulate them from an election will actually rock the boat and create serious divisions in the party.

The President has indicated that the people should be left to make decisions on who should lead them.

With a litany of serious allegations against VP Mujuru whose exposé was first made by the First Lady and incoming Secretary for Women’s Affairs Grace Mugabe, it is clear that confidence has been lost on the number two and the team she has been working with, and any attempt to insulate them from electoral scrutiny in the name of party stability could have more dire consequences.

“Imbabazane!” is where president Mugabe works on party stability by revoking the terms of the Unity Accord which have been overlooked over the years. These clauses speak of a president of the party who is stated as President Mugabe who in turn appoints two Vice Presidents and two secretaries.

The wisdom of the founding fathers of Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo and president Mugabe was to eliminate contestation of positions in the party as a way of killing factionalism and creation of many centres of power.

Regrettably, that part of the Unity Accord has not yet been followed.

But there is no wrong time for doing the right thing. What needs to be done is for the president to move in to quell factionalism and party instability which have potential of causing national instability by making amendments to the Zanu PF constitution to formalise the appointments of the two vice presidents as was agreed in 1987.

It is my view that such moves would be well received by those who have always clamoured for respect of the Unity Accord in filling vacant positions in the presidium. Surely one cannot refuse agreed procedure for a process but want to benefit from the same.

So all those who have been crying loud for the respect of the Unity Accord should equally cry loud for procedure to be followed in filling positions in the presidium.

Equally, those who have been clamouring for the empowerment of groups like women would not cry foul about such a move as there has been a precedence where in a bid to accommodate women, the party constitution had to be changed against the majority nominations of minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2004.

The current Vice President Joice Mujuru was the beneficiary of this affirmative action and Mnangagwa conceded to the amendments despite being the people’s favourite.

But when the constitution was amended it did not mean there should be empowerment of the interest of the women formerly in Zanu but also those from Zapu.

From the time that the Unity Accord was signed there have been three vice presidents from former Zapu but none of them has been a woman while from Zanu there has just been two of which the second was a woman.

Now with the need to fill the fourth Vice President from Zapu and given that of the last three none was a woman read with Zanu PF’s desire to ensure that one of the VPs should be a woman, maybe it’s time for a former Zapu woman to fill that position.

In the current jostling for the position, only former Zapu men including some who were very junior seem to be jostling yet there are women who are senior in Zanu PF and are decorated fighters and deserving of that position.

Should this be respected, it can also open way for the appointments of some men from the former Zanu as a way of capacity building and strengthening more people to get experience at the helm.

This scenario, which is the draw card, is highly likely as it has the potential of ensuring party stability by taking into consideration various interests of the party in a way that does not allow for decisiveness and breakages that come with an election process.

It is the most likely as it sets the tone for a smooth and well-managed succession.

*Moyo is a Bulawayo-based expert in public policy.

Comments (3)

I wonder how much of the so called analysis is influenced by wishful thinking. I'd put my money on minor changes on the margins. ZANU PF is incapable of major changes because the leadership is terrified of modernity and change in general.

Doug Machendeamambo - 13 November 2014

How about a more positive scenario - the congress collapses in chaos, the party splits, and the country moves one step towards a democracy.

david taylor - 13 November 2014

Another scenario not mentioned herein is that Mugabe dies in office or made to do so. No one wishes any being dead but it is a reality of biology. This scenario, very likely it isl, will be disastrous to Zim and SADC. Whatever scenario ZANU is finished and Zim is in for a long and horrible socil, economic and political instability. Diaspora please stay put wherever you are there is no soon solution to Zim situation.

Garikayi - 14 November 2014

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