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Mugabe not endorsed by Zanu PF

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By Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has not been endorsed by Zanu PF as the party’s sole candidate in next year’s critical presidential election as repeatedly claimed by his loyalists, the Zimbabwe Independent reported Friday.

The decision to hold joint parliamentary and presidential polls in March 2008 instead of 2010 as initially suggested in official circles, it was revealed, was not made by party structures, but by Mugabe and his hangers-on, including Emmerson Mnangagwa and Patrick Chinamasa.

Zanu PF structures in March proposed 2010 as the election year, which Mugabe wanted before he was blocked by senior party officials at the ill-fated Goromonzi annual conference in December last year, but Mugabe unilaterally declared that the polls would be next year.

Mugabe’s backers — who for a while managed to mislead the party and the public over his candidacy — are currently on a campaign to garner support for him to be formally endorsed as the candidate at key elections ahead of the prospectively watershed extraordinary congress or conference in December.

Zanu PF officials in different factions are skirmishing over whether to hold a special congress or the annual conference in December.

Traditional chiefs and Zanu PF MPs two weeks ago reportedly endorsed Mugabe as the party candidate. The Zanu PF Youth League and Women’s League have also purportedly endorsed him. Zanu PF officials have claimed Mugabe has been approved to be the candidate by party structures, taking their cue from the central committee meeting held on March 30.

After that controversial meeting, Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shumuyarira was quoted in the Herald as saying the president had been endorsed as the candidate. "The candidate of the party is President Mugabe. He was endorsed by the central committee as the candidate of the party in those elections. That is the total sum of major decisions taken today," Shamuyarira said.

However, minutes of that March 30 central committee meeting show that there was no resolution to endorse Mugabe as the party candidate. The 60-page original verbatim minutes of the meeting do not contain a decision to approve Mugabe’s candidature, meaning the claim was made-up by his loyalists after they failed to push their agenda formally at the meeting. This explains the ongoing scramble by Mugabe loyalists to secure endorsement of his candidacy through an informal process ahead of the party gathering in December.

Sources said influential Zanu PF officials, particularly those aligned to the faction led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, do not want Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate. They are said to be preparing for a showdown with him in December, especially after their recent bitter fallout.

Their resolve has been strengthened by their ability to frustrate Mugabe at the Goromonzi conference last December and later in March at the central committee meeting. The experiences are said to have shaken Mugabe to a point where he is said to have contemplated giving up before or at the forthcoming December meeting.

The Mujuru faction is pushing for Mugabe to quit at the expected extraordinary congress, while some in the Mnangagwa camp and a Third Way group led by Elliot Manyika, a high-ranking politburo member, are campaigning for Mugabe to stay on.

The minutes, obtained from a group of top Zanu PF officials opposed to Mugabe’s continued leadership, show that Mugabe was not endorsed as the candidate. In fact, even in his closing remarks at the meeting, which started at 1:00 pm and ended 16:35 on March 30 at the Zanu PF HQ, Mugabe did not once mention the issue of him having been approved as the candidate.

Mugabe summarised the main proceedings by declaring that elections would be held next year, even though Zanu PF party structures, including the committee on the state of the party which presented an important report to the meeting based on the Goromonzi conference and the Youth League, had said they wanted elections in 2010.

"The President and First Secretary, Cde RG Mugabe, summed up the discussion by noting that consensus had been reached on the 2008 harmonisation option," the Zanu PF central committee meeting minutes say.

To make matters worse, Mugabe expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the meeting had dealt with Goromonzi conference "resolutions" that had been left inconclusive after they were referred back to provinces at the end of the annual gathering. It means he had no basis on which to declare elections would be held next year since the Goromonzi decisions opted for 2010 despite open hostility and resistance from the Mujuru faction.

In fact, the report by the state of the party committee compiled at Goromonzi and later presented to the central committee meeting on March 30, suggested 2010.

"Desirous of reducing costs and saving money for the important demands, it was resolved that the presidential, parliamentary and all local government elections be harmonised and held on a single day in 2010," the committee, chaired by Manyika, reported.

The Youth League also said in the meeting that they wanted polls in 2010. "The youth of the party have resolved that the presidential, parliamentary, senatorial and local government elections be held simultaneously in 2010," the minutes say.

However, Mugabe declared that the polls would be held in 2008 after Chinamasa had presented a report giving different scenarios, ranging from 2008, 2010 to 2020. He was supported by Chinamasa and Mnangagwa — who had been working on the issue with him — and a few rent-a-crowd members, including politburo members Olivia Muchena, Naison Ndlovu, Sithembiso Nyoni and central committee member G Tungamirai.

During his presentation, Chinamasa recommended the 2008 option, saying it went well with the "party’s democratic principle and traditions of regularly presenting itself to the electorate". He later claimed there was consensus for elections to be held in 2008, laying the ground for Mugabe to declare elections next year, and later his loyalists to claim that he had been endorsed by the central committee as the presidential candidate. - Zimbabwe Independent


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