I have been struggling like many people to appreciate the legal, moral and constitutional basis of the anger expressed against the notion that in appointing the two VPs, President Mugabe had any intention to pass on the baton to one of them.
I am reminded of the Zambian scenario where the late President Sata, fully cognisant of the constitutional limitations imposed on his choice of Vice President, proceeded nevertheless to appoint him in a position where he was a heartbeat away from the throne but constructively excluded from it.
The current Acting President of Zambia, Dr. Scott, like Zimbabwe’s former 4 Vice Presidents knew from the outset that the top job was never meant for them. In fact, the late President Sata made no effort to amend the repugnant constitutional provision limiting his deputy in the party and state from climbing to the top throne.
President Mugabe’s former deputies, with the exception of Mujuru, have all passed on before the baton could be passed on. On the question of succession, President Mugabe’s position has always been consistent; that he will never interfere with democratic processes by anointing anyone to any position in the party.
The rise of the First Lady to head the Women’s League of Zanu PF as was the rise of Mujuru to her former position creates the impression that President Mugabe was the mastermind of the project but in reality this may not be the case.
If Hon. Mnangagwa, Hon. Hungwe, and now Chidarikire know what Prof Moyo, Zhuwao and Charamba know, why then would they seek to glorify a position that signifies nothing but a caretaking role whose effective shelf-life is no more than 90 days should President Mugabe exit before the expiry of his term?
Having carefully and critically read the state constitution, it is evident that the position asserted by Prof Moyo is the correct legal construction that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rise to the position did not mean that he would automatically take over from President Robert Mugabe when the 90-year-old leaves office. In fact, Prof , by correcting this position at this juncture, was in fact stating the obvious and one would have expected VP Mnangagwa, a lawyer by training and the current Minister of Justice, to confirm this to be the case.
It is important to highlight that although former VP Mujuru had, on paper, more powers than the current VPs having regard to the fact that she could legitimately claim that her position in the party was based on some sort of election. Consequently, one could argue that no further decision was required by the party to pronounce on a successor as her term would expire when the next congress is held.Advertisement
The current VPs cannot assert such an argument as their relationship with the party as VPs like all the other Politburo members ends when the incumbent President exits. In other words, the position of the VPs in the party and state has now been streamlined and, therefore, one may argue that the attempts to glorify Mnangagwa is contrary to the spirit and letter of both the state and party constitutions.
One can understand the anger that has been generated at each and every stage where the profile of VP Mnangagwa has been projected as that of a de facto successor. Former VP Mujuru also did not fully comprehend that the argument she and her colleagues sought to assert that they were senior by virtue of the existence of the creature called the Presidium was invalid as she was also an appointed person.
It would appear that if Mnangagwa and his enthusiastic supporters fail to take heed of the limitations imposed on the VPs, he may very well be the shortest serving VP in the country. Even Mnangagwa cannot argue against the contention by Prof Moyo that both the Zanu PF and the country’s constitutions did not prescribe that Mugabe should designate his successor, an averment that has been supported by Zhuwao and Charamba.
Notwithstanding that, people have been paying pilgrimage to VP Mnangagwa oblivious to the correct legal position. Equally, Mnangagwa has also raised expectations by creating the impression that a new Deputy Sheriff is in town when he must know better that there can only be room for the Sheriff and not his deputies. The deputies cannot seek to upstage the Sheriff when the facts are clear that the road to the office of the President is diametrically different from the short walk to the office of the VP.
President Mugabe derives his authority from the people whereas the VPs derive their authority from the President and not from the party. So after 90 days following the exit of the President, it is significant that no provision is made that the nominee of the party has to be one of its VPs. It is the party that has discretion to appoint the successor President.
If all this is known, then why the fuss? Is it mischief or does it reflect a deeper problem that is at play?