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Zanu PF congress: The possible scenarios

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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 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 that 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 President Mugabe’s age is too advanced and therefore it is illogical to look that far. It is my argument that the lifespan 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 futures, scenarios that can provide answers to the phenomenon at hand.
Scenario One: Chabvondoka
The first scenario, which I will loosely call “Chabvondoka” is one where the current Vice President, 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 spokesman, 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.Advertisement

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.
Scenario Two: Laduma
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 that 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.
Scenario 3: Runyararo
The third Scenario, Ruranyaro 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 Vice Presidency left by the late Dr 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 President 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 President 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 the Vice President whose exposé was first made by the First Lady and incoming Secretary for Women’s Affairs Dr 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.
Scenario Four: Imbabazane
“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 Dr 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 way back 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 Dr Joice Mujuru was the beneficiary of this affirmative action and Cde 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 the former 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.
Qhubani Moyo is a Bulawayo based expert in public policy. He is contactable on qmoyo2000@yahoo.co.uk.
This article was originally published by The Herald.