ZANU PF politburo member and Information minister Jonathan Moyo has challenged powerful faction leaders in his party to come out and declare their ambitions to replace President Robert Mugabe instead of clandestinely plotting against him through behind-the-scenes manoeuvres driven by groups which he described as “ideologically bankrupt”.
In an interview this week with the Zimbabwe Independent on his ongoing media engagement process and how Zanu PF factional power struggles are impacting on his work, Moyo also said those in the party who want to claim ascendancy using hierarchy were subverting democracy because there are party and national constitutions which define how power is obtained legally.
He said campaigns by some senior Zanu PF officials for “guided democracy” in the wake of renewed internal strife following disputed provincial elections in three provinces out of 10 so far, and the stampede to rise through hierarchy, were undermining democracy as they seek to impose supremacy of leaders over supremacy of the people.
Moyo’s hard-hitting remarks come on the eve of a Zanu PF extraordinary politburo meeting tomorrow called by Mugabe to douse the raging fires of factionalism and bickering threatening to fracture the party ahead of its annual congress next month.
Mugabe’s succession battles have intensified of late as a result of the provincial elections which will have a major bearing on the outcome of Zanu PF’s elective congress next year and who will be the next party leader. Mugabe’s old age — he will soon be 90 in February next year — and growing anticipation he will not finish his five-year term is stoking factional and succession intensities.
Moyo, who this week was involved in fierce exchanges with senior Zanu PF officials over the botched provincial elections, said there was no basis for factions reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to challenge Mugabe for power, especially so soon after he won a new five-year term in the July elections. He said those who want to replace Mugabe must have the courage of their convictions and come out in the open.
“If people want to challenge the president who has just won a resounding election with a huge mandate to rule between now and 2018, they should come out in the open and say so without hiding under some nebulous succession agendas and certainly without subverting party processes such as provincial elections in pursuit of succession purposes,” Moyo said.
“Otherwise, I think the time has come for all of us to understand that this whole talk of succession is a political disease from which we need to be cured by simply understanding and following the constitutional and democratic process for attaining power.”
Moyo’s remarks are likely to fuel heated debate in the politburo meeting tomorrow, particularly as they came following his exchanges this week with Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo over provincial elections he described in the interview as “ill-timed” and “poorly organised”.
Moyo joined the fray as Mutasa and Gumbo attacked Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba, also his permanent secretary at Information, after he said his boss had indicated results of Mashonaland Central provincial elections were still not yet official as the politburo had not met to endorse them.
Mutasa and Gumbo, linked to the Mujuru faction which has claimed victory in Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland Central amid fierce disputes from the Mnangagwa camp, insist the results stand. This is likely to trigger incandescent scenes at the politburo meeting tomorrow.
Moyo also said while factions were the bane of political parties everywhere, they were sometimes progressive, particularly if they grew out of ideological and policy contests. He said the trouble with Zanu PF camps was that they coalesced around individuals who want power for its own sake.
“… what we have on the ground are not ideological factions driven by ideas or policy substance, but we have some kind of mini-personality cults; factions based on support for individuals and not support for the party, that are content-free and that are ideologically bankrupt,” Moyo said, “which is why you see these ill-advised attempts to hold ill-timed and poorly organised provincial elections which have predictably sparked unnecessary controversy …”
The Information minister also insisted those challenging Mugabe were out of order because he has just been elected for a new term.
“But how does anyone succeed someone who has just led his party to a resounding election victory whose margin is of historic proportions? Just how does the succession issue come into this equation the day after the victory? In my view the issue does not arise,” Moyo said.
“Zanu PF has a constitution which is clear about how and when the party’s leadership is attained. In the same vein, the constitution of Zimbabwe is clear about how and when one can seek the country’s presidency. At the moment President Mugabe holds both positions by virtue of his having been elected to both. So neither the Zanu PF constitution nor the national constitution is vague about how power is obtained to the point of warranting a succession issue or crisis.
Therefore, I don’t think it makes any sense for anyone to seek to challenge President Mugabe’s leadership of the party and government by hiding under transparent cover of succession as if people cannot see through it.”
Moyo said hierarchy should not be used to determine Mugabe’s successor because the party and the national constitutions were clear on how leadership is elected. Besides, he said, “hierarchy is based on selection whereas democracy is based on election. This is because hierarchy presumes the supremacy of leaders whereas democracy presumes the supremacy of the people.”
On the question of guided democracy which some senior Zanu PF leaders are demanding in the aftermath of chaotic provincial elections in three provinces, Moyo was equally forthright: “Again, like the claim to hierarchy as the way to leadership, the notion of guided democracy is a contradiction in terms with roots in dictatorship which Zimbabweans fought against during the liberation struggle.
Guided democracy implies manipulation and corruption of the democratic process by individuals in the service of individual agendas, much to the detriment of the public good. Guided by whom, for what purposes? If it is guided, it cannot be democratic.”