ZANU PF is in a fix over election guidelines to be used to select members of the central committee and by extension the presidium ahead of the party’s elective congress in December, amid indications most members of the national elections directorate and national consultative assembly feel rules which applied for the Women’s League conference in August should be maintained.
Following recommendations made by the national elections directorate, the Zanu PF politburo put in place regulations stipulating that any member who wants to be in the central committee should have served the party for 15 consecutive years, five of which should have been at provincial level.
In addition, the regulations stated that aspiring central committee members must not have been convicted of any criminal offence or suffered insolvency. They must not have been found guilty or convicted by the party’s disciplinary committees during the past five years.
“There is a politburo meeting next week which should look at issues to do with the congress,” said a senior politburo member who requested anonymity.
“The national coordinating committee is likely to recommend that the rules which applied for the women’s conference apply for the main congress, in the interest of consistency.
“This is not to say the recommendations will sail through because there are a lot of people who did not approve of Justice minister (Emmerson) Mnangagwa camp in particular, is against the regulations, so we are likely to see huge fights over the issue, especially now that the stakes are higher as congress draws nearer.”
The rules and regulations were seen as a body blow to the faction led by Mnangagwa, which had several members suspended or expelled from the party ahead of the 2004 congress after they convened a meeting in Tsholotsho, meant to catapult their leader to the vice-presidency, thus strategically placing him to land the presidency.
Major casualties of the Tsholotsho declaration included Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who was expelled from the party in 2005 and only readmitted in 2009.
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, former Masvingo provincial chairman Daniel Shumba, former Manicaland chairman Mike Madiro and former cabinet minister July Moyo were also among the high-profile casualties of the Tsholotsho debacle.
The regulations mean they would be ineligible for the central committee unless Mugabe uses his discretion to appoint them.
The Zanu PF constitution empowers Mugabe to appoint 10 officials of his choice into the central committee.
Some members of Zanu PF provincial executives deemed to have been loyal to Mnangagwa were also suspended ahead of Zanu PF provincial elections last year.
These include former Masvingo provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke and former provincial secretary for administration Edmund Mhere, who were punished for endorsing expelled Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke’s candidacy ahead of the July 31, 2013 elections.
Zanu PF Bulawayo Province chairperson Isaac Dakamela, who was also sympathetic to Mnangagwa, was suspended in 2012 after being accused of incompetence and arrogance.
The regulations also have ramifications on the battle for the vice-presidency, as they mean that Ambassador Phelekezela Mphoko is effectively ruled out of the running, unless he is appointed by Mugabe.
Mphoko, alongside Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, former senate president Naison Ndlovu and retired Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri have expressed interest in the second vice-president’s position although former Zapu officials nominated national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo to take the post at a meeting in Gweru last year.
The fight to enter the central committee will be intense given its importance.
According to the Zanu-PF constitution, the central committee has unfettered plenary powers to “make rules, regulations and procedures to govern the conduct of the party and its members; implement all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions and programmes enunciated by congress; give directions as well as supervise and superintend all the functions of the central government in relation to the programmes as enunciated by congress”.
It is also responsible for setting up party organs, committees, institutions, commissions and enterprises in the name and on behalf of the party and can convene congress in ordinary and extraordinary sessions, as well as formulate the agenda, procedures and regulations for the business of congress.
The central committee can also amend the party’s constitution.
Politburo officals are chosen from the list of central committee members.