Dumisani Muleya/Loughty Dube
THE ruling Zanu PF yesterday took a landmark decision at an emergency politburo meeting to avert a damaging power struggle by agreeing that one of its two second secretaries be a
The woman will automatically become vice-president.
The dramatic decision — which came ahead of the party’s crucial congress due early next month — should put an end to a vicious scramble for the post of vice-president left vacant last year by the death of Simon Muzenda.
The shock move propelled veteran cabinet minister and politburo member Joyce Mujuru to the doorstep of the second most powerful office in the land.
She has been gunning for the position with two other senior colleagues, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Didymus Mutasa.
A delegation from the Women’s League led by its chairperson Thenjiwe Lesabe is said to have met President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday to apply decisive pressure for a woman to secure one of the vice-presidential positions.
The team also met with Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira to drive home the point. Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment yesterday. Several Zanu PF politburo members approached by the Zimbabwe Independent for comment referred questions to him.
Official sources said the buccaneering women pulled out all the stops to railroad the politburo into accepting their demand. They said the women sang in celebration of their historic victory afterwards.
Mnangagwa was said to have been shocked by the sudden turn of the political tide against him.
“Mnangagwa got a shock today (yesterday). He could not believe the sudden turn of events because until last week he was the frontrunner,” an insider said.
“But after his interview (with a local weekly) he was heavily exposed and that became his Waterloo. The women were angered by his remarks that the Zanu PF constitution did not give them special preference to the post.”
Sources said Mnangagwa, often touted as Mugabe’s heir apparent, could now miss out on the post of president because Vice-President Joseph Msika is expected to retire after cong ress to allow party chairman John Nkomo to fill his shoes. This means Nkomo and Mujuru could sometime next year be the two co-vice presidents and when Mugabe goes one of them could take over.
The coup against Mnangagwa means Zanu PF will now have to amend its constitution to reflect the new arrangement. This will have to be done before congress to facilitate administrative procedures.
Although Zanu PF provinces were informed of the new measure, it was not immediately clear whether or not the nominations of candidates for the top four elected positions — first secretary, two second secretaries and chairman — will go ahead this weekend as Mnangagwa had ordered.
Mnangagwa last Thursday — the day he declared in a newspaper interview he wanted to become vice-president — wrote to the party’s provincial executives saying nominations for candidates should be done on Sunday.
The names of those nominated were to be submitted to him on Monday for conveyance to the politburo and central committee before endorsement by congress. Zanu PF sources said Mnangagwa was confident that he would win the nomination ahead of Mujuru because he had the majority support in the provincial executives, which are mandated to select candidates.
Mnangagwa was said to command support in six provinces. Only Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Harare were said to be in favour of Mujuru.
Politburo heavyweight retired General Solomon Mujuru and his camp — which has been working to block Mnangagwa — is said to have leaned on the Mashonaland provinces to support his wife Joyce.
There were clashes in Matabeleland South — which triggered a chain of events leading to yesterday’s developments — this week between the pro-Mnangagwa provincial executive and the province’s coordinating committee which is controlled by the region’s political barons.
The executive, which is chaired by Lloyd Siyoka and includes Jones Nkomo, John Dube, and Leonard Mathuthu, was summarily suspended last Friday after it had invited Mnangagwa to a prize giving ceremony at Ntalale secondary school in Gwanda.
The coordinating committee, featuring Lesabe, Naison Ndlovu, Angeline Masuku and Kembo Mohadi, booted out Siyoka’s team for declaring it would not support a woman vice-president.
But even after Siyoka’s executive was reinstated as its dismissal was ruled unconstitutional, its decision to back Mnangagwa collapsed anyway.