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President secures endorsement

Dumisani Muleya/ Constantine Chimakure

AS the Zanu PF power struggle rages on, President Robert Mugabe has all but secured the endorsement he desperately needs to be the

party’s presidential candidate in next year’s elections. What remains is an automatic approval of his candidacy at the party’s extraordinary congress in December, it became evident this week.

Inside sources said debate on Mugabe’s endorsement would be effectively closed today after the central committee approves an agenda for the congress. The agenda, the sources said, will have four items: minutes of the 2004 congress; a report on the central committee meeting; a declaration and confirmation of Mugabe, the president and first secretary of the party, as the presidential election candidate in March; and any other business.

This is what the politburo decided on Wednesday and will be approved today, the sources said. Party official Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is supporting Mugabe’s candidacy, presented the agenda to the politburo. The politburo also agreed that Mugabe would be the candidate without resistance from the Solomon Mujuru faction which has been threatening behind the scenes to block his endorsement.

The Mujuru faction has been campaigning to block Mugabe.

Vice-President Joseph Msika and other Zanu PF officials have been saying that Mugabe has not yet been endorsed.

While the Zanu PF constitution says the central committee — the party’s main decision-making organ in between congresses — “formulates the agenda, procedures and regulations for the business of congress”, in practice the politburo, a secretariat of the central committee, prepares the agenda.

After today’s approval of the congress agenda, carefully designed to lead to Mugabe’s endorsement without contest, the whole hullabaloo about Mugabe’s candidacy should die down in the party as his approval would become a mere formality in December. Congress will be railroaded into endorsing Mugabe and as a result he will — at least for a while — get a reprieve from his simmering succession crisis, it was said.

“The congress will last from December 12 to 14,” a senior politburo member said. “In reality it will last for just a few hours because on the 12th there will be a politburo meeting and on the 13th a central committee meeting and on the last day, which is on the 14th it will be about endorsing Mugabe as candidate.”

“It will be a formality,” the politburo member said, “because according to our constitution congress only discusses those issues which it was convened for. Any attempts to suggest a different candidate to Mugabe will be ruled out of order.”

Fears that Mugabe wants to fight next year’s election and win in order to become president for life intensified after the Women’s League, clearly acting as a rent-a-crowd in the politburo meeting on Wednesday, burst into a song saying “Mugabe is our leader forever”. During the March 30 central committee meeting, the Women’s League proposed that Mugabe should be president for life. Msika warned against such emotional decisions.

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