Zanu PF in quandary over defections

ZANU PF’s decision-making body, the politburo, is in a quandary over how to proceed with Dumiso Dabengwa’s case after his declaration that he supports independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni. President Robert Mugabe this week said that the politburo, which is due to meet next Wednesday, would be seeking to expel Dabengwa from the party.

He said Dabengwa automatically expelled himself from Zanu PF without citing any specific clauses from the party’s constitution.

Mugabe’s pronouncements raised speculation that he might manipulate the rules and regulations governing the conduct of ruling party members, which stipulate that “any member of Zanu PF who decides to stand as an independent or joins another party automatically expels him/herself from the party.”

The same clause was fraudulently used to expel Makoni from the party last month without following the party’s due process.

However, impeccable sources said the clause does not affect Dabengwa in any way since he has neither stood for any post nor joined any other party.

“The rules and regulations which Mugabe alluded to and which the politburo relied on to expel Makoni were not crafted for the presidential election, but to govern primary parliamentary polls,” a senior Zanu PF member said. “Dabengwa does not fall in that category so his expulsion would be unconstitutional and gross manipulation of the rules and regulations.”

Dabengwa on Wednesday said if he was going to be expelled from the party for proposing the replacement of Mugabe by another Zanu PF leader he would welcome it. He said that he would attend next week’s politburo meeting.

“If I have sealed my own fate, someone will also seal his fate very soon,” Dabengwa said. “If I am going to be expelled from the party because I have proposed the replacement of Mugabe by another Zanu PF leader, then let it be.”

The sources said if Dabengwa breached any provisions of the party’s constitution by defecting to Makoni, the chairperson of the national disciplinary committee John Nkomo should suspend the former Home Affairs minister and institute a disciplinary hearing.

Zanu PF last month unconstitutionally expelled Makoni from the party amid reports that the party’s secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, manipulated the party’s constitution to guarantee Mugabe’s continued stay in power. Makoni was fired by the party using rules and regulations governing primary parliamentary polls, not a presidential election, making his expulsion unconstitutional. If Makoni had breached provisions of the party’s constitution, Nkomo should have suspended the former Finance minister and instituted a hearing.

Ruling party insiders said the due process was not followed because Mnangagwa allegedly made a misrepresentation to the politburo that Makoni had contravened rules and regulations governing elections and had, therefore, expelled himself from the party.

Makoni was dismissed from Zanu PF after announcing his presidential ambitions on February 5 and said he intended to contest the March 29 election representing the ruling party.

Mnangagwa immediately issued a statement that Makoni had expelled himself from the party — a decision that was later rubberstamped by a hastily convened politburo meeting of February 11. This prompted Makoni to announce that he would stand for the presidential poll as an independent candidate.

A day after the politburo meeting, Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira said Makoni had breached the central committee’s “rules, regulations and procedures to govern the conduct of the party and its members”.

Augustine Mukaro

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