PCCs’ power as electoral colleges

In the fifth part of his article on the topical issue of Zanu PF succession, Derek Matyszak takes a further look at the administrative and co-ordinating bodies within Zanu PF and their influence, functions and duties.

Report by Derek Matyszak
Last week we noted Zanu PF’s executive posts roughly match the executive positions noted in respect of the elected and co-ordinating bodies, though several additional departments have been established. The intention seems to be to create positions which accord governmental ministries and positions, which are as follows:

i) President and first secretary;
ii) Two vice-presidents and second secretaries;
iii) National chairperson;
iv) Secretary for administration;
v) Secretary for finance;
vi) Secretary for commissariat;
vii) Secretary for external relations;
viii) Secretary for national security;
ix) Secretary for transport and social welfare;
x) Secretary for information and publicity;
xi) Secretary for legal affairs;
xii) Secretary for indigenisation and economic empowerment;
xiii) Secretary for production and labour;
xiv) Secretary for health and child welfare;
xv) Secretary for economic affairs;
xvi) Secretary for women’s affairs;
xvii) Secretary for youth affairs;
xviii) Secretary for education;
xix) Secretary for gender and culture;
xx) Secretary for welfare of the disabled and disadvantaged persons;
xxi) Secretary for land reform and resettlement;
xxii) Secretary for science and technology;
xxiii) Committee members;
xxiv) Deputies to the heads of departments of the politburo.

The persons occupying these positions, and 10 other members appointed at the same time by the president from the central committee, form the body known as the politburo. In terms of the party constitution, there should thus be 53 members. In fact, some 58 persons are part of the politburo currently appointed by Mugabe. The list of members as set out in the party constitution and reproduced above, is also stated to be the “rank” of members “in order of precedence”.

The last in the order of precedence, the 19 deputies, have no voting powers. The politburo’s function is to act as the secretariat to the central committee. It is the administrative organ of the central committee, and implements all decisions, directives, rules, and regulations of the central committee. It meets at least once a month, or more often as directed by the president. With the central committee holding all the plenary powers of congress, and with the politburo comprising the persons charged with executing these powers, this is the most powerful body within Zanu PF.

Consultative fora
In theory, the principal body of Zanu PF is the national people’s congress. It is composed of:

i) All members of the central committee;
ii) All members of the national consultative assembly;
iii) All members of the women’s league;
iv) All members of the national council of the youth league;
v) All members of the provincial co-ordinating committees (PCCs);
vi) All members of the district co-ordinating committees (DCCs);
vii) The chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, political commissar and treasurer, and two members each from the women’s and youth league from every district.

Executive council of the party
The powers of congress have already been described in relation to the central committee which, as stated, exercises most of the powers of congress when it is not in session. Although congress ordinarily convenes every five years, extraordinary sessions of congress may be convoked at the instance of the majority of the members of the central committee, or by the president at the instance of not less than one-third of members of the central committee, or following the resolution to do so by five provincial executive councils.

However, six weeks’ notice is required to convene such an extraordinary session of congress. The procedure for the business of congress is determined by the central committee. Nominally, congress has elective powers, which will be considered further below.

In addition to congress, there are two other consultative bodies, the national people’s conference and national consultative assembly. The former is composed of:

i) All members of the central committee;
ii) All members of the national consultative assembly;
iii) All members of the national council of the women’s league
iv) All members of the national council of the youth league;
v) All members of the PCCs;
vi) All members of the provincial councils;
vii) All members of DCCs; and
viii) All members of the district executive councils as may be determined by the central committee from time to time.

The “people’s conference” convenes yearly and the press often erroneously refers to its meeting as a Zanu PF “congress”, though it is obviously important to distinguish between a conference and a congress. The purpose of these yearly conventions is somewhat vaguely defined and loosely interpreted. It is essentially to receive feedback from and to monitor the central committee on the implementation of decisions and programmes determined by congress. It also considers reports submitted to it by the central committee.

As stated, it is also required to “declare the president of the party elected at congress as the state presidential candidate of the party”. The last body to be considered under this head is the national consultative assembly, comprising:

i) All members of the central committee;

ii) All members of the national assembly of the women’s league and their deputies;
iii) All members of the national assembly of the youth league and the deputies;
iv) All members of the 10 provincial executive councils;
v) Such other members designated by the central committee on account of their contribution to the liberation struggle or development of the country after Independence; and
vi) All former members of the central committee.
This body convenes twice yearly and is intended as a sounding board for the central committee. It debates issues of policy referred to it by the president or central committee, with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the central committee.

— To be continued next week.

  • Matyszak is a former University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, constitutional expert and researcher with Research and Advocacy Unit.