THE controversial Copac draft has left Zanu PF divided and in turmoil after the foiling of an internal plot to remove President Robert Mugabe using the constitution-making process.
Report by Faith Zaba
Party insiders said the manoeuvres, similar to the Tsholotsho debacle of 2004, were meant to either bar or weaken Mugabe, leaving him vulnerable ahead of elections expected next year.
Sources said the moves were thwarted by Zanu PF hardliners led by politburo member Jonathan Moyo, whose suspicions were heightened after the first draft proposed an age limit of 70 for a presidential candidate and term limits disqualifying anyone who had already served a maximum of 10 years.
Ironically, Moyo was involved in the Tsholotsho plot.
They said it became clear to the hardliners after the first draft that some Zanu PF Copac members, who included Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and Patrick Chinamasa, were working with the MDC formations to try and deal with Mugabe’s succession through the constitution.
A politburo technical team, comprising its chair and party legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa, Moyo, Labour deputy minister Monica Mutsvangwa, former Matabeleland North governor Jacob Mudenda, State Enterprises deputy minister Walter Chidhakwa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, Women’s Affairs minister Olivia Muchena and a Dr Hove, were mandated to supervise the constitution-making process and ensure that Zanu PF positions were incorporated in the draft.
Mnangagwa also chaired a politburo committee to supervise the process. New information obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent this week shows Zanu PF negotiators Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche took a lot of liberty in making critical decisions without consulting the leadership, which resulted in the party making wholesale amendments in June and recently to the draft in six politburo meetings lasting 50 hours.
The sources said the leadership was consulted on most sections of the draft, but there were certain clauses influenced by attempts to deal with the Mugabe succession issues. It has now emerged the technical committee had rejected sections on the executive and presidential powers, which have been whittled down in the draft, condemning Mugabe to what loyalists claim is a clerical position. Mnangagwa’s team, the sources said, was also not consulted on the running mates issue.
“We were shocked about the running mates,” said one politburo member. “Even the president asked in one politburo meeting where that clause came from. As far as I know, the technical committee was just as shocked as the president about the running mates.”
Zanu PF created structures to deal with constitutional issues, but still the plot against Mugabe thrived. Initial attempts to insert an age limit of 70 years in the first draft that would have disqualified Mugabe, 88, led to the hardliners coming up with a 29-page document, most of which was incorporated into the draft. However, the negotiating teams, Copac co-chairpersons and some Copac members from the three parties, agreed to the new draft which diluted presidential powers.
The politburo rejected the draft, restoring the status quo in which Mugabe retains his sweeping powers. Mugabe is expected to meet Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube on Monday to discuss Zanu PF’s proposed amendments.