Zanu PF succession plays out in Copac

ZANU PF’s smouldering succession battles are now threatening to sink the troubled constitution-making process amid latest disclosures which show the fight to succeed President Robert Mugabe, which has been playing on the select committee of parliament on the new constitution (Copac), spilled into the central committee meeting last week.

Report by Faith Zaba

The outbursts at the central committee also showed realignments in Zanu PF’s factional dynamics between the two camps led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Insiders say Zanu PF structures in Copac, including the parliamentary committee itself, the management committee, the party’s technical committee on the constitution-making process and the politburo taskforce supervising the exercise, were all divided along factional lines, leading to the current bid by senior officials to intervene to save Mugabe from being weakened and rendered vulnerable through curtailing of his sweeping executive powers before crucial elections.

Fresh information obtained this week indicates Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana has actually been fighting in Mujuru’s corner, contrary to earlier reports he was working with the Mnangagwa faction to oust Mugabe using the constitution-making process.

Mangwana, who hails from Chivi in Masvingo province, one of the Mnangagwa faction strongholds, initially supported that camp, but later shifted to the Mujuru group which he is working with now.

As if to confirm Mangwana was in her camp, Mujuru at last week’s central committee meeting at the party headquarters jumped to his defence after Mandy Chimene, a vocal member of the party’s decision-making body in-between congresses from Manicaland, proposed Mangwana be expelled from the party for supposedly working with MDC formations in trying to oust Mugabe and deal with his succession through the constitution.

Mangwana has been under fire for allegedly collaborating with MDC party officials to include presidential terms and age limits in the initial draft designed to bar Mugabe from seeking re-election next year. He was also blamed for pushing for the controversial running-mates provision which seemed calculated to resolve Mugabe’s succession in favour of Mujuru.

Senior Zanu PF officials, particularly influential politburo member Jonathan Moyo, have fiercely attacked Mangwana in public and Copac itself as wrangling within the party over the constitution reached boiling point. Although Moyo was aligned to the Mnangagwa faction, he is now reportedly rooting for Mugabe to stay on.

However, Mangwana has denied plotting against Mugabe, blaming negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for some of the Copac problems now affecting Zanu PF.

After Chimene proposed the expulsion of Mangwana last Friday, Mujuru quickly leapt to his defence, interrupting and accusing her of trying to further divide the party and being disruptive.

A central committee member said yesterday they were surprised when Mujuru spoke strongly in Mangwana’s defence.

“Chimene proposed that we fire Mangwana, but as she was still speaking, Mai Mujuru interjected and told her to make constructive contributions and not come up with divisive comments and proposals,” the member said.

Top Zanu PF sources in Copac told the Zimbabwe Independent this week factionalism has poisoned the party structures dealing with the constitution-making process. The sources blamed infighting for the mess Zanu PF now finds itself in with regards to the constitution-making effort, which resulted in the party making wholesale amendments in June and July to the draft in six politburo meetings lasting close to 50 hours.

Zanu PF hardliners, working with securocrats, have thwarted moves by a group in Copac to remove Mugabe using the constitution-making process. Mugabe survived manoeuvres to oust him during the 1999/2000 constitutional commission process by a group led by the late party maverick Eddison Zvobgo.

After the term and age limits designed to block Mugabe were removed, a clause draft was introduced in the final draft stipulating that presidential election candidates must select running-mates who automatically become vice-presidents if the principal candidate wins.

Insiders say the provision was meant to close the succession debate, as Mujuru would have automatically become the first running-mate.
“People have been getting it all wrong that Mnangagwa was working with Mangwana to deal with the succession issue. Instead, Mangwana has been working with Mai Mujuru’s faction,” said a Copac insider.

“The issue of running-mates was done to help Mujuru, not Mnangagwa. Seriously, why would Mnangagwa be part of a process that was geared to ensure Mai Mujuru’s ascendancy? Mai Mujuru would have automatically become the first running mate and there was no way Mnangagwa would have jumped to that position for the elections next year.”

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