ZANU PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo says those who believe President Robert Mugabe, whom he described as a “father figure”, is too old for the presidency or to run as the party’s candidate in the next elections expected mid-year lack respect for elders.
Owen Gagare/Elias Mambo
In a wide ranging interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Khaya Moyo also spoke about the vacant vice-president’s post which he has been tipped to fill should Zanu PF win elections, factionalism and the 1987 Unity Accord, among other issues.
On Mugabe (89) seeking another five-year term as president despite old age, ill-health, being in power since 1980 and at the helm of Zanu PF since 1977, Khaya Moyo said: “I think what we lack in Zimbabwe and which we have lost completely is respect. When you tell your father that you are no longer my father because you are old, it’s unheard of in our culture.”
He also justified Mugabe’s candidature saying the party’s constitution automatically makes him the rightful candidate as he was elected at congress in 2009.
“Zanu PF is a party with a constitution. Zanu PF is a party which adheres strictly to the provisions of that constitution and in the constitution, it’s provided that the leader of the party elected at congress becomes our candidate for ensuing elections and that’s where we are.”
“We had a congress; we elected a leader in the name of President Robert Mugabe; he is the leader of the party who automatically, in terms of the provisions of the constitution, becomes our presidential candidate in any ensuing election before another congress naturally.”
“So I don’t see where the problem is, unless people are saying Zanu PF members, all of them, are just buffoons. We have a constitution and we follow it religiously. We hold congresses every five years; we elect new leadership every five years.”
Deep-seated factionalism has rocked Zanu PF ahead of the elections with two rival factions, one reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and the other by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking to control party structures in preparation for an assault on the presidency in the event that Mugabe goes or during next year’s congress.
Khaya Moyo said every party has problems and Zanu PF was tackling factionalism. He said Zanu PF members were aware of the importance of the next elections which the party is confident of winning.
Simon Khaya Moyo speaks to the Independent. Listen to the podcast
Zanu PF, Khaya Moyo said, would soon hold primary elections although the dates and criteria for selecting candidates are yet to be set. There has been huge interest from aspiring candidates with a security background, especially from the intelligence, military and police structures, to contest on a Zanu PF ticket causing tension as some have openly expressed their desire to challenge bigwigs.
Khaya Moyo said the securocrats were welcome as long as they meet the set criteria and were popular among the electorate.
On the vice-presidency, which he is reportedly eyeing and facing competition from Mines minister Obert Mpofu and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, among others, Khaya Moyo said he will not campaign for the post because the people would choose.
He denied reports that he does not see eye to eye with Mpofu, who has been using his new-found resources and influence to build a support base in the Matabeleland region.
Khaya Moyo is better placed to become vice-president because of his strategic position as a member of the powerful presidium, but Mpofu’s backers have been arguing that he is popular in the region.
Mpofu calls himself “Mugabe’s ever obedient son” but has never been a favourite of most Zanu PF heavyweights from Matabeleland largely because he floor-crossed to Zanu PF prior to the signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987, and is thus viewed as a “defector”.
“I am a member of the presidium as national chairman of Zanu PF so I don’t deal or compete with individuals. I’m an elected person by the party’s congress.
“Members of the party have a final say on this matter. It’s not for me to pronounce anything. You don’t apply for these positions; people choose,” he said.
The battle may include people from other regions given that some ambitious officials have over the last few years questioned the continued relevance of the Unity Accord which has guaranteed that two of the four Zanu PF presidium positions go to former Zapu officials who want the status quo preserved.