Understanding Zanu PF organs, their functions

WE continue with a report titled The Mortal Remains: Succession and the Zanu PF Body Politic, produced by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Research Advocacy Unit (Rau), although written by researcher and lawyer Derek Matyszak, unpacking the unfolding Zanu PF power struggle and President Robert Mugabe’s succession drama, focusing on the national and party constitutions, the movers and shakers and the internal dynamics attendant to the process.

Derek Matyszak

Admin, co-ordinating bodies
In addition to the elected components, a hierarchy of three bodies exists with administrative and co-ordinating functions.

These bodies comprise partly elected and partly ex-officio members, who may themselves be drawn from elected bodies. The ex-officio groupings often constitute a substantial portion of the membership of each.

The DCCs: The districts referred to above were clustered according to the administrative district into which they fell and operated under the aegis of district co-ordinating committees (DCCs), which was the lowest tier of the administrative and co-ordinating bodies.

In 2012, Zanu PF announced that the central committee had disbanded the DCCs. However, as amendments to the Zanu PF constitution by the central committee are “subject to ratification by congress”, this body should have continued to exist de jure until such ratification.

The DCCs formed part of the congress and should thus not have been excluded from the congress prior to ratification of their disbandment. The DCCs remain included here so that the effect of their dissolution may be noted.

The DCCs were intended to co-ordinate the activities of all the party districts in the administrative district under their purview. There are currently 60 rural administrative districts and 29 urban.

Thus, in terms of the Zanu PF constitution, there should have been 89 DCCs. Each DCC was “elected by such number of delegates, as may be determined by the central committee from time to time, from the party districts in each administrative district at a conference called for that purpose”.

The election ought to have taken place every three years. However, a large component of the DCCs comprised members who held office ex-officio. Only 13 members were elected. The remainder of each DCC comprised:

All members of the central committee from that administrative district;

All members of the national consultative assembly from that administrative district;

All members of the province from that administrative district;
All party Members of Parliament from that administrative district;

The chairperson of the War Veterans Association in that administrative district;

The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners and Restrictees Association in that administrative district;
The chairperson of the War Collaborators Association in that administrative district.

The PCCs: There is also a provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) for each province. It is headed by the chairperson of the provincial executive council, described as the chairman of the province, and meets at least once every three months.

The PCC is an extremely important body, as will be seen, and comprises:

The provincial executive council;

Members of the central committee in the province;

Members of the national consultative assembly in the province;

The provincial executive committee of the Women’s League;

The provincial executive committee of the Youth League;

Party Members of Parliament from the province; and
(The chairpersons of DCCs from the province)

The function of PCCs is to act as the elections directorate of the province, to monitor and recommend any political or development programmes and initiatives in the province, and to foster an integrated approach to provincial issues between party, government and non-governmental organisations.

Most importantly, in terms of Section 32 of the party constitution, the PCCs nominate candidates for election to the Zanu PF presidium, which heads the central committee, and most non-ex-officio members of the central committee itself who comprise the majority of this body. This power of nomination has in practice allowed the PCCs to effectively elect members of the presidium.

The central committee: The central committee is the principal organ of the national people’s congress, a body described in the Zanu PF constitution as “the supreme policy-making organ of the party”.

Since congress only convenes once every five years in regular session, and the central committee performs its policy-making powers when it is not in session, it is an extremely important component of the Zanu PF structure.

The party constitution states that the central committee has 245 members, but the sum of the members of the central committee then listed, as set out in Section 32 of the Zanu PF constitution, amounts to only 240 members. These members are as follows:

The president and first secretary;
Two vice-presidents and second secretaries one of whom shall be a woman;

The national chairman of the party;

130 members nominated by the PCCs on a pro rata basis according to the national census figures of each province and in such a manner that each administrative district has at least one member appointed to the central committee;

The secretary for Women’s Affairs;
The secretary for Youth Affairs;

Thirty-four members representing the Women’s and Youth Leagues nominated by the leagues at the national women’s and youth conferences;

Ten members nominated by the presidency “on account of their outstanding contribution to either the armed liberation struggle of the country and/or its development after Independence”;
Ten chairpersons of the provinces who shall be ex-officio members;

Fifty members who shall be women allocated to the provinces in such a way and manner that each province shall have five members. (It is not stated by whom such allocation is made, but this is probably by the PCC.)

The manner in which the 130 people “nominated by the PCCs” to become central committee members is often dogged by controversy, with the PCC leadership viewed as imposing preferred candidates and the politburo rejecting nominations it does not approve.

The function of the central committee is described as being to:
make rules, regulations and procedures to govern the conduct of the party and its members;

implement all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions and programmes enunciated by congress including to give directions, supervise and superintend all the functions of the central government in relation to these programmes;

set up party organs, committees, institutions, commissions and enterprises in the name and on behalf of the party;

convene congress in ordinary and/or extraordinary session and formulate the agenda, procedures and regulations for business of congress;

amend the constitution, if deemed necessary, subject to ratification by congress.

The politburo: During the sitting of congress, the president appoints 19 persons from the central committee to head each of the departments of congress and 19 deputies to each.

These 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 with governmental ministries and positions.

They are as follows:
The president and first secretary;
Two vice-presidents and second secretaries;
The national chairman;
The secretary for administration;
The secretary for finance;
The secretary for commissariat;
The secretary for external relations;
The secretary for national security;
The secretary for transport and social welfare;
The secretary for information and publicity;
The secretary for legal affairs;
The secretary for indigenisation and economic empowerment;
The secretary for production and labour;
The secretary for health and child welfare;
The secretary for economic affairs;
The secretary for women’s affairs;
The secretary for youth affairs;
The secretary for education;
The secretary for gender and culture;
The secretary for welfare of the disabled and disadvantaged persons;
The secretary for land reform and resettlement;
The secretary for science and technology;
Ten committee members;
Nineteen 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 were appointed to the politburo by Mugabe after the 2009 congress. The list of politburo 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:
All members of the central committee;
All members of the national consultative assembly;
All members of the Women’s League;
All members of the national council of Youth League;
All members of the PCCs;
All members of the DCCs; and
The chairman, vice-chairman, 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 the congress have already been described in relation to the central committee, which as stated, exercises most of the powers of the congress when it is not in session.

Although the congress ordinarily convenes every five years, extraordinary sessions of congress may be called by of the majority of the members of the central committee; 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 the congress is determined by the central committee.

Nominally, the congress has elective powers, which will be considered further below.

In addition to the congress, there are two other consultative bodies: the national people’s conference and national consultative assembly. The former is composed of:
All members of the central committee;
All members of the national consultative assembly;
All members of the national council of the Women’s League
All members of the national council of the Youth League;
All members of PCCs;
All members of the provincial councils;
All members of DCCs; and
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 the 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:

All members of the central committee;
All members of the national assembly of the Women’s League and their deputies;

All members of the national assembly of the Youth League and their deputies;

All members of the 10 provincial executive councils;

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
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.
l To be continued next week.

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