THE Zanu PF faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is plotting to table constitutional amendments which would allow President Robert Mugabe to handpick members of the presidium — including vice-presidents — before the party’s central committee ahead of the December congress, so that the changes apply at the forthcoming congress.
The moves are part of desperate attempts to derail Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s chances of landing the presidency.
The amendments, to be introduced to the central committee while sidelining the politburo, will allow Mugabe to appoint his two vice-presidents as well as the national chairman, as opposed to the current constitutional order where the posts are occupied upon nomination by at least six provinces.
Zanu PF insiders said pushing for constitutional amendments has emerged as the safest way to block Mujuru from seizing control of the party, although the faction was also considering using the secret ballot system not catered for in the constitution, as well as fielding a strong candidate to challenge the vice-president.
“The other two options may backfire because Mujuru is quite popular in the party and can easily win an election against Mnangagwa, Grace or Oppah Muchinguri who are the three best horses in the other faction. The safest way is to amend the constitution to allow Mugabe to appoint people of his choice,” said a Zanu PF official.
“This is also tricky considering Mujuru enjoys support, especially in the politburo. So the best bet is to take the proposed amendments straight to the central committee where people can easily be cowed, by-passing the politburo which in practice is the supreme decision-making body, although constitutionally the central committee is the superior body in between congress.”
According to the ZanuPF constitution, under Article 7 of Section 34 (8): “The central committee being the principal organ of congress and acting on behalf of congress when congress is not sitting shall have full preliminary unfettered powers to amend the constitution, if deemed necessary, subject to ratification by congress”.
Article 30 section 253 (6) of the constitution says if a two-thirds majority of delegates of the central committee is present, voting shall be required for the adoption of proposed amendments to the constitution.
While the Mnangagwa faction is pushing for the amendments, the Mujuru faction is demanding the respect of the current constitution which states in Section 32 (1) that the structure of the presidium is shaped by nominations from the provinces where if a candidate garners more than six nominations, that candidate is deemed elected and automatically becomes part of the presidium.
In the event that no single candidate garners six or more nominations, the process will be repeated with the top two candidates who garnered the highest votes being re-subjected to a fresh nomination process until one candidate gets the required six nominations.
Mujuru faction members also want the adoption of election guidelines used at the Women’s League conference in August to be used to select members of the central committee and, by extension, members of the presidium.
The regulations stipulate that any member who wants to be in the central committee should have served the party for 15 consecutive years, five of which should have been at provincial level.
In addition, the regulations state that aspiring central committee members must not have been convicted of any criminal offence or suffered insolvency. They must not have been found guilty or convicted by the party’s disciplinary committees during the past five years.
This, if applied, would affect the Mnangagwa faction which had several members suspended or expelled from the party ahead of the 2004 congress after they convened a meeting in Tsholotsho meant to catapult their leader to the vice-presidency, strategically positioning him to succeed Mugabe.