By Richard Chidza
HARARE – Beleagured President Robert Mugabe seemingly stuck between warring Zanu PF factions led by his deputy, Joice Mujuru, and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, has turned to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for some help.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News at the weekend that Mugabe has apparently been stung by the depth of dissention from senior party officials and a reported rejection of a clause in the draft constitution requiring presidential candidates to nominate running mates.
The 88-year-old octogenarian at the helm of both Zanu PF and the country since majority rule 32 years ago will reportedly take advantage of his usual Monday meetings with Tsvangirai to find a solution that could cool tempers in his deeply fractured party.
Briefings to the Daily News at the weekend by Zanu PF politburo members reveal that Mugabe would seek to persuade Tsvangirai to push his party to amend the draft on the issue of running mates. This will not be first time Mugabe has turned to his bitter rival to solve his problems.
Following the WikiLeaks revelations that Mugabe’s closest allies in Zanu PF had been secretly meeting United States officials, the 88-year-old leader confided his anger and frustrations in Tsvangirai. Mugabe has also been confiding with Tsvangirai on his health woes.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed in an interview his boss will be meeting Mugabe today but declined to say whether they would discuss the contentious clause.
“The Prime Minister will meet the President as always tomorrow (today) but it will be presumptuous for me to speculate on what will be the subject of their discussion or their agenda for this specific meeting,” Tamborinyoka said yesterday.
A chaotic and emotive politburo meeting on Friday spilled into the wee hours of Saturday but failed to find a solution as warring factions jostled for 15 hours to assert authority and have their way in determining the future of the divided party.
“It was hot, rather boiling, and sometimes rather inconsiderate to ageing members like the President but it had to be done although nothing really came out of it. The issue of running mates took most of the time.
“The clause runs against Zanu PF’s constitution because congress decides who takes over while according to this draft Mugabe has a chance to determine who succeeds him,” said a highly-placed source. Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, could neither deny nor confirm the issue of running mates had divided the party.
“We had a long meeting that ended at 1:30am Saturday. It was robust and candid debate,” Gumbo said. Asked whether Mugabe had suggested he would take up the issue of running mates with Tsvangirai, Gumbo seemed stuck.
“No, no, no those are some people who want to complicate matters. I cannot disclose to you the finer details of our discussions or if the President will discuss with the Prime Minister,” is all he could say.
According to the new draft constitution Section 5.5 (2) a presidential candidate has to nominate two running mates who will jointly contest the election with him/her.
“Every candidate for election as President must nominate two persons to stand for election jointly with him or her as his or her vice-presidents, and must designate one of those persons as his or her candidate for first vice-president and the other as his or her candidate for second vice-president,” states the draft.
Zimbabwe is currently stuck in the throes of a succession battle for the control of Zanu PF that has captured the imagination of the country and at times the region and beyond.
Early this month, Mugabe pulled the rug from under Mnangagwa’s feet by surprisingly disbanding a vital party mechanism that drove the party’s election strategy — the District Coordinating Committees (DCCs).
Mnangagwa’s faction had trounced bitter rival Mujuru’s faction in DCC elections countrywide thereby strengthening his hand at succeeding Mugabe.
The decision to dissolve the DCCs has been met with resistance particularly by senior members from Mnangagwa’s home province of Midlands and Masvingo who in turn have demanded the dissolution of the powerful politburo.
It would be a humiliating climax to Zanu PF’s intriguing succession matrix and a huge bruise on Mugabe’s ego if he were forced to consult his biggest political opponent in history on the resolution to a war of attrition that has threatened to sink not only his party but also the country. Daily News
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