By Chengetai Zvauya and Xolisani Ncube
HARARE – The new draft constitution recently presented to political party principals has turned out to be a curse for the former ruling party Zanu PF as it has worsened the split between supporters aligned to two senior party officials — Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mujuru is the Vice President in the current coalition government while Mnangagwa is Defence minister and despite strenuous denials by both, they are known to lead factions in the former ruling party. Both are said to be involved in deep-rooted infighting as they battle to succeed Mugabe.
Zanu PF leader, President Robert Mugabe will this Wednesday chair yet another Zanu PF politburo meeting with a view of finalising a review of the draft constitution amid reports that the party’s contentious issue remains that of his two running mates.
This week’s politburo meeting will try to bring fighting factions within Zanu PF together so they collectively come up with a definite position regarding the new draft constitution.
Apart from battling to contain disgruntlements within his party, Mugabe has to also deal with his government coalition partners who have ganged up against him in endorsing the draft constitution.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and breakaway MDC of Welshman Ncube have already endorsed the new draft charter saying no amendments were necessary.
In the past three weeks, Mugabe has been forced to chair Zanu PF politburo meetings sitting for more 36 hours as faction leaders (Mnangagwa and Mujuru) continued to tear each other apart over contents in the draft constitution produced by Copac and the disbanded District Coordinating Committees (DCCs).
Mnangagwa, viewed as one of the front runners to succeed Mugabe and said to be leading a faction that has its dominance in Midlands, last week denied having ambitions to replace the 88 year old liberation fighter.
The Defence Minister was quoted by state media dismissing claims he heads a faction battling to replace Mugabe. “I am equally surprised by what the private media has been reporting. Those reports are false.”
A clause in the new draft constitution that has created fierce debate within Zanu PF demands that presidential candidates nominate two campaign running mates for succession purposes.
While faction leaders within Zanu PF are already preparing themselves to run along Mugabe as running mates, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo poured cold water on the issue when he told state media last Monday that most politburo members wanted the “running mates clause” removed.
“The issue was raised and most members of the Politburo preferred appointment of vice presidents rather than their election. This is for the simple reason that if you elect a running mate, who might be ambitious and power hungry, she/he can upset the entire operations of the system,” said Gumbo.
Mujuru believes she has support even in the military where her late husband, retired general Solomon Mujuru reportedly had influence. Solomon Mujuru was the backbone behind the rise of Joice Mujuru to the post of vice president.
He was also one of the few man in Zanu PF who had the guts to challenge Mugabe’s continuation cling to power. Joice Mujuru is also said to have become very close to Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo in the last few months and this might give her an urge in the succession battle.
On the other hand, Mnangagwa seems to enjoy grassroots support and the recent disbandment of DCCs dealt him a major blow as he had won almost all recent elections marred with vote rigging, violence and allegations of candidate imposition.
Mnangagwa had clobbered Mujuru even in her home province of Mashonaland Central leading to suggestions she was losing her quest to replace Mugabe. The DCCs were responsible for coordinating party activities on the ground and were a powerful electoral college.
Mugabe was forced to give on the DCC fight as a way of accommodating both factions with the politburo agreeing to reassign DCC leaders to other party portfolios.
Apart from Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions, Zanu PF is believed to have split into five factions; the ‘Generation 40’ which is believed to be led by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, the army aligned group and those still loyal to Mugabe.
Although none of the faction leaders have publicly stated their wish to replace Mugabe, political dynamics within the party point to a fact that faction leaders are looking for political life after Mugabe’s tenure. Daily News