The mother of all wars has now broken out in President Robert Mugabe’s sharply divided Zanu PF party, with many of its leading lights, including some liberation war pioneers, deciding that it is time to confront the nonagenarian head-on.
In an unprecedented move which is set to shake the ruling party to its core, and possibly result in the party of liberation splitting down the middle, party heavyweights led by former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, have called Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare late last year “null and void”.
They also, ominously, pooh-poohed all the party appointments and changes that were made just before, during and after the controversial congress — pitting themselves for a titanic showdown with Mugabe, his quarrelsome wife Grace and party hardliners who led the assault on former Vice President Joice Mujuru and all party officials who were perceived to be sympathetic to her.
In a statement availed to the Daily News yesterday, that was provocatively signed by Mutasa in his capacity as the ruling party’s secretary for administration, “in the broad interest of democracy and in defense of the Zanu PF founding principles”, the disaffected party members called for the nullification of the entire process of “the so-called congress”, deeming it constitutionally flawed, and agitated for the re-instatement of “the entire constitutionally-elected office bearers of the party in all structures of all wings, as at the 1st of July 2014”.
The no-holds barred statement also called for the nullification of all “purported constitutional amendments drafted and rail-roaded immediately before this so-called congress”, as well as the restoration of the “elective dignity of congress and the one-man one-vote principle as enunciated by our armed struggle and constitution”.
“The sad events of the past months reflect a deep-seated historical failure by the party leadership to correctly handle internal contradictions in the party. Each time the party faces challenges, it resorts to brute force.
“It fails to sum up its mistakes and experiences and provide durable solutions. Contradictions within the party and society as a whole are natural and expected, but these are non antagonistic and should be resolved through debate, dialogue and negotiations.
“Leaders’ energy should be channelled towards enhancing democracy, freedom and unity within the party. Constructive criticism and self-criticism are some of the positive core values of the liberation movement and should be encouraged and embraced,” the statement said.
Mutasa said he had signed the statement on behalf of “the entire membership of the party who believe in constitutional law and authority, and the principle of one-man one-vote”, as well as “all elected office bearers who have been unconstitutionally and unceremoniously removed from office without charge, all current office bearers who recognise and accept that they are unconstitutionally appointed, and all past members of Zanu PF, expelled or who dissociated with Zanu PF voluntarily in prior years due to perceived lack of democratic principles and practice in the party”.
The group said it was “determined to restore the image” of Zanu PF, adding that the statement was a follow-up to Mutasa’s letter to Sadc leaders late last year in which he also slated the party’s December congress.
“As loyal members of Zanu PF, we agree with these points (that Mutasa raised with Sadc) and further appeal to Sadc to assist in resolving this crisis created by the so-called ‘congress’ which continues to be a serious threat to the stability of Zanu PF, Zimbabwe and the region at large,” they said.
They also “categorically” refuted and dismissed all the allegations “peddled by certain counter-revolutionaries, that Amai Mujuru and others plotted to oust the First Secretary and President of Zanu PF and the Republic of Zimbabwe, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe from being President through assassination.
“Amai Mujuru and others categorically deny the allegations. The allegations are malicious and preposterous, and have no foundation whatsoever.
“It is a clear political smear campaign intended to tarnish and obliterate Amai Mujuru’s history of commitment and dedication to the liberation of this country and the betterment of the people of Zimbabwe.
“Zanu PF has never been a platform for settling personal vendettas, but a revolutionary movement with a clear mandate to foster unity, peace and development, and most importantly to champion the economic recovery of Zimbabwe. We should go back to the founding principles of the Patriotic Front.
“We refuse to allow our beloved party to be destroyed by power hungry political imposters who have abused party structures for personal gain. All provinces under the leadership of the ousted chairmen had unanimously endorsed Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the First Secretary and President of the Party.
“How could they rebel against a President they have endorsed? This was propaganda which was aimed at making people fear to associate with Amai Mujuru, and must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves,” the group said in their hard-hitting statement.
Zeroing in on Zanu PF’s “illegitimate congress”, they condemned the alleged disregard of Zanu PF’s constitution in the lead-up to, and during the gathering.
Irregularities at the congress included the “questionable constitutionality of the so-called” congress and unprocedural changes to the party’s constitution.
“According to the constitution, a true Zanu PF congress must be elective, providing a free and fair platform for all the party members to elect leaders of their choice without intimidation, victimisation, fear or trepidation.
“This unconstitutional meeting denied members of Zanu PF their constitutional rights through often violent intimidation and coercion and the last minute illegal amendments made to the constitution.
“The politburo and central committee meetings immediately preceding the so-called congress were shrouded in threats, fear, and total failure to express individual opinion. This unconstitutional meeting therefore denied innocent members their constitutional right to freely elect leaders of their choice,” the statement said,
And because the procedures for making changes to the party’s constitution were not followed, the changes that were made to the Zanu PF constitution in December were “a nullity”.
“We believe that if Zanu PF allows this to go unchallenged, we would be indirectly posing a threat to the National Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe. This approach to constitutionalism by a Ruling Party can pose a risk to constitutionalism at the national level,” the group said.
They also panned the ?“unlawful and irregular votes of no confidence” that had been aimed at people perceived to be associated with, or sympathetic to Mujuru.
“It must be noted that it is not a criminal offence to agree with someone’s point of view, and or to appreciate their integrity as a leader in upholding Party values and principles.
“The culling of the Provincial Chairmen and people who were elected by the majority of members in their provinces by small rented crowds of hooligans, purporting to represent the majority provincial members who had previously voted by secret ballot was and remains unconstitutional and therefore illegal,” they added.
They also bemoaned the fact that members had been robbed of their constitutional right to appeal through the party’s National Disciplinary Committee as provided for in Zanu PF’s constitution.
“The continued threats on party office bearers rendered the National Disciplinary Committee powerless, and further eroding the democratic principles and values that have been the foundation of the valiant party since its inception.
“?The ‘votes of no confidence’ were passed by people who were not in the party structures. How could a person elected into office by thousands in the province be removed from office by a group of people who are not even provincial members?
“These ‘votes of no confidence’ were illegal, null and void. We reject the summary dismissals of people without following Zanu PF’s own constitution, and the basic rules of natural justice provided by the Zanu PF and National Constitutions, such as the right to be heard, free of bias and prejudice,” they said.
They further noted that all this had resulted in the erosion of internal party democracy.
In remarks that are set to needle Grace and raise emotions among party hardliners, the group roundly criticised “destructive pre-congress rallies”.
“The rallies leading to the so-called “6th National People’s Congress” left a trail of destruction and division in the party.
“Outside the party and the country’s constitutions and any moral tenets, Amai Grace Mugabe went around the country preaching the gospel of hate in the presence of our very impressionable youths and the traumatised impoverished population,” the statement said pointedly.
It added that “clique of evil plotters” had successfully “waylaid” Grace and Mugabe, using them as “weapons to unleash venomous and uncouth statements against anyone they perceived to be standing for the original Zanu PF values, ideals and ethos”.
“As upright cadres of the revolution, we resolutely and patiently waited for the cardinal direction of our elected First Secretary and President of Zanu PF, but his customary clear and unequivocal stance did not come until this undemocratic congress.
“In disbelief Zanu PF and the whole nation listened to their leader berating his own protégés not only in the party but in government and the august House of parliament.
“It will go down in the annals of our Zanu PF history that for the first time the elected leader alienated himself from the people by this behaviour. Instead of mapping the road for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and major policies uplifting our people, the congress became a farce and degenerated into a praise and worship playhouse.
“We strongly and regrettably bemoan the fact that this clique has robbed President R.G. Mugabe of his legacy as a unifier, a rational thinker and not only a national leader, but also one who inspired the region and the continent of Africa.
“After the 2014 whirlwind of legislation of mob rule, summarily expulsion of loyal members for perceived support of a sitting Vice
President and as mentioned above, departure from the undisputable tenet of the liberation struggle – “one-man one-vote” to imposition of leaders, we now wonder how the nation, region and continent view our once revered President,” the statement said scathingly.
Given the alleged illegality of “the so-called congress”, there was “neither constitutional nor moral authority for it to form structures that can lead both the party and the government”. Daily News