The ruling Zanu-PF party, beset by vicious infighting, is one vote shy of an Extraordinary Congress in December after four provinces on Saturday reportedly said they wanted the special indaba.
The other six provinces will hold their executive council meetings today to determine whether the party should convene an Extraordinary Congress or a scheduled Annual National People’s Conference.
Section 26 of Zanu-PF’s constitution provides for the special indaba if five or more of the party’s PECs request one. Congresses are ordinarily convened every five years and the next one is due in 2019.
While calling for an Extraordinary Congress yesterday, Mashonaland West, Midlands, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South affirmed President Mugabe, as the ruling party’s candidate in next year’s Presidential election, despite the frail 93-year-old leader struggling to walk or remember dates.
Section 30 of Zanu-PF’s constitution says an “Extraordinary Session Zanu-PF heads for Special Congress shall deliberate only on those matters for which it has been specifically convened”. This means other issues cannot be smuggled in once an Extraordinary Congress is called.
Zanu-PF National Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo said: “In the last three months we have been approached as a party by members from various quarters wondering if we should hold the Extraordinary Congress to prepare for next year’s harmonised national elections.
“After noting that the requests were numerous, I presented to Politburo this information and the Politburo, in its wisdom, decided that it is not the duty of the Politburo to decide on that but that this should come from the provinces . . .
“Given the Politburo resolution, I then invited to Harare all provincial chairpersons and provincial political commissars from the 10 provinces and I briefed them on the resolution.
“So we instructed them to go to their provinces and meet as provincial executives to deliberate on the matter and revert back to me on Tuesday with their decision stating whether or not they want the special Congress.”
He went on: “When an Extraordinary Session of Congress is held, it is held in the nation’s capital, in Harare; we don’t hold Congresses outside of the capital. This means that if this decision succeeds then we will be going to Gwanda (for the Conference) at the end of 2018.”
Dr Chombo dismissed claims that the Extraordinary Congress was targeted at removing certain people from their party positions.
“We are simply going to deliberate on matters that relate to the election,” he said.
Questioned on the issues that led to the calls for a Congress, Dr Chombo said: “On account that the last Congress, which ushered us into this session, was held in 2014, a lot has happened in the party.
“A lot of people were removed due to their alliances with (former Vice-President Joice) Mujuru and her cabal. But critically, next year’s election will be the first time that we will be using a new voters’ roll, which is being worked out using the Biometric Voter Registration system – a totally new concept, which we did not have in the past.
“And it also means the old voters’ roll has been destroyed and is no longer valid, so the whole country has to register anew. This coming year voters’ rolls will be polling station-based and these are all new developments.
“So, a lot of people were of the opinion that we need an Extraordinary Congress to look at all these developments and tidy up so that come 2018, we are all in the know as to what is going to happen and what the problems we could face are.
“But also the Constitution has also changed and some people who were ineligible to vote in the past are now eligible to vote because they were born from parents one of whom was non-Zimbabwean. Now, the (Republic) Constitution has a provision stating that all those people must be allowed to vote.
“So, all this has created a situation where others felt it would be better to have an Extraordinary Session of Congress to deliberate on these matters.”
At the Mashonaland West PEC, officials endorsed the Extraordinary Congress and affirmed President Mugabe as the party’s 2018 Presidential candidate. Dr Chombo said the Mashonaland West Provincial Coordinating Committee, which met after the PEC, had also endorsed the two resolutions.
In Midlands, party provincial chair Engineer Daniel Mckenzie Ncube said they wanted an Extraordinary Congress to discuss “Biometric Voter Registration and the polling station-based voters’ rolls, and reaffirming President Mugabe’s candidature for the 2018 harmonised elections”.
He added: “As a province we do not have other issues outside that (to be) discussed.”
Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial chair Dennis Ndlovu said they had endorsed an Extraordinary Congress; with his Matabeleland South counterpart, Rabelani Choeni, stating the same.
“As a province we want an Extraordinary Congress. We are going to submit a report to the headquarters soon and they will let you know of other details discussed in the meeting,” said Ndlovu.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland North provincial chair Richard Moyo said: “We are meeting (today), both the provincial executive council and provincial co-ordinating committee. Just like other provinces, the issue to do with the Extraordinary Congress will be part of the agenda.”
In Harare, party provincial secretary for information and publicity Abicia Ushewokunze said the PEC would meet today.
“. . . all I can say for now is that we will be focussing mainly on voter registration and Special Congress. I cannot answer prematurely but what I can tell you is that President Mugabe is our sole candidate for 2018 regardless, and that won’t change today, tomorrow and never will it change. We stand by our resolution at the last conference. He remains our sole candidate till kingdom come.”
Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chair Ezra Chadzamira said their PEC and PCC would meet today.
“The PEC will first meet at Victoria Primary School and make recommendations that will be tabled before the PCC for endorsement,” he said.
In Manicaland, party provincial chair Dr Samuel Undenge said: “We are holding our PEC and PCC (today). The PEC will start first followed by PPC. Our agenda will be centred on voter registration and the issue of a Special Congress.”
Zanu-PF Mashonaland East PCC member Simbaneuta Mudarikwa said: “We have been invited for the meetings tomorrow and I am going to attend.” The Sunday Mail