Too early for Grace Mugabe’s supporters to celebrate




Grace Mugabe (Picture: Tsvangirai Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwean media, especially the online media, has been awash with headlines like: “Grace Mugabe in Zimbabwe leadership race”, “Moves to make Grace Mugabe Zimbabwe VP”, “Grace Mugabe takes over from Bob”, “Grace Mugabe takes charges of ZANU-PF congress” “ Plans to make Grace Mugabe Zimbabwe President”, “Grace Mugabe for President”, “Mugabe succession: Grace Mugabe starts Mnangagwa elimination process”.

The headlines are based on the assumption that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front is going to hold an elective congress in December at which the constitution is going to be amended to put a close that one of the Vice-Presidents should be a woman.

Since the constitution already says that the party should have two vice-presidents, one from the former Zimbabwe African People’s Union and the other from the former Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the former ZANU-PF will nominate Grace and thus push out Mnangagwa.

This was tried in 2015 but Mnangagwa supporters are said to have agreed to a woman vice-president but came up with a former ZAPU candidate thus scuttling the plan to prop Grace.

It is not clear why the same cannot happen at the proposed congress unless Mnangagwa and his supporters have been totally decimated they cannot challenge the nomination.

But what seems to have been totally forgotten is that if ZANU-PF goes by the book, it cannot amend its constitution unless the special congress is held next year and not in December.

According to the party constitution: “Any proposed amendments shall be submitted to the Secretary for Administration at least three months before the date of the meeting of the Central Committee at which the amendment is to be considered;

“The Secretary for Administration, upon receipt of the proposed amendments, shall cause the same to be circulated to the Provinces at least two months before the date of meeting.”

Unless these provisions were amended in 2014, it means that the party does not have enough time to do what is required to make legal constitutional amendments.

Besides, the constitution specifically states that a special congress can “deliberate only on those matters for which it has been specifically convened”.

This poses the question why was the special congress called? To endorse Mugabe. To hold elections? Which elections since vice-presidents are now appointed?

According to a legal expert, so far the special congress seems to have been called to endorse Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate next year, something that could have been done at the usual annual conference. If that is the case, the expert argues, then the case of VPs does not arise.

It will therefore not be a walk over for G40 and Grace Mugabe’s supporters.

Perhaps their only weapon is that, according to the party constitution, no one can take the party to court for violating its own constitution.

The constitution states: “Any issue or matter arising in connection with the interpretation or application of this Constitution which cannot be resolved otherwise under this Constitution shall be referred for determination to the Central Committee whose decision thereon shall be final.”

Here is what the ZANU-PF constitution says, unless amended in 2014

Extraordinary Congress

23. An extraordinary session of Congress may be convened .whenever it is deemed necessary and at the instance of:-

(1) the majority of the members of the Central Committee; or

(2) the President and First Secretary, at the instance of not less than one third of members of the Central Committee, or

(3) the President and First Secretary, at the instance of at least five Provincial Executive Councils by resolutions to that effect;

24. the President and First Secretary, on receipt of a resolution requesting an extraordinary session of Congress, shall forward the same to the Secretary for Administration.

25. The Secretary for Administration shall, on receipt of the said resolution, give at least six weeks notice convening an extraordinary session of Congress.

26. The Central Committee shall formulate the necessary procedures for the execution of the business of the extraordinary session of the Congress.

27. The extraordinary session of Congress shall deliberate only on those matters for which it has been specifically convened.

28. Three-quarters of the members of Congress shall ‘ form a quorum for the convening of the extraordinary session.

Interpretation of the Constitution

252. Any issue or matter arising in connection with the interpretation or application of this Constitution which cannot be resolved otherwise under this Constitution shall be referred for determination to the Central Committee whose decision thereon shall be final.

Amendments to the Constitution

253. The power to amend the Constitution shall vest in the Central Committee subject to ratification by Congress and the following provisions shall apply in respect thereof: –

(1) Any member of the Party supported by fifty other members may propose or move an amendment to the Constitution and shall be required to submit such proposed amendment to the District Coordinating Committee which shall, on receipt of the said proposed amendment, forward the same to the Provincial Executive Council;

(2) Any organ of the Party may propose or move an amendment to the Constitution and shall, in the case of subordinate organs of the Party, be required to submit such proposed amendment to the next superior Party organ for onward transmission to the Provincial Executive Council;

(3) The Provincial Executive Council shall, in the case of all proposed amendments, whether these emanate from it or from subordinate Party organs, forward the same to the Secretary for Administration;

(4) Any proposed amendments shall be submitted to the Secretary for Administration at least three months before the date of the meeting of the Central Committee at which the amendment is to be considered;

(5) The Secretary for Administration, upon receipt of the proposed amendments, shall cause the same to be circulated to the Provinces at least two months before the date of meeting;

(6) A two-thirds majority of delegates of Central Committee present and voting shall be required for the adoption of the proposed amendment to the Constitution.

(7) A two-thirds majority of delegates of Congress present and voting shall be required for the ratification of amendments effected by the Central Committee.

The Insider