‘Zanu PF could regret constitutional changes’




Rugare Gumbo

LIBERATION struggle stalwart and one of the founders of Zanu PF, Rugare Gumbo, says the removal of the running mate clause from the country’s Constitution could come back to haunt the ruling party which has historically struggled with succession.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, Gumbo — who is the only surviving member of Zanu PF’s 1970s Dare reChimurenga (War Council) — said the running mate clause would have helped the former liberation movement with its well-documented succession challenges.

This comes as Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 — which seeks to introduce at least 27 amendments to the country’s supreme law, including dropping the presidential election running mate clause — is on the verge of being affirmed by the Senate, having already sailed through the National Assembly.

The running mate clause was supposed to become operational as from the 2023 general elections, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already indicated he will participate in.

The Bill also intends to amend the country’s supreme law to give a sitting president the power to appoint the prosecutor-general, extend the terms of retiring judges, increase the women’s quota in Parliament by 10 years, create a youth quota in the National Assembly, and appoint more non-constituency ministers, among other things.

The respected Gumbo told the Daily News On Sunday at the weekend that the ruling party, which has a super majority in both houses in Parliament, was setting itself for more chaos in future with regards to its internal succession politics — if the Bill became law.

“As far as I am concerned, the succession issue has been a major issue and until we are able to solve it, we are really running into problems.

“The succession issue has been a fundamental issue since the death of (founding Zanu chairperson Herbert) Chitepo.

“Since then, there hasn’t been a normal and proper succession plan. When (the late former president Robert) Mugabe won power, he ran away with that power and that was unfortunate,” Gumbo told the Daily News On Sunday.

“What is important is that there is a need for democratisation of institutions, ensuring that we have a running mate — whether it is by choice or whatever it is.

“Most of the national liberation movements have succession systems. Look at the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa and Swapo (South West African Political Organisation) in Namibia.

“Serious political parties have clear systems of succession,” the forthright Gumbo further told the Daily News on Sunday, contrasting the situation in the region to Zimbabwe’s.

The former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF spokesperson also said there was palpable mistrust among the ruling party’s bigwigs with regards to its succession politics.

“You can remove the running mate clause, but does this solve the problem? The issue … is a question of trust. Do we have trust in each other or not?

“It appears that the people don’t seem to have trust in each other because there is no trust. Some of us really understand these issues … Some people just see shadows.

“There is a need to build trust in Zanu PF so that this succession issue can be solved without problems,” Gumbo said further.

With the Bill continuing to attract mixed reactions among political parties and pro-democracy groups, Zanu PF has said that the law changes should not be mistaken as a chance to resolve the party’s succession issue.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday’s sister paper the Daily News last week, the ruling party’s secretary for Administration, Obert Mpofu, said Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 was not about Mnangagwa’s succession or sidelining his party and government lieutenants.

Mpofu also said the Bill had no bearing on Mnangagwa’s “close” relationship with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

This comes amid claims that Mnangagwa is the main player behind the amendments, in an alleged bid to consolidate his power and side-line his perceived Zanu PF opponents ahead of the 2023 elections.

“That (the alleged rift between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga) is always wishful thinking by our detractors. There has never been a rift between the two leaders.

“I am the secretary of administration of the party and I co-ordinate all party activities. What I have seen between the two is that they are like brothers. They work very closely together in a very co-ordinated manner.

“There is no way the president can influence a policy (the Bill) which has to be subjected to the democratic system. It has gone through Parliament, Senate and all consultations were done,” Mpofu told the Daily News.

“Where does the president come into all this? There is no problem whatsoever. In Zanu PF we know our positions, limitations and our responsibilities.

“I know where I start and end, as well as the national chairperson and vice president. All of us are commanded by one centre of power, which is the president, His Excellency,” he added.

Mpofu also said it defied logic that Mnangagwa would have appointed and continued to work with Chiwenga if there was bad blood between the two leaders.

“He (Mnangagwa) is the one who appoints us and how does he appoint us and suspect that we are begrudging him? It doesn’t work that way,” he said.

This also comes as fresh fissures have emerged in the former liberation movement which experienced ugly tribal, factional and succession wars in Mugabe’s last few years in power — which only ended after the fall of the long-ruling nonagenarian in November 2017.

Then, Mugabe — who had studiously refused to name a successor — was backing the Generation 40 group which had coalesced around his erratic wife Grace, which was locked in a fierce battle with Mnangagwa’s backers for the control of Zanu PF. – Daily News