VP appointments: Zimbabwe in suspense

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa left the country in suspense yesterday after he deferred naming his two deputies to another day, the Daily News can report.

“We have vacancies for vice presidents (VPs). This will need me to clear other areas, so I am delaying the appointments of these two for another two days,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa was widely expected to name his deputies yesterday in line with the party’s constitution that gives him the prerogative to do so. Although he left the nation hanging, the race for the positions has been narrowed to a few faces.

Those who were appointed into the politburo yesterday are effectively out of the running.

The list includes Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who is now the party’s national chairperson; Obert Mpofu (secretary for administration); Patrick Chinamasa (secretary for finance); Major General Engelbert Rugeje (secretary for the commissariat); Lovemore Matuke (secretary for security); July Moyo (secretary for transport); Christopher Mutsvangwa (secretary for science and technology); Victor Matemadanda (secretary for war veterans, detainees and restrictees); Munyaradzi Machacha (head of Chitepo Ideological College); Paul Mangwana (secretary for legal affairs); Mabel Chinomona (secretary for women’s affairs); Pupurai Togarepi (secretary for youth affairs, and Simon Khaya-Moyo (secretary for information).

In terms of the ruling party’s constitution, Mnangagwa must appoint one of the two VPs in line with the Unity Accord, signed between Mugabe (Zanu) and Joshua Nkomo (Zapu) in 1987 to end the disturbances that rocked the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the 1980s.

Until recently, that position was occupied by Phelekezela Mphoko who was swept aside by the wave triggered by the military intervention in Zanu PF’s internal affairs last month.

With Mpofu and Khaya-Moyo having been removed from the equation after being appointed secretaries for administration and information respectively, the position could either go to Kembo Mohadi, Tshinga Dube or Jacob Mudenda.

These cadres did not get posts in the politburo despite their record of defending Mnangagwa and the respect they command in the Matabeleland region.

Army General Constantino Chiwenga appears to be shoo-in for the other VP slot reserved for cadres who were with Zanu before the signing of the Unity Accord.

Sydney Sekeramayi, the former Defence minister who could have given Chiwenga a good run for his money, appears forgotten by the new dispensation calling the shots in Zanu PF’s scheme of things.

This is after he became one of the bigwigs that were being tipped by the Generation 40 cabal to succeed former president Robert Mugabe before its demise last month.

Muchinguri-Kashiri, another of the Zanu PF heavyweights that were being touted for the position before the extraordinary congress, is now out of the way after she was appointed the party’s national chairperson.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said by deferring VP appointments, Mnangagwa could be in a political dilemma as he has a large pool of people to please following his appointment as president with the assistance of the army.

“He is in some political catch-22 of sorts. He has to appease four main groups-Lacoste faction, war veterans, women’s league and military. He also has to satisfy the Ndebele-Shona-Zipra-Zanla matrix. The delay is indicative of tussling, backdoor diplomacy and negotiations within this political complex. He is literally under siege and has to please everyone who backed him and this will be his undoing and cause for downfall,” said Saungweme.

“By appointing Mai Kashiri he has dealt somehow with the issue of women in the party’s presidium. So now negotiations are inclusion of (army boss Constantino) Chiwenga, general (Phillip Valerio) Sibanda, Mohadi and Sekeramayi. From these four we will get next Zanu PF VPs. So he is in a quandary. So they have to talk a bit more,” Saungweme said.

He however, said that Mnangagwa could break the ranks and pull a shocker and appoint a dark horse, though hinting that this could be far-fetched.

“Just like he has broken with tradition to have … Kashiri, a woman as chairperson, they might be forced to break with tradition and appoint a Ndebele, Sibanda as Commander Defence Forces. This then paves way for Mohadi and Chiwenga. He might even confound us and have three VPs as he tries to placate everyone. But his ascendancy to power is his downfall. The seeds are already sown. He is trying to placate all and he will inevitably fail,” he said.

Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa also echoed Saungweme’s sentiments, saying Mnangagwa could be in a catch-22 situation.

“He needs to reward the Generals who view his new throne as their gift, at the same time there are party stalwarts who have been politically active and earmarking also the higher post. Giving the Generals the VP post might again confirm that indeed they staged a coup yet they are preaching smart politics.

“It might also be that they are trying to find who can replace the Generals if they move into politics. This is because, in the military they seem to follow seniority but the most seniors might not be so loyal to the incumbent. In short he is dealing with a post-coup delicate situation,” Hamauswa said.

Respected political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said it is now clear that no woman will be among the two VPs in as much as the hand of Mohadi has been strengthened.

“At least we now know that the appointment will not be from a female candidate, seeing that Oppah has been appointed the party’s chairperson. It’s a delicate balancing act and the pressure is piling on him especially considering the role played by the army on his ascendency,” Masunungure said.

He said Mnangagwa has to be seen to be playing above regional and tribal lines, adding that the delicacy of the whole issue is what precluded him from appointing the VPs yesterday.

He said from the Zipra side, Mohadi now stands a chance to be one of those that could be appointed. – Daily News