President Robert Mugabe’s disregard for the Zanu PF constitution will make a smooth transition impossible in the event of his death, a leading researcher has said.
Derek Matyszak of the Research and Advocacy Unit — in a report titled Succession and the Zanu PF Constitution — noted that the fact Mugabe relied on “guided democracy” in filling senior posts would be a recipe for disaster. Matyszak said Mugabe used his power to flout the party’s constitution in the nomination of officials to fill the vacant posts when Vice-Presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika died.
Msika became Vice-President after Nkomo’s death in 1999 and Zanu PF used the 1987 Unity Accord with Zapu to fill the vacant post.
After Muzenda’s death in 2003, Mugabe ordered a constitutional amendment to ensure Joice Mujuru landed the post ahead of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the candidate preferred by many provinces.
Mujuru’s rise led to the Tsholotsho debacle that claimed many scalps from the party as Mugabe tried to purge those who supported Mnangagwa.
Second Vice-President John Nkomo’s elevation also needed Mugabe to whip the provinces into line following some resistance.
Matyszak said in the aftermath of the Tsholotsho debacle, Mugabe had used the politburo to impose his will, flouting the constitution in the process.
“In the role of implementer of Mugabe’s policies, using procedures often outside the confines of the party constitution, the politburo has become enormously powerful since Tsholotsho,” he said.
Matyszak cited the disbandment of the district co-ordinating committees (DCCs) as another way used by Mugabe to exert his power on the party because the DCCs had become too influential in determining nomination of candidates for the Presidium.
He said leaving Mugabe to dictate terms for his succession would prove costly once the 88-year-old leader exits the scene.
“The democratic processes set out in the Zanu PF constitution, and sidelined by Mugabe, will be reinvigorated and activated,” Matyszak said.
He said to save the party, the central committee must exercise its power to amend the Zanu PF constitution and establish a more democratic nomination process.