Former President Robert Mugabe turned 94 this past week and with his birthday came stories of his issues with the current administration. Some of these stories were conveyed to the African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, when he paid a courtesy call to the former President at his Blue Roof mansion.
Just saying with Paul Kaseke
If the coverage by The Standard is anything to go by, then it seems to me that the former President is very bitter but beyond that there is an extreme sense of entitlement that both he and his wife share. After all the looting and atrocities they committed, I expected them to stay out of the media and give Zimbabweans a chance to forgive and hopefully forget how much we suffered because of them.
Instead of doing so, he criticises the current administration as being autocratic (the irony) and complains about his wife crying daily over what is perceived to be harassment.
Former First Lady Grace Mugabe was notorious for making other people’s lives miserable by her abuse of her husband’s office and for rendering many people homeless. If anything, she should be crying in regret over what she did.
One case that springs to mind is the Arnold Farm case, where 137 people were removed (violently so, if I may add) to pave way for Grace’s ventures. There are many other things that she did that should in fact be the subject of some criminal investigation at some stage.
Speaking of investigation, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc)’s statement that she is not currently being investigated for the fake PhD that the University of Zimbabwe conferred on her is quite baffling to say the least.
As the commissioners probably (or ought to know), corruption is generally a bilateral act which requires two to tango. There is no way that one can investigate UZ vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura without looking at the recipient of the object of corruption who in this case, is the former first lady.
To do this would completely undermine the commission’s integrity and competence because in almost all cases, the recipient of corrupt activities makes the initiative. I find it hard to believe that the VC unilaterally bended the rules on his own initiative. It must have been done at the instigation of someone.
Furthermore, there is of course a criminal element to be a knowing recipient of corruption-based outcomes. If the PhD was completed fraudulently, logically, the supposed candidate would know. Zacc must be seen to be impartial and not defy legal logic with this case. If there are any charges for the VC, the former First Lady must also account for her role in the fraudulent degree.
Another interesting event of the past week was the issue around the internal bickering and succession issues in the MDC-T. The result of this bickering was the ensuing violence at the funeral of the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
One of the fascinating sticking points was the fact that most people in the leadership either professed ignorance as to the existence of a party constitution post the amendment in 2014 or that nobody knew where to find it. In fact, there is confusion as to the enabling document that allowed for the creation of two additional vice presidents.
In my view, this is where the starting point should be. If nobody can produce that document and demonstrate the succession plan created by that amendment or version, then the party’s constitution as it stood post 2014 applies. It is clear in terms of that constitution that the deputy president of the party is the rightful person to take over as acting president until an extra-ordinary congress is called for. This is in terms of clause 9.21.1 of the last publicly available constitution.
In 2017, I argued that the creation of those two additional posts dribbled the constitution in that it was not provided for and the proper process of doing so was not followed, but that was dismissed by many. The problem now lies in the fact that the last known constitution refers to only one deputy president and now that there are three, the question of constitutional legitimacy lingers.
I am worried that a party that clamours on constitutionalism does not have a publicly accessible constitution that is up to date and that is known by some sectors of the leadership. It is the same problem that we now see with national government which is largely aloof about the Constitution and their role in terms of it. It does not make sense that a party has some leaders who are unware of the constitution or its location to want to call out the current government for being unconstitutional when they themselves are unclear about their constitution.
In my view, the party has breached its own constitution several times before this current dilemma begun.
That makes them lose the moral high ground to call out Zanu PF on constitutionalism. They must first display constitutionalism at home before picking out the failures of others in this regard.
I know many have said what is important is to get someone with a majority following or a huge support base which would result in the party winning the next election, but that must not be done at any cost. We need parties that respect legal instruments not reincarnations of Zanu PF which altogether disregarded its constitution when it decided to allow Mugabe to make appointments to the politburo instead of allowing for envisaged elections.
The MDC should learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of Zanu PF if they want to truly be seen as democrats who respect constitutionalism. They must also be more transparent with their processes and affairs to avoid the current mudslinging. A publicly available and up-to-date constitution prevents confusion, misinformation, succession disputes and does not give room for opportunistic elements.
Lastly, there was the interesting Parliamentary Committee session with the Minister of Home Affairs, Obert Mpofu. I don’t want to dwell much on his shameful conduct because there is no doubt that it was contemptuous of parliament and a breach of the Constitution in that members of the Executive need to be accountable to parliament.
The arrogance with which he refused to answer questions based on his history with the Chair of the portfolio and on the basis, that he is no longer the responsible minister, shows the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration has a long way to go before they can be said to uphold and respect the Constitution.
If the Mnangagwa administration is to gain respect and be different from the previous administration then Mpofu must be reprimanded and possibly be removed from Cabinet as he clearly feels no need to be accountable for his actions, yet the President has been preaching reform, accountability and better governance. To walk the talk, something must urgently be done in that regard . . . just saying.