American Embassy officials have been trying to get Members of Parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in President Mugabe, it has emerged.
Investigations show that this was part of a double-pronged strategy that included challenging President Mugabe’s incumbency at the Zanu-PF’s Congress in December.
As such, President Mugabe would have first lost control of Zanu-PF, and then lost the State presidency via Parliamentary procedures hinged on Section 97 (Removal of President or Vice President from office) of the Constitution.
This ties in with revelations last Thursday by First Lady and Zanu-PF Women’s League Secretary-elect Amai Grace Mugabe that Vice President Mujuru, working with other party officials and their private sector financiers, were pushing for President Mugabe’s ouster just a year after he resoundingly won the July 31 election.
War veterans who met the First Lady supported her for fearlessly speaking against attempts to push out Cde Mugabe as Zanu-PF’s First Secretary and President, and National President.
Section 97 of the Constitution reads: “(1) The Senate and the National Assembly, by a joint resolution passed by at least one-half of their total membership, may resolve that the question whether or not the President or a Vice President should be removed from office for
“(a) serious misconduct; (b) failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution; (c) willful violation of this Constitution; or (d) inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity; should be investigated in terms of this section.
“(2) Upon the passing of a resolution in terms of subsection (1), the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders must appoint a joint committee of the Senate and the National Assembly consisting of nine members reflecting the political composition of Parliament, to investigate the removal from office of the President or Vice President as the case may be.
“(3) If — (a) the joint committee appointed in terms of subsection (2) recommends the removal from office of the President or Vice President; and (b) the Senate and the National Assembly, by a joint resolution passed by at least two-thirds of their total membership, resolve that the President or Vice President, as the case may be, should be removed from office; the President or Vice President thereupon ceases to hold office.”
Zanu-PF sources last week said the initial attempts started under the old Constitution with the US Embassy exploring if MPs would impeach President Mugabe during the inclusive Government era (2008 to 2013).
The plan involved securing key parliamentary posts including that of Leader of the House (House of Assembly) to rally Zanu-PF and MDC legislators to collaborate on the scheme.
In 2009, Vice President Mujuru reportedly met MDC-T women’s assembly chair Mrs Theresa Makone to catapult Goromonzi West National Assembly Member Cde Beatrice Nyamupinga to the helm of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus despite Zanu-PF having chosen Cde Monica Mutsvangwa.
Cde Mutsvangwa — who beat Cde Nyamupinga in the party primaries — would have landed the post, courtesy of a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the Zanu-PF and MDC-T women’s caucuses to endorse elected candidates without resorting to polls.
However, a poll was uncharacteristically conducted and MDC-T parliamentarians helped secure Cde Nyamupinga’s ascension following VP Mujuru’s meeting with Mrs Makone.
Cde Mutsvangwa told The Sunday Mail on Friday: “I am not a guru on that (vote of no confidence scheme). But the way she fought me is not surprising. From the time we returned from the liberation struggle, we had never had any quarrels.
“I was shocked. I had respect for her, but she decided to sacrifice me. I got 17 votes and Biata got three in the primary. The Vice President said, ‘No. that’s not what I want.’ So she ordered a re-do. She said we should vote as MDC-T and Zanu-PF. She had discussed with Makone.”
Investigations show that the Americans then tried to build support for a vote of no confidence when the new Constitution was enacted in May 2013, a year-and-a-half after VP Mujuru met former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Charles Ray secretly on the outskirts of Harare.
CIA spy Mr Eric Ryan Little was posted to the US Embassy in July 2013 under the cover of second secretary (parliamentary affairs) ostensibly to recruit as many legislators to the plan.
Since arriving, Mr Little has attended numerous parliamentary sessions to “talent spot” Zanu-PF and MDC MPs likely to divulge party secrets and has met those he identified, promising them funding under the US Ambassador’s Self Help Fund which disburses between US$5 000 and US$25 000 to selected community projects.
He attended Zanu-PF’s 2013 Annual People’s Conference in Chinhoyi and State events which he used as cover to further engage his targets and link up with other MPs.
Mr Little has met Cdes Beatrice Nyamupinga, Temba Mliswa, Amos Midzi, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, Paul Mavhima, Enias Damani Diamonds Mumvuri, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, Joseph Mapiki, Tapera Machingauta, Ladislus Ndoro, Tendai Makunde, David Butau, Byton Mike Musaka and Christopher Mutematsaka.
He also met MDC-T legislators James Maridadi, Eddie Cross, Willas Madzimure and Reggie Moyo.
In his meetings with Zanu-PF MPs, Mr Little shuttled between development assistance and national governance issues, and inquired whether President Mugabe would be challenged at the party’s elective National Congress in December and about the succession matrix.
Though the legislators’ co-operation could not be immediately determined, a Zanu-PF provincial chair closely linked to Mr Little told The Sunday Mail that senior party officials wanted to unseat President Mugabe at Congress and replace him with VP Mujuru.
The chair — who indicated that US funding for the project was already available — revealed that he and some of his fellow provincial leaders have been canvassing grassroots support to constitute an Electoral College to oust Cde Mugabe.
Amai Mugabe disclosed the plot, in part, during her countrywide “Meet the People” rallies when she castigated the VP and provincial leaderships of Mashonaland Central, East and West as well as Masvingo, Manicaland, Bulawayo and Harare.
She openly criticised Mashonaland East provincial chair Cde Ray Kaukonde for funding factional activities.
Our source said: “While Amai Mugabe is busy drumming up support for the removal of VP Mujuru, the Electoral College is eyeing to remove the President at Congress.
“The provincial leaders and senior Politburo members in other provinces are uniting behind Amai Mujuru.”
According to the provincial chair, the conspirators expected President Mugabe to sack VP Mujuru and Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa on his return from Italy last week.
In that case, the VP and her backers would have teamed up with opposition parties such as MDC-T, MDC Renewal and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn all of which sprang to Cde Mujuru’s defence last week while attacking the First Lady for retracing their formation to the VP’s house.
The provincial chair said since President Mugabe has not fired his deputy, the second option was for VP Mujuru to resign before Congress and leave the party alongside her backers.
“We are ready to pull out of Zanu-PF with the VP. As provincial leaders, we are young radicals. He (the President) forgets that we have the people in the provinces and we can sway them to our direction. We can get funding from the Americans and we can emerge a stronger party after the collapse of Zanu PF.
“There is backing from senior Politburo members who felt belittled by Amai Mugabe during her rallies.”
Another Zanu-PF source told The Sunday Mail: “The Americans tried to infiltrate by funding Parliamentary programmes. They then sought MPs’ support to remove the President using Constitutional provisions.
“We have always been aware of the plot, which began in 2008. Their idea was to use institutions like Parliament and also work from within the party.”
US Embassy officials have declined to comment, saying they do not discuss “diplomatic activities” in the media.