The recent appointments of Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko have generated much debate. Of particular interest has been the succession issue and the rise of VP Mphoko, who — as a diplomat —had not been at the forefront of public politicking.
Q: Cde Minister a number of media outlets have been awash with reports that the appointment of VP Mnangagwa, who is currently Acting President, has resolved the succession problem in Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe. Is that the official position in Government?
A: In the first place, Zanu-PF does not have a succession problem in so far as the so-called succession problem is based on the presumption that President Mugabe should designate his successor.
It would be unconstitutional and indeed undemocratic for the President to do that.
As such, those who want the President to designate a successor are either charlatans or enemies of constitutionalism and democracy.
Ironically, these same forces would be the first to jump up and down making all sorts of noises if the President were to designate anyone as his successor.
In the second place, your question is significant only in so far as it confirms that there are some people out there who, for irrational reasons best known to themselves, are bent on confusing an appointment with an anointment or who do not understand the difference between the two.
Neither the Zanu-PF constitution nor the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe has a provision for an anointment of a successor. But both provide for the appointment of vice-presidents.
In the case of the Zanu-PF constitution, one must win election to the Central Committee before being eligible for consideration for appointment as Vice-President and Second Secretary of the party.
And in the case of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the current succession provision does not allow for automatic elevation but requires the political party of the previous incumbent to nominate the successor in accordance with its internal constitutional procedures; and the Zanu-PF constitutional procedure provides for the convening of an Extraordinary Congress to elect a successor should that be necessary.
What this means is that the President can neither appoint nor anoint a successor in terms of both the Zanu-PF and the State constitution.
Happily both constitutions have very clear and well-grounded provisions for succession as to render utterly inconsequential, all the idle talk that Zanu-PF has a succession problem.
Anyone who wants to succeed President Mugabe will have to win the hearts and minds first of the membership of Zanu-PF and then of Zimbabweans.
There’s nothing less or anything more.
Q: But just the other day Acting President Mnangagwa seemed to be describing the period since his appointment as a “new era”, thereby implying a succession transition is underway Cde Minister…
A: That suggestion is in your mind and not in what Acting President Mnangagwa said.
The fact that we are in a new era is indubitable.
What needs to be unpacked is the content of the new era. Those who think it’s about succession are mistaken.
What is new about this era is that the 6th Zanu-PF National People’s Congress resoundingly rejected the politics of two or more centres of power that had taken root in the party over the last decade or so.
Notwithstanding her rhetoric to the contrary, a major distinguishing feature of the Joice Mujuru vice-presidency was the systematic abuse of the power and authority of her office in pursuit of constructive disloyalty to President Mugabe whom she and her cabal of quislings were determined to depose by any means available.
What you should understand here is that the Mujuru power grab was based on the abuse of the authority of the vice presidency as an elective office that was a potential and real centre of power.
That is how things played out between December 2004 and December 2014.
The Zanu-PF Constitution has been amended, not by President Mugabe but by the party’s 6th National People’s Congress, to root out the structural defect that made it possible for a VP to abuse his or her election to setup an alternative centre of power to compete with the President and First Secretary of the Party.
In this regard, we have a new era. There’s another important sense in which we have a new era. Structurally speaking, when a vice president uses an alternative centre of power to compete with his or her boss, the result is policy gridlock.
It is for this reason that, for example, that Zim-Asset was very difficult to implement over the past year. And this kind of gridlock gets worse when the competition becomes, as it did during former VP Mujuru’s decade, factionalised.
The ensuing factionalism assumes the form of an organised opposition to the President and his policy programmes thereby generating a running conflict that harms the public good and national interest.
The good news is that the ruling party has put the structural enablers of factionalism behind, and doing so surely makes for a new era.
The essence of this new era is that both Government and governance are not about filling this or that position in order to use it to grab power for purposes such as succession but that they are for service delivery to enable businesses to generate wealth and national income to create employment to uplift the livelihoods of citizens and residents.
As we speak, this requires all of us from the vice presidents downwards to consciously and deliberately assist President Mugabe who has the solid electoral mandate to govern our country and who has directed that we prioritise the accelerated implementation of Zim-Asset in accordance with the resolutions of the 6th National People’s Congress.
Put bluntly, we have a duty to assist President Mugabe to consolidate and cement his legacy through service delivery promised in the Zanu-PF 2013 election manifesto upon which President Mugabe’s electoral mandate is based.
Q: Moving on to VP Mphoko, there’s been talk in some circles that his appointment is a violation of the 1987 Unity Accord, that the VP ceased being a member of PF-Zapu well before Zimbabwe’s Independence. Has there been such a violation of the Unity Accord? Is there any truth to the allegation that VP Mphoko quit PF-Zapu and is thus ineligible for his present appointment?
A: Well, Article 4 of the historic 1987 Unity accord clearly stipulates that the President and First secretary of Zanu-PF should appoint two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries of Zanu PF: one from the former Zanu and another from the former Zapu.
There cannot be any serious debate whatsoever that VP Mphoko is from former Zapu and that he was in the Zipra hierarchy.
Also, there’s no evidence that can be objectively and independently corroborated to suggest that VP Mphoko quit Zapu or was expelled there-from before or after our country’s heroic Independence in 1980. This is the factual position