Zanu-PF secretary for information Rugare Gumbo and Legal Affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa have clashed over the voting system to be used at the ruling party’s watershed December Congress to elect its Presidium, NewsDay reported.
The move has further opened the chasm between politburo members aligned to underfire Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Mnangagwa as the succession of President Robert Mugabe hots up ahead of the elective congress.
Mnangagwa recently told the Press that members of the Presidium will be chosen by secret ballot at the congress.
But Gumbo in an interview with NewsDay, rubbished Mnangagwa saying the structure of the Presidium would be shaped by nominations from the provinces.
“The correct position is provinces submit nominations and if a candidate garners more than six nominations, that candidate automatically becomes part of the presidium,” Gumbo said.
“The only time we used the secret ballot system was at our inaugural congress in 1963 and since then we have been using provincial nomination system in accordance with provisions of the party’s constitution.”
Gumbo insisted that Zanu-PF had not made any constitutional amendments to cater for a secret ballot election at congress.
The current Zanu-PF presidium comprises of Mugabe, Mujuru and national chairman Simon Khaya. Secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa is head of the party secretariat. Mugabe has since been endorsed by all provinces while nominations for the vice-presidents and national chairman could soon start amid intense jostling ahead of the December congress.
The congress also approves the appointment of Central Committee members and department heads and their deputies.
Gumbo said Section 32 (1) of the Zanu-PF constitution stipulated that members of the presidium “shall be elected by congress directly upon nomination by at least six provincial co-ordinating committees of the party, meeting separately in special session called for that purpose.”
In the event that no single candidate garners six or more nominations the process would be repeated with the candidates who garnered the highest votes being resubjected to a fresh nomination until one candidate gets the required six nominations.
Mnangagwa was last month quoted as saying the party constitution provided for one-man-one–vote system and would be amended by his legal committee to create room for a secret vote for members of the presidium.
“That is what the [party] constitution says. If you read the constitution, it says delegates at the congress will vote through the one-man-one vote (system). That is what the party has been doing since 1963,” Mnangagwa, who is also Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, said.
Analysts who requested anonymity described Mnangagwa’s reading of the constitution as wrong. They said the proposed constitutional amendments could be part of a bigger plot to rig out Mujuru from her position and consequently out of the Zanu-PF succession matrix.
The analysts added First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into the political arena with the contrived aid of outgoing Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri added weight to speculative reports that she wanted to thwart Mujuru’s ascendancy.
Ironically, Muchinguri who is now superintending Grace’s campaign unsuccessfully challenged Mujuru for the vice-presidency at the 2009 congress.
Muchinguri who has not publicly stated her next move was strongly suspected of harbouring the ambition to once again challenge Mujuru.
Interestingly, some Zanu-PF heavyweights were now calling for the President to appoint his two deputies and the national chairman as a way to stem factionalism associated with campaigning for key positions.
The race for the second vice-president has become murky after three other candidates, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, ex-Zapu commander and minister Ambrose Mutinhiri and former Ambassador and Zanu-PF commander Phelekezela Mphoko, declared interest to challenge Khaya Moyo who until recently looked like an easy shoe-in.
Meanwhile, Mutasa has already been nominated by his Manicaland province to contest for the chairmanship.