New requirements may prove to be an unassailable hurdle for Vice-President Joice Mujuru's opponents.
The rules and regulations announced by Zanu-PF last week that, among other things, will result in members who have not served the party for 15 consecutive years being barred from contesting central committee and women’s league positions, have all but elbowed out former ambassador to South Africa Phelekezela Mphoko from landing the vice-presidency.
They also limit Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s chances of getting into the politburo.
The regulations are also widely seen as having aided Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s presidential ambitions while undermining the faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mphoko and Zanu-PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo have been campaigning for the second vice-president’s position that is a preserve of ex-Zapu officials, according to the 1987 Unity Accord that brought Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu together.
Mphoko, a former Zipra commander, has been arguing he deserves the position as he is more senior than Khaya Moyo, who was the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s aide. He has approached President Robert Mugabe, war veterans and former Zapu officials to seek support.
But Mphoko has no history in Zanu-PF structures, having spent years in diplomatic circles, and does not meet the 15-year requirement, leaving Khaya Moyo, who enjoys Mujuru’s support, a firm favourite to land the position.
Zanu-PF insiders say the requirements were grudgingly announced by Mnangagwa, the party’s secretary for legal affairs, last Friday – after being endorsed at Wednesday’s politburo meeting. The measures have apparently also left party youths fuming, in the belief that the old horses in Zanu-PF have in effect closed the door on ambitious younger members who were hoping to gain entry into the central committee.
Senior Zanu-PF officials noted that Mnangangwa’s supporters who were suspended from the party in 2004, among them Moyo, speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda and one of his henchmen July Moyo, also cannot make it into the central committee.
The central committee is the “principal organ of congress” and acts on behalf of congress when it is not in session.
According to the Zanu-PF constitution, the central committee has unfettered plenary powers to “make rules, regulations and procedures to govern the conduct of the party and its members; implement all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions and programmes enunciated by congress; give directions as well as supervise and superintend all the functions of the central government in relation to the programmes as enunciated by congress”.
It is also responsible for setting up party organs, committees, institutions, commissions and enterprises in the name and on behalf of the party and can convene congress in ordinary and extraordinary session, as well as formulate the agenda, procedures and regulations for the business of congress. The central committee can also amend the party’s constitution.
A Zanu-PF politburo member said: “Like all other matters in Zanu-PF, the rules were made with the succession issue in mind. It is clear that the national elections directorate, which is pro-Mujuru, tried as much as possible to weaken Mnangagwa, hence the requirement for one to have served for 15 years without a break. The elections directorate had actually recommended 20 years but after resistance from some politburo members the period was shortened to 15 years, which many believe are still too much.
“It also means that party members who were suspended in 2004 over the Tsholotsho declaration can therefore not make it into the central committee and politburo and these include Moyo, who is believed to have been the organiser of the meeting. He has fallen out of favour with the president.
“The regulations have also unfortunately been very unfriendly to the youths as it means most will struggle to get onto the central committee. By extension this means they will not play an important role in influencing the direction of the party.”
The Zanu-PF national elections directorate is chaired by Khaya Moyo and consists of national political commissar Webster Shamu and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, who are all members of the Mujuru faction.
Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who is also reportedly in the Mujuru faction, however, justified the regulations and insisted they were not directed at anyone. He confirmed that the rules mean that officials who were expelled from the party and did not serve for 15 consecutive years were ineligible.
Gumbo said youths had no reason to complain as they are expected to be patient and rise through the ranks.
“They have the youth league; why are they worried about the central committee? After five years they will move on to the central committee, so there is no need for the complaints,” said Gumbo.
“Actually, the complaints are coming from people who do not know Zanu-PF and how the party developed. Fifteen years is very fair. Some people actually wanted 20 years. I don’t understand what the rush is. It is important to be patient and wait for your time.”
Yet officials such as Moyo may still make it into the politburo as they would now rely on Mugabe’s benevolence to allow them into the central committee and politburo.
The Zanu-PF constitution empowers Mugabe to nominate 10 party members into the central committee “on account of their outstanding contribution to either the armed liberation struggle of the country and/or its development after independence”.
Many officials are curious to see whether Moyo will be appointed by Mugabe after he recently called him a weevil, a fool and the devil incarnate, following allegations the former political science lecturer wanted to destroy the party from within.
The regulations mean that former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, who is likely to become more active in politics, will not make it onto the central committee and the politburo.
“He will also have to rely on the president if he is to make it,” said the politburo member.
The new rules were announced ahead of the party’s youth and women’s league congresses to be held in Harare from August 7 to 10 and from August 20 to 23 respectively.
To hold any position in the national women’s league, candidates must have a 15-year unbroken record of service to the party.
Additionally, the new rules also say, of the 15 years required of aspiring candidates, five years should have been spent serving in the party’s provincial executive. Candidates must not have been subject to criminal conviction or insolvency and nor should they have been found guilty and convicted by the party’s disciplinary proceedings during the past five years.
New rules also stipulate that youths who want to succeed in the national youth league must not be older than 35. They should also have served in the national executive of the youth league and have five years of service in its provincial executive.“The regulations have also unfortunately been very unfriendly to the youths as it means most will struggle to get onto the central committee”