E – A panicky and desperate, yet still wily, President Robert Mugabe has instructed his Politburo to scrap all the District Coordinating Committees – the grassroots structures in the country’s 10 provinces that were expected to have the final say over plans to postpone presidential elections to 2010.
Sources told The Zimbabwean that Mugabe had foisted the decision on his lieutenants during a heated Politburo meeting a fortnight ago, declaring he wanted the grassroots structures scrapped because he did not believe they could be trusted with such an important decision.
Zanu (PF) spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira confirmed there were discussions on the abolition of the DCCs.
A Politburo member from Mashonaland East province said Mugabe justified his move with a vague explanation that in the past the DCCs had been manipulated by faction leaders – in some instances bribed to endorse the candidature of unpopular nominees.
Authoritative ruling party sources said Mugabe was leaving nothing to chance, and was shaken to the core by the staunch refusal by the two “dissident provinces,” Harare and Mashonaland East, who make no secret of their opposition to Mugabe’s plan to cling to power beyond March 2008.
After failing to railroad the contentious plan to postpone presidential elections during the December Goromonzi Convention, the Zanu (PF) leadership referred the case back to the provinces, where the DCC was expected to ballot grassroots members on the initiative and then provide feedback to the Provincial Elections Directorate.
But Mugabe, facing a rising tide of rebellion in his fractured party, fears the initiative faces imminent death in the grassroots structures, where support for him is dwindling.
The Zimbabwean heard that when Mugabe announced to his decision in the Politburo meeting, some members shouted “Aah” – a rare show of defiance.
Sensing open rebellion, Mugabe warned ominously that “true members” would toe the party line unflinchingly. With that masterstroke, he silenced the Politburo, resulting in the resolution being unanimously adopted.
The next step will be to have the Central Committee, scheduled to meet on March 29, endorse the decision. Mugabe has insisted that the vote on the issue be by show of hands, rejecting suggestions of a secret ballot.
Sources said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa had already completed drafting the statutory instrument, which awaits gazetting once the ruling party okays the changes.
Political analysts sayd Mugabe could impose constitutional changes as early as March 2008 – making himself a ceremonial non-executive president and choosing a Prime Minister to lead a Zanu (PF) government. That could then pave the way for a government of national unity – including members from the opposition.
*Rebellious Politburo silenced
*2010 plan to go ahead
By Staff Reporter, Gift Phiri