Running-mates clause threatens Zanu (PF)

Zanu (PF) is not happy with the concept of presidential running mates in the new draft constitution because party bigwigs fear it would widen the fissures threatening to tear it apart.

Rugare Gumbo
Rugare Gumbo

According to Clause 5.5 (2) of the draft charter, a presidential candidate must nominate two candidates to stand as his running mates. A Zanu (PF) Central Committee member who cannot be named told The Zimbabwean that the party was determined to ensure the clause was removed.

“There will definitely be a stalemate over the constitution if (Morgan) Tsvangirai and Welshman (Ncube) do not agree to renegotiate parts of the draft, particularly the provision on running mates,” he said.

“It is difficult to follow the party hierarchy as it is. While VP (Vice President Joyce) Mujuru would easily be chosen as one of the running mates, there is a headache over the second one.

“The current party hierarchy would dictate that John Nkomo as the third in command would be the other mate. However, his health is deteriorating and he has indicated that he wants to rest. That would leave Simon Khaya Moyo (party National Chairman), but some are not happy with him because he is considered junior,” said the source.

Zanu (PF) would need to get a running mate from Matabeleland in keeping with the 1987 Unity Accord yet there are no other acceptable candidates.

“The real issue, though, is how to balance the factional interests in the party. There is need to placate Mnangagwa and VP (Vice President) Mujuru. The problem is that there is no formula that would make that possible,” said the source.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu (PF) Legal Affairs Secretary, heads a camp that has been bitterly fighting a turf war with Joyce Mujuru to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

It would be difficult for Mugabe to handpick Mnangagwa as the other mate because, as Didymus Mutasa, the party Secretary for Administration, has said in the past, the Defence Minister is way down on the party ladder.

“On the other hand, leaving out Mnangagwa is a sure way of handing Tsvangirai and the MDC an easy victory. Even though he lacks popular grassroots support, he commands strong backing in the party structures and the President knows how useful he can be to keep our party in power,’’ added the source.

The party is reportedly afraid that going to elections with either the Mujuru or Mnangagwa faction unhappy would seriously divide the party and lead to internal undermining of candidates, including Mugabe himself, as happened in the 2005 and 2008 elections.

This coule result in one of the camps breaking away, with the Mujuru camp, if angered, likely to form a loose alliance with Tsvangirai in keeping with the machinations of the late former army general, Solomon Mujuru.

MDC-T President, Morgan Tsvangirai, has already tasked his party’s structures to deliberate on who should be his running mates, a move observers say is a strategy to untangle himself from possible acrimony over the issue.

Zanu (PF) spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said in an interview the concept of running mates was alien not only to Zimbabwe, but Africa as well.

“We rejected the principle because it is alien. It is an American concept. We are used to having vice presidents appointed by the head of the party and we don’t need running mates,” Gumbo said.

He dismissed assertions that the party feared the issue of running mates would fuel factionalism, saying the divisions were a creation of the media, in an attempt to cause confusion ahead of elections.

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