Thursday, 05 April 2012 10:17
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is battling to thwart an internal Zanu PF plot
playing out within Copac, which also involves the other two parties, MDC-T
and MDC-N, designed to deliver a “technical knock-out blow” against him by a
joint force drawn from a cross-section of rivals straddling the three main
Mugabe, who recently survived efforts to knock him out of the next
presidential election through term and age limits, is now cracking down on
Copac and those behind the plot to oust him in a bid to halt them in their
tracks. Copac officials are now under pressure to fast-track the
constitution-making process and deliver a draft before it is given to the
management committee and then principals. It will also go back to the
parties for final approval. The draft would then be taken to an
all-stakeholders’ conference, parliament, referendum and parliament again
However, sources say the danger is that Mugabe and his party could block the
draft at any one of these stages unless they get a constitution they want.
Sources said Mugabe fears that there is a group linked to the Emmerson
Mnangagwa faction and which includes Zanu PF Copac co-chair Paul Mangwana
pulling out all the stops to delay the process and elections deep into next
year, thus knocking him out on age and health grounds. It is now generally
accepted in Zanu PF that if elections were to be held next year,
particularly during the last quarter, it would not feasible or practically
possible to field Mugabe as a winning candidate.
Sensing danger, Mugabe has awakened up the reality that his own party
members want him to go and is fiercely hitting back, throwing a monkey
wrench in their works.
Mugabe showed he was not aware of the plot and raised the political stakes
during last week’s Zanu PF politburo meeting where he demanded
a speedy conclusion to the constitution-making process. He went to the
extent of re-activating his team which includes Zanu PF negotiators Patrick
Chinamsa and Nichoals Goche and secretary for legal affairs, Mnangagwa, and
other members of the technical committee to bring finality to the
Politburo insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week Mugabe put his
foot down at the meeting after Mangwana told the politburo Copac was still
deadlocked and needed time resolve the “parked” issues by consensus.
Insiders said Mangwana’s indicated the process would take even longer than
was previously anticipated.
Politburo members said Mugabe saw this as a deliberate ploy by a certain
section in Zanu PF, aligned to both factions led by Vice-President Joice
Mujuru and Mnangagwa, who want to use the constitution-making process to
delay elections to next year and eliminate him from the race.
Mugabe (88) and his close allies drawn from the politburo and the Joint
Military Command (JOC) want elections as soon as possible but mainly this
year without fail, with or without a new constitution.
Mugabe told the Central Committee meeting last week Zimbabwe would go for a
referendum in May, failure of which it would revert to the Lancaster House
Constitution and hold elections before the end of the year.
“Let’s conclude the process, whether we agree or disagree. The dance we have
had for the past four years is over. Let us have an election and end this
animal called inclusive government,” Mugabe said adding that “their days are
numbered and one should expect that by May we have a referendum that should
give us the way forward”.
He also charged: “I am told that there are some among us who do not want
elections this year. If they are there, they must go and join the MDC).”
Party insiders said Mugabe made it very clear at the politburo meeting that
he would not tolerate any further delays in the constitution-making process.
“By stalling the constitution-making process and thereby delaying the
elections, they want to give Mugabe a technical knockout blow. They want to
delay elections until next year so that it becomes unworkable for Mugabe to
stand as the party candidate,” a senior politburo member said.
“The Mnangagwa faction is mainly behind this. They are trying to use the
constitution-making process to force debate on the succession issue.
President Mugabe has now seen through their plan and is now fighting them
Copac was given until yesterday to hand over the report of the co-chairs on
the draft constitution to the management committee, made up of the three
negotiating teams. The team of negotiators – Goche and Chinamasa, Tendai
Biti and Mangoma from MDC-T and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses
Mzila-Ndlovu of MDC-N – were given 14 days to conclude the process and hand
over the final draft to the three party principals.
They met yesterday and made little progress on the major contentious. The
three parties have failed to agree on the structure of government,
devolution of power and dual citizenship. Zanu PF last resolved last week at
its politburo meeting not to move an inch, especially on devolution. The MDC
parties have also vowed not to compromise, leaving Copac facing collapse, a
situation which suits Mugabe.
A member of the management committee told the Independent soon after their
meeting: “There has been no movement on the key issues. No one is
compromising on devolution of power and dual citizenship. Our next meeting
is next week on Tuesday,” he said.
Zanu PF has set up a team which includes Chinamasa, Goche, Mnangagwa and a
five-member technical team to handle the constitution-making process.
Members of the technical team include senior politburo member Jonathan Moyo,
former Matabeleland North MP and chair Jacob Mudenda, Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe (BAZ) chairperson Tafataona Mahoso, Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa and author Alexander Kanengoni.
The team will prepare a draft and highlight disputed issue before handing it
over to the principals. Mugabe is said to have now taken the Copac process
by the scruff of the neck to prevent being pushed out.