Mugabe’s secret strategy

December 5, 2005 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 2 December

Mugabe’s secret strategy

Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s succession plans are beginning to take shape with the installation of loyalists at the helm of the controversial Senate. The Senate elections were held last week. The swearing in, as president of the new upper chamber, of Edna Madzongwe, a close ally of Joyce Mujuru, is part of Mugabe’s scheme to ensure his preferred candidate assumes the presidency when he vacates the post. Another yes-man from the Matabeleland province, Naison Ndlovu, was appointed Madzongwe’s deputy. The 81-year-old leader has indicated that he wants to retire and write his memoirs when his current term of office expires in 2008. Sources in the ruling Zanu PF party’s information department told the Mail & Guardian they intend to “move with speed to craft new [constitutional] amendments that will allow the Senate and Parliament to elect Vice-President Mujuru” to the country’s top job.

At the height of the debate about legislative changes to create the Senate, the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, told journalists that he was drafting further amendments that would streamline elections. It is understood that the proposed changes would be placed before both chambers of Parliament early next year. “That decision has already been made by Zanu PF. Chinamasa has repeatedly said it in my discussions with him. The question is are we going to have Mugabe until 2010 or an interim president between 2008 and 2010?” opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general Welshman Ncube told the M&G. Mugabe won the last presidential election, in 2002, which was widely condemned by observers as rigged. Constitutional law expert and chief civil society campaigner for a new Constitution, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, said: “They [Zanu PF] are trying as much as possible to avoid a direct [presidential] election in 2008. We are likely to have presidential and parliamentary elections running simultaneously in 2010,” he speculated.

In a move interpreted as further evidence of Mugabe’s determination to isolate opposition to Mujuru within the party, the Senate benches were packed with his cronies. “Mugabe wants to distribute the cake of power to as many people as possible so that he can pacify as many people as possible. Those that don’t see any value in electing Mujuru will feel important by virtue of being made senators. They will sing along with Mugabe,” Madhuku said. This leaves Mugabe’s erstwhile protégé, Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, out in the cold. His only hope of turning the tables would be the Zanu PF congress in 2009. But Mugabe is leaving nothing to chance. To further fortify his exit strategy he has elevated Kumbirai Kangai to deputy speaker of Parliament. Kangai is said to have no factional allegiances. During campaigning in the Masvingo province, where former provincial governor Josiah Hungwe’s faction was backing independents in the Senate poll, the Zanu PF top brass admonished supporters of Mnangagwa’s failed bid for the presidency. The Zanu PF won 43 of the 50 elected seats in the new upper chamber. Mugabe will appoint an additional six senators, and chiefs loyal to the ruling party will nominate a further 10. Independent poll observers estimate turnout in the poll was between 15% and 20%.

Meanwhile, Irin News Service reports that the two MDC factions could engage in a war of attrition over the ownership of the party’s name and assets. The MDC’s pro-Senate faction announced that vice-president Gibson Sibanda had suspended president Morgan Tsvangirai after a disciplinary committee allegedly found him guilty of violating the party’s constitution by calling for a boycott of the Senate poll. But Tsvangirai slammed the move as unconstitutional, insisting that only the party’s congress, slated for February, had the power to suspend him. The matter could end up in the courts. There is a perception among political observers that the judges, some of whom are sympathetic to the ruling party, would grant the use of the party’s name and emblem to the less popular pro-Senate faction to further destabilise the opposition. The MDC won a paltry seven seats in the contentious Senate. Except for Bulawayo, where pro-Senate faction candidates swept all the seats, other MDC strongholds, such as Harare, and Matabeleland North and South provinces, heeded Tsvangirai’s boycott call.

Madzongwe, a brief history

Edna Madzongwe swapped her deputy speaker of Parliament seat, a post she has held since 1995, for the Senate presidency. She served two years as deputy minister of education from 1993. Before that she was an MP for Mhondoro in Mashonaland West. Her mother is from the Samkange family, regarded as part of Zimbabwe’s “struggle aristocracy” because of their prominence in nationalist politics in the 1950s and 1960s. The 62 year old is from a clan that shares the Gushungo totem with President Robert Mugabe.

Entry filed under: Future, Present.

The rise to power … Zanu PF faction moves to ring-fence Mugabe in succession war – From Zim Online (SA), 5 January

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