HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted ambitions to succeed President Robert Mugabe may have suffered a fatal blow yesterday after the post-congress Zanu PF’s politburo appeared to embrace growing calls for a return of the women’s quota system in the warring ruling party.
Addressing the media soon after the politburo’s meeting in Harare, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the various resolutions that had been made by provinces, including on this contentious issue, were set to be tabled at the party’s annual conference that is being held in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
A well-placed source told the Daily News last night that there was now broad, albeit “tactically conflictual agreement” among the party’s various factions on the need to re-introduce the women’s quota system — a development that is destined to spark a battle of titanic proportions in the coming days.
Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks, who are commonly referred to as the Generation 40, and who are said to be backing First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her increasingly-frail husband and not Mnangagwa, have been at the forefront of the demand that at least one of the two party vice presidents should be a woman — a move insiders say is designed to block the Midlands godfather’s alleged presidential aspirations.
“Inter-district conferences have been held in all provinces, coming up of course with their various resolutions which will be presented to the (Victoria Falls) conference,” Khaya Moyo told the media after yesterday’s politburo meeting.
And with the majority in the party now appearing to be demanding a return of the women’s quota system which was expediently discarded late last year as former Vice President Joice Mujuru was being hounded out of the party on untested allegations of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s days in the presidium may be numbered.
But the insider who spoke to the Daily News last night said Mnangagwa’s supporters were plotting to turn the tables on their party enemies who were agitating for the return of this affirmative action dictate by agreeing to its re-introduction — as long as this would benefit former PF Zapu cadres.
Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, Cornelius Muwoni, appeared to confirm this when he spoke to the Daily News last night, saying his organisation was not opposed to a woman vice president being appointed to be one of Mugabe’s deputies, although he said they would want that this be done on a rotational basis to accommodate former Zapu cadres.
“As war veterans, we support equality between men and women, so we have no problems with a woman from the party being one of the vice presidents.
“We would however, want that to be done on a rotational basis to also include Zapu, seeing that when it was first introduced it benefitted a Zanu cadre in Joice Mujuru. So, it only makes sense that this time, should it be returned, it should also benefit the other side,” Muwoni said.
This thinking was shared by former Zipra cadre Zenzo Ncube, a member of ZNLWVA’s council of elders, who argued that if war veterans had allowed a takeover of the leadership of the association by Christopher Mutsvangwa from the executive led by former Zapu cadre Jabulani Sibanda, it was only fair that this arrangement be followed for the party’s vice presidency.
“We are currently discussing the issue as former Zapu cadres. We want to come up with a preferred candidate for the position should it (the proposal) sail through,” Ncube said.
The move by Team Lacoste, as the Mnangagwa camp calls itself, is designed to ensure that they neutralise Grace, the G4O and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko — thus keeping Mnangagwa as one of the party’s two deputies, and therefore well-positioned to succeed Mugabe.
Further to this, Team Lacoste is said to be pushing Mugabe to make changes to the party’s leadership, with war veterans in particular calling for the ouster of national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere — arguing that he is supposedly divisive, in addition to lacking liberation struggle credentials.
In addition, the restive war veterans also want their own to monopolise the posts for lands and security in the politburo.
On the other hand, the G40 want War veterans minister Mutsvangwa axed from his post as war veterans chairperson and be replaced by Patrick Nyaruwata.
However, Khaya Moyo emphasised after yesterday’s politburo meeting that the buck on all pending matters stopped with Mugabe.
“I want to emphasise that this is not an elective conference, it’s only the congress which is elective. So, we must not spread rumours. You are aware that his Excellency the president is the only one after the amendment of the constitution last December who is elected … all of us we are appointees and he can appoint at his leisure.
“So, we must not mix up the purpose of this conference,” the Zanu PF information tsar said.
The move to return the party quota system comes after it was discarded late last year, at the height of the post-congress Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars.
And with Mnangagwa embroiled in the bitter fight to succeed Mugabe with the G40, this is raising growing fears among his supporters that the Midlands godfather may go down in the same manner that Mujuru was deposed from power last year. This means that this week’s annual conference could prove to be one of the most important and significant periods in the long political life of Mnangagwa as the war to succeed Mugabe gets hotter and nastier by the day.
Sources also claim that all of Zanu PF’s provinces, except for Masvingo and Midlands, are pushing for Grace to become vice president as was recently and exclusively revealed by the Daily News.