28 October 2011

Zimbabwe: Litmus Test for President Mugabe

LEGISLATORS from ZANU-PF are revolting against the party's leadership by refusing to tow the party line on a number of issues shoved down their throats, including that of imminent elections, as internal fissures continue to widen in President Robert Mugabe political formation, The Financial Gazette can exclusively reveal.

While the current trend has its genesis in the 2008 synchronised elections when aspiring ZANU-PF Members of Parliament coined what they termed the "bhora mudondo" strategy that was meant to deny President Mugabe a sixth Presidential term, lawmaker activism among MPs from the revolutionary party has become widespread in the legislative assembly in recent weeks.

The defining moment was in March when some ZANU-PF MPs conspired to deny the party's candidate for the speakership their vote to tilt the scales in favour of Lovemore Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T).

This followed the nullification of Moyo's first appointment as Speaker of Parliament by the Supreme Court on grounds that the secret ballot had not been followed.

Since the shock re-election of Moyo about seven months ago, ZANU-PF lawmakers have been emerging out of their shells to show open defiance against the top-to-bottom approach favoured by their leadership in running the party's affairs.

Party insiders told The Financial Gazette this week that the legislators feared their leadership was going against the wishes of the people on a number of issues, which could spell doom for the revolutionary party.

The majority of the party's legislators were said to be in favour of delayed national elections to give ZANU-PF enough time to recover the ground lost to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party in the 2008 harmonised elections.

This is unlike President Mugabe who is agitating for polls by March 2012 which have the effect of cutting short the MPs' tenure of office by about one year.

According to ZANU-PF insiders, the bulk of the MPs are also hesitant that the current political climate pointed to a Tsvangirai victory unless the party mounted a strong resistance against democratic reforms being backed by regional leaders.

To show their contempt for the party's leadership, the aggrieved lawmakers are supporting party programmes by day and criticising them at night. The courageous ones have opted for open warfare damn the consequences.

In recent weeks, a number of ZANU-PF legislators have spoken at variance with party positions, the latest being on Tuesday when Uzumba lawmaker, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, said Shabanie-Mashava Mines legally belongs to businessman, Mutumwa Mawere.

The ownership of the seized mine is currently before the courts, with President Mugabe having transferred the running of the mine to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, ignoring calls to hand the entity back to Mawere.

Early this month, the party suspended Guruve North MP, Edward Chindori-Chininga from the constitution-making exercise after he clashed with Paul Mangwana, who co-chairs the Constitution Parliamentary Committee.

ZANU-PF recently fired former Marondera East legislator, Tracy Mutinhiri, for allegedly bringing the name of the party into disrepute after she was accused of hobnobbing with officials from the MDC-T.

Now ZANU-PF members of the bicameral Parliament have hatched a plan to support moves to nullify empowerment regulations crafted by Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, which the party is set to ride on during its election campaign.

There are concerns among legislators that the black economic empowerment law could be hijacked to benefit the elite within the party at the expense of ordinary people.

So serious is discontent among ZANU-PF legislators that the lawmakers are also planning to block the forthcoming National Budget should government take long to pay their outstanding allowances, which date back to 2009 as well as procure them new vehicles.

There was a similar bid last year to torpedo the National Budget when it came to Parliament for approval.

In terms of the Parliamentary Members Allowances and Privileges Act, the power to set allowances for lawmakers is vested in the President.

According to whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, there are ZANU-PF MPs who have gone to bed with the MDC-T.

ZANU-PF Chivi South lawmaker, Ivene Dzingirai, was quoted by the leaked diplomatic cables as having said he was part of a circle of moderate party legislators "who saw things as they were" and would not just support everything proposed by ZANU-PF in Parliament.

He also allegedly named his colleagues in the party he said were in this circle.

"He said that other ZANU-PF MPs who shared his moderate outlook included Kudakwashe Bhasikiti of Mwenezi East, Walter Mzembi of Masvingo South, and Makhosini Hlongwane of Mberengwa East. Dzingirayi told us that he believed power should be shared 50/50 in the government and that he actually had closer ties to the MDC side of Parliament than to the ZANU-PF side," reads part of the cable.

"While claiming the younger ZANU-PF MPs were better able to work with the MDC and were pushing for reform, Dzingirayi explained that his ties to the MDC were well-known and had made him a target of some hardline elements in his own party. He mentioned that he had been falsely named in a February 6 article in the State-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, alleging that he had abused free agricultural inputs he received from the State."

Yesterday, ZANU-PF chief whip, Joram Gumbo, said some of the issues expressed by their MPs had not been raised in the party's caucus.

"On empowerment, individuals are free to say what they want, but it is something coming from the executive and there is nothing wrong with it because it will benefit everyone whether ZANU-PF or MDC," said Gumbo.

He added that the issue of allowances would be discussed in Parliament after receiving responses to submissions made to the principals.

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