New Zimbabwe (London)

23 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa to Challenge Mujuru?

Photo: Nehanda Radio
Vice President Joyce Mujuru and First Lady Grace Mugabe at their graduation (file photo).

JUSTICE Minister Emmerson Mnangangwa could challenge Joice Mujuru for the vice-presidency at the Zanu PF congress in December with Kembo Mohadi confirming he would also seek to become one of President Robert Mugabe's two deputies.

Following the 1987 Unity Accord, one of the vice-president posts has been reserved for the former PF Zapu and is expected to be filled at the December conference following the death in January last year of John Landa Nkomo.

National chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo, has all along been considered a shoe-in for the job but home affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi, told the Sunday Mail he would also contest the position.

"There is only one vacancy and that is the VP's post. I have offered myself for the post. I am not cheap and I am for the big race," Mohadi is quoted as saying.

"Who doesn't want power? We all want power; even if you were to be nominated or elected, would you refuse? I will be equally happy and I am ready for the game."

But the Mail claimed Mnangagwa would likely challenge Mujuru, in what could be a defining face-off in the pair's bitter and divisive fight to succeed Mugabe, who turned 90 this year.

In 2004, Mugabe bowed to pressure from the faction led by Mujuru's powerful late husband to give the vice-presidency to a woman, resulting in Joice side-lining Mnangagwa in a development the pro-Zanu PF ZBC described as "the Night of The Long Knives".

Since then, Mujuru has moved to strengthen her grip on party structures and, with that, her chances of taking over from Mugabe.

Last year, commentators declared her "leader-in-waiting" after her faction made a clean sweep of the party's provincial elections. She further consolidated her position this year by winning the key posts in the youth and women's leagues.

But the sands appeared to shift dramatically after Mugabe's wife, Grace, suddenly accepted an invitation - thought to have been initiated by the Mnangagwa faction - to take over as head of the women's league.

Again key members of Mujuru's faction such as Didymus Mutasa came under sharp public criticism from Mugabe over various issues including the failure to organise the women's and youth conferences as well as the perilous state of the party's finances.

Mugabe also condemned, as fraudulent, the elections which saw Mujuru's allies winning the key posts in the youth and women's leagues.

And driving the knife in, a Mnangagwa ally, Chris Mutsvangwa - who is deputy foreign affairs minister - revealed that Mujuru's celebrated shooting down of a Rhodesian helicopter during the liberation struggle was an elaborate hoax, adding that Mutasa was a rogue with no war record.

Although Mugabe will not be challenged at the December congress, Mujuru has not been given any such assurances with the veteran leader actually saying all politburo members must resign so that a new team is elected.

Party spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, confirmed that all the posts could be contested.

"This is an elective Congress and not (an annual) Conference," Gumbo told the Mail.

"All posts will be contested and as you have witnessed, the President's post has already started being subjected to that process with the Youth and Women's leagues endorsing his candidature. It remains for (provinces) to state their position at Congress.

"Usually there is no contest for the Presidency since the President has already been given a fresh mandate after winning the national elections last year. We would expect him to continue until the next Congress. So we hope he will be endorsed at the coming Congress. The endorsement is the way of electing him.

"But we expect provinces to select their choices for the two Vice Presidents' posts as well as that of National Chairman. As regards the talk that so-and-so wants to be Secretary for Administration, well that is a Politburo post and the President will nominate his choice together with other secretaries for various portfolios. Congress then endorses the President's choice."

Asked specifically about Mujuru's position, Gumbo said: "I really don't know where people are getting it (Vice President Mujuru automatically retaining her post) from. Let us not jump the gun. It is difficult to say the VP post held by Mai Mujuru will be up for grabs or not or to say it is not contested; I don't think so.

"I would imagine there would be acclamation, but like any other (post) you would expect contest. It is not a new thing in the party. Remember, we have had, in the past congresses, two or more nominations for a single post being put forward by the provinces."

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