As Fighting For Legitimacy In Zanu (PF) Rages,Will Buffalo Sink Croc?

By Prince Tongogara   

When the Zanu PF political earthquake at the December Congress seemed to have all but ended deposed secretary of administration Didymus Mutasa came out fighting and challenging the legality of the processes leading up to the choreographed congress squarely putting President Robert Mugabe into a corner to fight his legitimacy to head the party.

The Monday statement coincides with Mugabe,whose clan totem is crocodile, expected return to the country from his annual holiday and casts a shadow on his assumption of the Africa Union chairmanship.

Mutasa of buffalo clan totem, in his frontal attack questions Mugabe’s leadership qualities and failure to uphold the party’s constitution that was flouted left, right and centre at the congress while then president remained mute. 

The congress now dubbed ‘praise and worship’ session witnessed the purging of perceived ambitious leaders like vice-president Joice Mujuru, nine provincial chairmen aligned to her and several provincial committee members assumed to have been backing leadership renewal in the party.

Mutasa said Mugabe failed to uphold the party’s constitution, a cardinal sin for any leader who swears to uphold the same, during the extra-legal sacking of chairmen and senior members without following the party’s constitutional procedures. 

More importantly, Mutasa in his statement avers that Mugabe remained indifferent when his wife, Grace, breached the party constitution during her nationwide campaigns against Mujuru, disguised as Thank You Rallies.

And finally Mutasa accuses Mugabe of presiding over an illegal congress that endorsed constitutional amendments that were brought to the said congress unprocedurally.The amendments concentrated power in Mugabe’s hands giving him unfettered powers to appoint his deputies, party chairman, secretary of administration and all the politburo members.

Mutasa said the amendments were done in breach of Article 30 read together with section 253 of the Zanu PF constitution which specifies the process of making constitutional amendments and minimum times permissible at each stage.

Legal analysts like Kent University based Alex Magaisa have come out openly that Mutasa’s allegations were sound at law to be entertained by the courts. What this means in simple terms is the congress and all activities and actions taken by it are in danger of being nullified if the courts rule  the congress was held unconstitutionally.

Curiously, no Zanu PF leader to date has tried to rebut the substance of Mutasa’s allegations except to portray him as a factional leader who sought to dispose Mugabe of his position at the congress.Information minister Jonathan Moyo said if people believed Mutasa’s narrative then they may as well believe that the trouble-shooting Prof is the Pope!

If Mutasa petitions the High Court as he threatens and succeeds, Mugabe –a lawyer by training – will have lost both the legal and moral legitimacy as a leader who presided over an illegal party congress by failing to uphold the constitution.

Such a scenario will reaffirm the growing reputation that Mugabe had become the law in the party and the constitution was not worth the paper it was written on.

It will also not be first time Mugabe will have lost an electoral petition in the courts. He lost to Margaret Dongo in 1995 in an electoral petition over the flawed Harare South constituency poll then.

Mutasa’s background as a Mugabe close ally, politburo member, former security minister, former speaker of parliament and secretary of administration locates him at the centre power for the greater part of Mugabe’s uninterrupted 35 years rule in Zimbabwe.

Even Mugabe’s private legal counsel Terrence Hussein told the Herald that Mutasa’s liberation credentials were impeccable. This makes him a rare but believable person to raise the allegations.

The wily Mutasa has strategically defined the parameters of the dispute by confining it to the legal and constitutional procedures. He went on to proscribe how Mugabe should react by preempting him from using violence or threats in the dispute. In his statement he exposed Mugabe’s inclination to using brute force every time he is challenged’.

Zimbabweans, Sadc and AU are waiting with bated breathe to see how Mugabe will react to this challenge. Will he concede that the congress was unprocedural and therefore restart the process? Will he stick to his guns and damn the consequences like having his tenure mired in legality issues?

Whichever way Mugabe decides Zanu PF in particular and Zimbabwe’s politics in general will never be the same again. Seismic shifts in allegiances and new alliances and pockets contesting for power will continue to consolidate their position making Mugabe’s succession murky and uncertain.