Enter Hurricane Grace:The End Of Protocol And Procedure

By Prince Tongogara

It is not every day that you get a picture that speaks more than what is happening at the moment but paints the scheme of things going into the future. Grace Mugabe came to the Zanu PF banquet – politburo – and her chair was at the high table signifying her new status as part of the revered presidium.

Grace inaugural attendance to the party’s supreme body in practice since her choreographed ascension at the December congress has redrawn the boundaries of power, etiquette and procedure in the party whose ethos were always tied to protocol.

Politburo members and members were shocked to see the new sitting arrangement, Grace sandwiched between President Robert Mugabe and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko at the head of the boardroom table. All protocol was breached by this one act where despite her lowly sub ten position in the politburo she managed to have a sit among the presidium ahead of the secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo and secretary for finance Obert Mpofu.

Proximity in politics means a lot. Her sitting among the presidium made it plain to all that she is not only close to the centre of power but is now part of it in Zanu PF.

The sitting arrangement could also have a lot to say about the politburo’s deliberations and resolutions that fly in the face of natural justice and procedure.

It came out with resolutions that showed the party’s continued trajectory as a party that does not care a hoot about procedures and regulations when the summary expulsion of Didymus Mutasa and his nephew Themba Mliswa was announced without a hearing.

This decision was carried out despite the party last month telling the nation that it had set a committee to arbitrate on the disciplinary case of Mutasa in particular. The decision flies in the face of natural justice principles namely audi alteram partem rule (a person must be given the right to be heard before an adverse decision is taken) and the nemo judex principle (a person must not be judge in his or her own cause).

It is remarkable that the politburo set twice after its reconfiguration post the December congress and interestingly on both occasions showed pretence to be going back to legality and procedure  by setting up a disciplinary committee to deal with all disputes in the party and in particular the Mutasa case.

Curiously, even before the committee met it came up with a decision – Mutasa must be summarily be expelled like Jabulani Sibanda and Rugare Gumbo without being afforded a hearing. That the decision was only taken after Grace attended her first politburo meeting says a lot.

It remains to be seen now whether Mutasa would finally carry out his threat to drag the party to the courts for breaching its own rules will materialise. Could his summary expulsion spur him into action? Or he will let his combative nephew Mliswa be the sacrificial lamb to test the seemingly might Hurricane Grace and party in the courts?

Whichever way the matter will play out, Zanu PF with Grace at the helm has no respect for procedure and dispensing justice even among its long standing senior members. This should alarm the nation if as widely expected she joins her husband’s cabinet Zimbabwe will become ‘a broken nation led by a broken man’ to quote Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.