By Sij Ncube
HARARE, July 8, 2015 – ACTING President Phelekezela Mphoko is technically solely in charge of the republic in the absence of President Robert Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who constitute the presidium but critics say he is a lame duck riding on a power bubble.
Mugabe and Mnangagwa are both out of the country on government business.
Mugabe left for New York, the United State of America on Tuesday night where has been invited to attend an international Ebola Recovery Conference, accompanied by his wife Grace, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba and senior government officials while Mnagangwa is on a five-day state visit to the Democratic Republic of China.
Before his departure Mugabe installed Mphoko acting president amid reports of a rift between his two deputies over seniority in government.
Mphoko has been itching to prove to all and sundry that he wields real power and is not junior to Mnangagwa who rightly or wrongly has been taunted as Mugabe’s her apparent. It would seem his chance to flex his muscle has come.
But critics say with Grace as part of Mugabe’s delegation, Mphoko would have no one to consult and take notes on national issues after the First Lady told the nation the two vice presidents consulted her on several matters.
While Mphoko,still seeking relevance,is on paper in the driving seat of the country and has every right to brag about it, analysts point out it is a rare occasion for both Mugabe and one of his deputies to be out of the country since independence and leave a former PF Zapu solely in charge of the nation.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesperson, said while the absence of both Mugabe and Mnangagwa could be a coincidence, in the Zimbabwean context, an Acting President is just a lame duck.
“He/she has got absolutely no executive authority. For example, an Acting President, according to Robert Mugabe’s book of rules, cannot chair a Cabinet meeting or make any executive decisions,” said Gutu.
“He/she is merely a place holder ; a ceremonial figure who, at best, can only receive envoys on behalf of the President or attend gatherings and functions where he/she is expected to read the President’s speech.”He is not likely to convene and chair a Zanu (PF) politburo meeting.
Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for MDC Renewal Team, said Mphoko is at best a ceremonial acting president whose influence on government policy and actions is next zero in Mugabe’s latest sojourn to the West.
“He (Mphoko) is another free loader who should know in a dictatorship that when he is in an acting position he is not in charge of anything even himself let alone the country,” said Mafume.
Political analyst, Masimba Nyamanindi, concurred Mphoko is riding on a power bubble.
“He (Mphoko) will not have power to do anything drastic, practically, even if away, Mugabe remains in charge, and I am sure decisions will still me made by Mugabe. Mphoko will still have to consult the dear leader for any decisions he might want to take,” he said.