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    Special congress could see Mugabe shoot himself in the foot

    Harare – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could set himself a trap if he accedes to calls by a faction of Zanu PF to turn the party’s December people’s conference into an extraordinary elective congress, political analysts have said.

    This followed reports that the Wednesday Zanu PF politburo meeting discussed the need to hold a special congress to decisively deal with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s succession bid.

    NewsDay Weekender reports that party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere proposed that Zanu PF should turn its December conference into an elective congress.

    Zanu PF has two distinct factions, the G40 faction believed to be led by First Lady Grace Mugabe and has Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo as its kingpins, while Team Lacoste is reportedly sympathetic to Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed Mugabe.

    Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza, however, said given the Zanu PF constitutional provisions, Mugabe did not need an extraordinary congress to deal with his deputy.

    He said, instead, the extraordinary congress could end up electing Mugabe’s successor.

    “It can only be used to anoint a successor, possibly it’s the reason why it’s being called, I haven’t seen the details yet,” Mandaza said.

    “Mugabe has insisted several times that he cannot anoint a successor. He has to be elected and, therefore, my own conclusion is that if a special congress is called it can only be an elective one.”

    “Grace wants the issue of succession dealt with in a manner that protects her vast Mazowe investments post the Mugabe era. She wants the special congress to ensure a person who will protect her interests and those of her children after Mugabe,” a Zanu PF source said.

    Section 26(2) of Zanu PF constitution provides for an extraordinary congress only if there is a vacancy in the office of national President or when a successor is to be chosen.

    Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo noted that Mugabe did not need a special congress to deal with any of his politburo members.

    “Politburo members are not elected, they are appointed by the President. So why would the party need a special congress to deal with members of the politburo?” he said.

    However, Khaya Moyo said he was not aware of any plans by Zanu PF to turn the people’s conference into an elective extraordinary congress.

    Highly-placed sources within the party said Mugabe could be falling into a trap if he was to accede to the calls for an extraordinary congress as a way to deal with his deputy.

    “He has one centre of power, which means he is the appointing authority of all his politburo members,” another source said.

    “He, therefore, does not need a special congress to deal with Mnangagwa; more critically, special congress can only be called to deal with the post of the President and nobody else.”

    United Kingdom-based law expert and political analyst Alex Magaisa said legally, Mugabe does not need a congress to oust Mnangagwa.

    “But politically, if he wants to get rid of him, he would want it to appear like the decision is made by the party, not himself personally,” Magaisa said.

    “I think Mugabe prefers to keep Mnangagwa consistent with the old principle that you keep your enemy closest, especially when you believe he could be dangerous if he were outside. Mnangagwa will think it’s because he’s untouchable, but really it’s because Mugabe wants to keep him close.”

    Analyst Alexander Rusero also described Mugabe as a wily fox who has never made a political mistake since 1974 and could have some tricks in his bag if he were to allow the special congress to happen.

    “He has a million tricks and you can’t put it past him that he is behind the special congress although he does not need it to deal with Mnangagwa. Taking Mnangagwa to an extraordinary congress could confirm that Mugabe is afraid of dealing with his deputy and I am sure he does not like that,” he said.

    Rusero, however, said no matter what happens, Mugabe would come out the biggest winner in December, with more powers consolidated around him.

    He said it was too late into the election season for Mugabe to cut loose his deputy because this could have grave consequences to the elections.

    Mugabe has already been endorsed as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate and would not need a special congress to represent the party at next year’s elections.

    Zanu PF needs five provinces to be able to call for an extraordinary congress, which will only dispense with agenda items specifically tabled for its calling.

    • Bulawayo 24

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