Zanu-PF Hints on Succession
>> Succession and factionalism have become buzzwords whenever the media report on issues related to Zanu-PF’s recent provincial elections. THE HERALD caught up with Zanu-PF spokesperson RUGARE GUMBO (RG) at the party’s just-ended 14th Annual People’s Conference and asked him how the party is handling this hot potato. There has been talk of succession and factionalism and the two seem to be linked. How are you managing the situation and as a party, do you have any plans to deal with succession?
RG: We are not dealing with the issue of succession. We want to build a strong party. If you have a strong party that is ideologically and politically sound, there is no problem because people know what they have to do. But if you have a party that is riddled with these divisional tendencies and factionalism, then you run into these problems of succession because everyone is running to be looked at as President. If the party is strong and sound there is no reason to worry because everyone knows that this guy is going to succeed the other.
That is what happens in most political parties and other former liberation movements; they do the same thing. When a party has different ideological tendencies, it creates room for opportunists to try and drive factionalism.
But what is the cause of factionalism?
RG: The root of factionalism is the result of the party failing to project itself as a revolutionary party. The party should always be firm but fair and not tolerate behaviour and practices that undermine the party. As an example, corruption has gone unchecked while some cadres have unbridled ambitions and if we cannot curb them, the party will run into problems.
You mentioned the issue of ill-discipline and unbridled ambition. Is the party going to take drastic action like expulsions?
RG: I am not a member of the disciplinary committee but as a party, we really take exception to some weird behaviour that does not adhere to party policies, our ideology and ethos.
Our ideology derives from the liberation struggle, that point must be emphasised … You do not come out in the party denouncing the leadership. We have what we call democratic centralism: you criticise, have self-criticism and then transform.
Has the President made any hints that he wants to step down, which may be leading to such speculation when he has just been elected to serve a five-year term?
RG: There are people complaining you get that news from the bars. Then you say the President is asked to step down. As far as I know there is no one who has made that call.
The party is very clear. The President got the mandate and he won the elections with 61 percent (of the vote).
Who will ask him to step down when he has five years to serve?
I do not know where that nonsense about some people saying we do not want the President to complete his term comes from, but wherever it comes from is banal and nonsensical.
But there are indications that there are clear factions seeking to succeed President Mugabe.
RG: What I am asking you is, how is the structure of the party right now? President Mugabe leads the party; Mai Mujuru (Vice President Joice Mujuru) is the second, Simon Khaya-Moyo (national chairman) is third and fourth is (Didymus) Mutasa (secretary for administration). So, if that is the structure what else do you want?
You see, this is where we have problems and people say there are two factions one belonging to Mujuru. But Mujuru is in the hierarchy. How can she form a faction when she is the Second Secretary of the party and Vice President of the nation? It is because some people have agendas.
Who are those that have agendas and what are the agendas?
RG: I don’t know, you may know!
The issue many Zimbabweans will be interested in is when President Mugabe decides to step down, who will be the successor?
RG: It will be determined by the President and by the situation at that moment.
Which means that his deputy might or might not succeed him? Is it not a straitjacket?
RG: I don’t know the equations but surely the President has an idea of who will take over. But we as the Politburo will support whatever the decisions the party will take. The party is supreme and I was talking about the respect of decisions of the senior members of the party and that is one of them.
So if President Mugabe says he wants so-and-so who are we to question that?
But what does the party constitution say?
RG: The constitution of the party is quite clear. The person to take over must be elected by the people and by the hierarchy of the party.
What are the mechanisms that the party has for filling posts? Is it a free-for-all kind of situation?
RG: It all depends, you know some of these departures are by virtue of death and these are not planned for but what we are saying as a party is that the Politburo and the Central Committee look into the modalities of handling an issue of this nature. We have done this in the past.
We have done that following the death of (Vice President Joshua) Nkomo, and the death of (Vice President) Simon Muzenda and now we are grappling with the death of (Vice President) John Landa Nkomo.