The race is on.Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi has thrown his hat into the ring to battle it out with Vice-President Joice Mujuru and National Chair Simon Khaya Moyo for one of the ruling party’s two VP posts. In addition, Zanu-PF insiders say Secretary for Legal Affairs Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa is also eyeing a VP post, though no official confirmation of this could be sourced by the time of writing.
With Zanu-PF likely to continue its tradition of “reserving” one VP post for an ex-Zapu cadre, this could result in a battle between Cde Khaya Moyo and Cde Mohadi on one hand, and VP Mujuru and Cde Mnangagwa on the other.
And party Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Rugare Gumbo said no post would be uncontested, setting the stage for an epic Zanu-PF Congress.
Briefings with senior party officials over the past week revealed that there is also an intense race for the National Chair’s post.
Assuming that Cde Khaya Moyo is elevated, incumbent Secretary for Economic Affairs Cde Obert Mpofu, Central Committee member Cde Ambrose Mutinhiri and Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to South Africa, Cde Phekezela Mphoko, will likely tussle it out to succeed him.
Cde Mohadi, who is Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for Security, told The Sunday Mail that he was “offering” himself up to be Vice President.
“There is only one vacancy and that is the VP’s post. I have offered myself for the post. I am not cheap and I am for the big race,” he said.
“Who doesn’t want power? We all want power; even if you were to be nominated or elected, would you refuse? I will be equally happy and I am ready for the game.”
Contrary to views that the seat left vacant by late VP John Landa Nkomo and that of the National Chair were the only top positions up for grabs, Cde Gumbo told The Sunday Mail that the party’s constitution provided for members to contest all top leadership positions at Congress.
There have been suggestions that VP Mujuru would automatically retain her post, and Cde Khaya Moyo would likewise be smoothly promoted to Second VP.
But Cde Gumbo said the main purpose of the Congress, among other mandates, was to endorse, acclaim or elect a President and First Secretary, two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries, and a National Chair.
“This is an elective Congress and not (an annual) Conference. All posts will be contested and as you have witnessed, the President’s post has already started being subjected to that process with the Youth and Women’s leagues endorsing his candidature. It remains for (provinces) to state their position at Congress.
“Usually there is no contest for Presidency since the President has already been given a fresh mandate after winning the national elections last year. We would expect him to continue until the next Congress. So we hope he will be endorsed at the coming Congress. The endorsement is the way of electing him.
“But we expect provinces to select their choices for the two Vice Presidents’ posts as well as that of National Chairman. As regards the talk that so-and-so wants to be Secretary for Administration, well that is a Politburo post and the President will nominate his choice together with other secretaries for various portfolios. Congress then endorses the President’s choice.”
He added: “I really don’t know where people are getting it (Vice President Mujuru automatically retaining her post) from. Let us not jump the gun. It is difficult to say the VP post held by Mai Mujuru will be up for grabs or not or to say it is not contested; I don’t think so.
“I would imagine there would be acclamation, but like any other (post) you would expect contest. It is not a new thing in the party. Remember, we have had, in the past congresses, two or more nominations for a single post being put forward by the provinces.”
The build-up to the forthcoming Congress has witnessed a dramatic change of the Zanu-PF political playing field as witnessed by the Women and Youth league’s recommendation of First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe to lead the women’s wing.
Party insiders also say incumbent Women’s League Secretary Cde Oppah Muchinguri’s pro Amai Mugabe campaign could have been motivated by the possibility that she wants to leave active politics.
On the other hand, there has been speculation that Cde Mnangagwa – who is also Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister – could slug it out against VP Mujuru.
Both Cdes Mnangagwa and Muchinguri were not available for comment while Ambassador Khaya Moyo’s mobile phone went unanswered yesterday.
Cde Mpofu is understood to be in China as part of President Mugabe’s State visit.
However, insiders said Cde Mpofu had posited the idea that it was time Zanu-PF moved away from “reserving” the Second VP and National Chair posts for ex-Zapu cadres.
“His argument is that those posts should reflect the Matabeleland region’s aspirations and those people who are best placed to represent those aspirations.
“As such, he is saying the posts should go to anyone who is capable and dedicated from the region, not just an ex-Zapu person.
“We are not sure if he is going for the Chair or not, but it is a distinct possibility,” said a Politburo official.
The insiders are also predicting surprise nominations to key other posts ahead of the December Congress.
Traditionally, the Congress, held after every five years, has witnessed surprise nominations of Presidium members, except President Mugabe whose dominance is uncontested.
In 2009, Masvingo made a U-turn after having initially nominated Cde Muchinguri to challenge VP Mujuru while lining up Cde Mohadi for National Chair, a post that Cde Didymus Mutasa was also interested in but subsequently went to Cde Khaya Moyo.
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