ED TAKES OVER ZANU PF AS MUGABE GETS BOOTED OUT | Former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa made a stunning political comeback yesterday, making good on his ominous promise of two weeks ago to return to Zimbabwe with a bang and take over from President Robert Mugabe at both party and government level, the Daily News can report.
In what looked unthinkable just over a week ago, Zanu PF recalled Mugabe from the seat of power he has occupied since the fall of colonial rule in 1980, also bringing the curtain down on his leadership of the revolutionary party since 1974/75 when he assumed its leadership from Ndabaningi Sithole following a vote of no confidence on the late nationalist.
He was immediately replaced by Mnangagwa, whose dismissal from Zanu PF on November 8 was reversed yesterday by the central committee, which is the law-making organ of the party.
The central committee convened its special meeting at the party headquarters in Harare where it ended Mugabe’s controversial rule spanning over four decades, saying the 93-year-old autocratic leader “had become hostage” to the vanquished “Generation 40 cabal”.
The organ said if Mugabe does not heed the demands to step down before midday today then the party will instruct its parliamentary chief whip, Lovemore Matuke — a Mnangagwa ally — to move a motion of impeachment, which has been on the cards for some time.
Basically, impeachment is a fundamental constitutional power belonging to Parliament of removing a sitting president or judge from office.
Generally, lawmakers are reluctant to use this power because of its gravity; it is only invoked by evidence of criminality or substantial abuse of power.
Should Parliament proceed with the motion to impeach Mugabe, the despot may end up facing trial in court.
Zanu PF has an assailable majority in Parliament, which means it can impeach Mugabe even without the opposition vote.
In this particular case, the ruling party finds itself in bed with the opposition, which had already indicated its readiness to haul Mugabe over the coals through the impeachment route.
Announcing the central committee resolutions, Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, said all people who were expelled from the party from 2014 should be reinstated.
By allowing cadres expelled in 2014 to come back, Zanu PF has also opened a window for former vice president Joice Mujuru and her cabal of more than 200 men and women who include Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo to troop back into the party.
Mujuru and her acolytes were expelled from the party in 2014 on unproven charges of plotting to topple Mugabe using unconstitutional means.
Chinamasa said the Zanu PF congress scheduled for December should go ahead only to ratify the decisions that were made yesterday and also to remove the “notion of one centre of power” which had resulted in Mugabe being treated as a deity.
“The central committee resolved that…Mugabe should resign forthwith from his position as president and head of State and government and if a resignation has not been tendered by 12 midday tomorrow (today) , the Zanu PF chief whip is instructed to initiate proceedings for the recall of the president in terms with Section 97 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Chinamasa.
In the absence of Mugabe, who is under house arrest and his deputy Phelekezela Mphoko, who is on the run after the military takeover last week, the most senior person in respect to the Zanu PF constitution present was Obert Mpofu, who is the ruling party secretary for finance.
Indeed, Mugabe was hoisted with his own petard as his once loyal lieutenants turned the tables against him and sealed his fate using the same methods he had used with perfection and brutal effect in his long political career.
Mugabe’s wife Grace, his deputy Mphoko, secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere were among the party heavyweights who were expelled from the ruling party, which said it was turning a fresh page.
“It was resolved that…Mphoko be recalled from his position for being divisive, spreading hate speech, protecting criminals, his manner was inconsistent with the decorum and office of the vice president,” said Chinamasa.
During the central committee meeting, Mnangagwa was elected interim president and first secretary, pending the party’s special congress. He was also nominated as the party’s candidate for the 2018 elections.
“It was resolved that…Mnangagwa be appointed interim president pending ratification by the extraordinary congress scheduled for December….the extraordinary congress should proceed for the purpose of ratifying the decision we have taken this afternoon,” said Chinamasa.
The once mighty Grace was also expelled for “spreading hate speech and exercising powers she did not have”.
According to the country’s Constitution, the party that had the president in government can nominate a replacement and the Zanu PF central committee also said its candidate after the departure of Mugabe will be Mnangagwa.
“This is history unwinding. We all came at a very short notice and we have seen democracy at play. The people have spoken. This central committee has agreed to recall…Mugabe. He has been our leader for a long time and we have learnt much from him. It is sad that he had to depart that way, he had surrounded himself with criminals who were recording politburo and Cabinet meetings. In as much as that is sad, the party will never allow those things again to revisit this,” said Mpofu, who famously once revealed that he is Mugabe’s “ever obedient son”.
In his last hours, Mugabe was ditched by almost everyone, his allies were either arrested or in hiding, his ministers such as Chinamasa and Mpofu openly denounced him, and his family, accustomed to a life of opulence was conspicuously absent as Zanu PF, the party he led since 1976 dumped him.
Chinamasa also announced that the ruling party would amend the Zanu PF constitution and remove the notion of one centre of power which had resulted in Mugabe being the sole signatory of everything in the party that was formed in 1963.
As was widely expected, Mnangagwa who only a few weeks ago was languishing in exile after he was expelled unceremoniously from government by Mugabe is now set to replace Mugabe in government.
Legal expert Alex Magaisa opined yesterday that while a party cannot necessarily recall a sitting president as in other countries such as South Africa, Zanu PF’s decision to fire Mugabe leaves him powerless and effectively in an “untenable position”.
“While a party has no power to recall a person from his role as national president, the consequences of firing him from the party are potentially fatal to his presidency. Now that Mugabe has been fired by his party and has lost control of the parliamentary party, his presidency is effectively untenable. In fact, Zanu PF ministers must now seriously re-consider their positions. Mass resignations would effectively cripple Mugabe’s government. It will become more difficult for his peers in Africa to continue justifying his presidency when he has lost political capital which comes from controlling the ruling party,” said Magaisa.
The central committee sat a day after multitudes of Zimbabweans from all walks of life had poured into the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and other major cities and towns dotted across the country, calling for Mugabe’s ouster.
This had been triggered by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces when it seized power from Mugabe’s administration early Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi is said to be seeking asylum in Cuba.
This comes as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on the African National Congress to be decisive “for once in their lives” and grant Mugabe asylum.
“This will advance peace in Zimbabwe and provide even better conditions for Zimbabweans to move faster into a better future under a democratic civilian rule‚” EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement on Saturday.
“As a matter of fact‚ he does not need any passport to come and live in South Africa and we shall never confine our relationship with him as an African leader to colonially- imposed borders.