AS factional scheming and jostling for leadership positions in Zanu-PF escalates ahead of the party’s elective Congress in December, some individuals who are allegedly plotting Vice President Joice Mujuru’s ascendancy have come up with a new slogan which observers say is divisive and downplays the powers of the President and First Secretary of the ruling party by exalting an informal Presidium as a collective, apparently to advance not-so-hidden political agendas.
While Zanu-PF has traditionally referred to its President, the two VPs and national chairman as the Presidium — with secretary for administration as secretary to the Presidium — the Zanu-PF constitution does not have such structure or organ, as its President and First Secretary is the sole constitutional leader of the party.
The debate on the meaning and status of the Presidium has spilled into the public domain after it emerged that in the run-up to the recent Youth and Women’s conferences, Zanu-PF officials in some provinces devised what others in the ruling party are viewing as divisive slogans that smack of factionalism and personal agendas as the slogans in question have no basis in the party’s constitution, tradition or contemporary practice.
One such slogan currently doing the rounds in some provinces and which has raised eyebrows says: “Pamberi neZanu-PF, Pamberi nePresidium, Pamberi neCentral Committee”.
This slogan is being used in place of the one which, as a party standard, says Pemberi neZanu PF, Pamberi naPresident Mugabe”.
Some concerned Zanu-PF members yesterday said the new slogan is not just politically mischievous but is also unconstitutional because the Presidium is not a structure or organ of the ruling party.
Cde Factmore Marange, a South Africa-based Zimbabwean lawyer and active Zanu-PF member, said those behind the slogans must stop forthwith.
“The Zanu-PF constitution does not provide for a Presidium. While the idea of respecting party leaders is indeed well-founded and in fact necessary, that respect must not be corrupted and confused with the agendas of ambitious individuals who invoke the Presidium to give the false impression that they are part of the Presidency and therefore are equal to or share powers with President Mugabe when the fact is they don’t.
“While the President may, from time to time, delegate some powers to these individuals, they must never forget the principle of law that goes delegatus non potest delegare, which means one to whom power is delegated can’t themselves delegate that power. This is for the simple reason that delegated power is borrowed and is never theirs.”
Another senior Zanu-PF Politburo member, who is also a veteran nationalist and a liberation war fighter who did not want to be named, concurred with Cde Marange, saying President Mugabe – as the First Secretary and President of the party – was not at par with any other party official, which is why he alone appoints Politburo members.
“While President Mugabe may indeed delegate powers to those below him including his Vice Presidents, it is plainly ridiculous for anyone to suggest that exercising powers delegated by the President means that one to whom such power has been delegated is equal to, or shares power with, the delegating authority. That cannot be correct. In terms of its constitution, Zanu-PF has one President who is also the party’s First Secretary with full powers that are not shared with anybody else.
“The notions of the Presidency or the Presidium that some comrades are now invoking in some provinces are just election campaign slogans ahead of the forthcoming Congress scheduled for December. The slogans are not supported by anything that is in the party’s constitution. Moreover, the idea that the so-called Presidium or Presidency constitutes an election slate that should be voted for as a bloc at the party’s Congress is a legal nullity invoked by people with a hidden agenda to push something that has no constitutional foundation.
“It is a no-brainer that President Mugabe has always been directly elected alone as the party’s President and First Secretary and not as part of any electoral slate”, said the Politburo Member.
Lawyer Cde Marange said a constitutionally structural “Presidium” was alien to Zanu-PF and should be dropped.
“Otherwise the important fact is that, wherever it has existed, the Presidium has been established not through slogans but by law or in the constitution of the political parties that have had it. This is the case in Germany where the Presidium consists of the President and Vice Presidents of the Bundestag (the German Parliament).
“In the former communist countries the Presidium was the permanent overseeing bodies of legislative structures such as the former Supreme Soviet in the then USSR, which included the Presidium of the Central Committee. Current examples of the Presidium as statutorily provided for includes the Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium in the Democratic Republic of North Korea, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in China, the inner or topmost circle of the Awami Party League in Bangladesh and the umbrella structure of the chairpersons of student organisations in Scandinavia.
In Zimbabwe, the Presidium or the Presidency is just a mere word with no legal legs or consequence”.
War veteran Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa came out blazing in an interview last week accusing Cde Mutasa of leading a campaign to sabotage and wrest power from the President but Cde Mutasa has since been quoted in some sections of the media denying the accusations.