Home Politics Oppah Muchinguri, Mutsvangwa Eye Vice Presidency

Oppah Muchinguri, Mutsvangwa Eye Vice Presidency

ZANU PF is in a dilemma whether to amend its constitution to re-introduce a woman as one of the party’s vice presidents as a replacement to former VP Kembo Mohadi.

There is reportedly growing pressure from women for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to appoint a woman as one of his deputies, as was the case before former vice president Joice Mujuru was fired from the party and government by the late former president Robert Mugabe in 2014.

It also comes as Mnangagwa is said to be facing a difficult choice as he looks for suitable candidates to replace Mohadi, who resigned under pressure last month after damaging claims of personal indiscretions were widely circulated on social media.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, Paul Mangwana, said that amending the party’s constitution to accommodate a woman as one of the country’s deputy presidents was not a current consideration.

“At the moment we are not targeting the vice president’s post. If we complete our constitution amendments we are going to give you so that you read it for yourself.

“It (the party’s constitution) does not talk of certain positions having women. We are simply saying we stand for gender equality as an aspiration, but it won’t happen overnight.

“Even in all political formations they are failing to achieve that (women’s quota), although everyone is trying to do so,” Mangwana said.

“There are many socio-economic challenges in the country which are actually fighting against that aspiration, but we are trying to achieve it.

“We have gender representation in our party across the board. We are striving for gender equality as a modern and progressive party.

“That is a general principle which applies in every structure. For every position in the party, we are striving to have gender equality,” Mangwana added.

This comes as women advocacy groups have implored Mnangagwa and Zanu PF to re-appoint a woman as one of the country’s vice presidents.

Last month, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (Wcoz) and Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe) led various  female advocacy groups in calling for the appointment of a woman to replace Mohadi, as part of fostering gender balance.

Walpe executive director Sithabile Dewa said it was high time Mnangagwa gave a woman the top position again, to ensure the inclusion of the fairer sex in decision-making processes.

“The appointment of a female vice president is long overdue and we expect the president to do the right thing and right the wrongs of 2018.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa

“By appointing a female vice president, the president would have respected tenets of Sections 17, 56 and 80 of the constitution.

“Women being the majority of the population are the most affected by the social, economic, political and environmental challenges in the country, it is prudent to have representation in one of the highest offices in the country in fulfilment of national, regional and international statutes that call for gender balance in all leadership and decision-making processes,” Dewa said.

Wcoz chairperson Evernice Munando weighed in, saying it was important to affirm women to achieve gender parity.

“We take this opportunity to remind the nation that women’s political participation at all levels is commensurate with that of men as a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy.

“Cognisant of this opportune time, we urge the president to exercise his powers to appoint a female vice president, in a manner that demonstrates his often-stated commitment to equality in appointments and electoral representation,” she said.

Among female Zanu PF senior officials who are seen as potential candidates to become State vice presidents are Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni and women’s league boss Mabel Chinomona.

In December 2004, Zanu PF amended its constitution to accommodate a female vice president, in what was seen as a move to block Mnangagwa from becoming the ruling party’s other vice president, following the death of Simon Muzenda on September 20, 2003.

Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri

The other vice president at the time was the now late Joseph Msika.

Then, Mnangagwa had garnered the support of at least six of Zanu PF’s 10 provinces when Mugabe pulled the plug on him and allowed the amendment to sail through.

Six Zanu PF provincial chairpersons were subsequently suspended by Mugabe for rooting for Mnangagwa after meeting in Tsholotsho ahead of the party’s congress. The meeting became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.

This saw Mujuru becoming vice president until she was sacked by Mugabe in December 2014, at the height of the ruling party’s factional, tribal and succession wars — over false allegations that she wanted to topple the nonagenarian from power.

Mugabe went on to appoint Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as his co-vice presidents in both Zanu PF and the government — abandoning the women quota system in the process.

The resurgent clamour for a woman vice president comes as Mnangagwa is facing a difficult choice in replacing Mohadi.

It also comes as it has been the tradition since the consummation of the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu that one of the vice presidents comes from Zapu, and also from Matabeleland.

However, the Unity Accord has no specific clause stating explicitly that one of the two vice presidents must come from either Zanu PF or PF Zapu.

Mohadi resigned from office on March 1— marking the first time in the history of independent Zimbabwe that a sitting vice president has quit his or her job.

“I have been going through a soul searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problems outside the government chair.

“I have arrived at this decision not as a matter of cowardice, but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the president, so that it is not compromised or caricatured by actions that are linked to my challenges as an individual,” he said.

“The inter-connectivity with social media ecologies have been relaying viral panics, peddling flames of lies — creating myths and muddling the reality of my life as a family man.

“I am a victim of information distortion, voice cloning, and sponsored spooking and political sabotage. Digital media, in their hybridity, have been abused by my enemies to blackmail me, but my spirit will never die.

“Following the recurring disinformation and virilisation of my alleged immoral unions, dispensed through awkward slacktivism, I’m stepping down as the vice president of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of section 96 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (no.20) Act, 2013 with immediate effect,” Mohadi added.

Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, vice presidents have either died in office or been fired.

The late Simon Muzenda, Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo all died in office — while Mujuru was sacked from her position, at the height of Zanu PF’s tribal, factional and succession wars.

And in the twilight of Mugabe’s rule, Generation 40 (G40) kingpins coalesced around the nonagenarian’s erratic wife Grace — resulting in the group being involved in a hammer and tongs succession tussle with Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste.

Mugabe subsequently fired Mnangagwa in early November 2017, before he came back to become the country’s new leader following a stunning and widely-supported military coup.

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