Why Mavhaire won’t appeal


The Speaker, Cyril Ndebele, defended him but lost. Now the attorney-general, Patrick Chinamasa, says the party was wrong to suspend him.

That is good news for former Masvingo ZANU-PF provincial chairman, Dzikamayi Mavhaire, who was slapped with a two-year suspension for calling on President Mugabe to go, but political observers say despite this backing from the country’s top legal experts, Mavhaire will not appeal against his suspension.

“Soon after his suspension, he was going to appeal,” one political observer said. “But Mavhaire now sees a situation where he sees that his mentor (Eddison) Zvobgo has a little chance of taking over from Mugabe for a number of reasons, the major one being health. He is not going to make it, which explains why he wants to get a better constitution for Zimbabwe before he goes.

“Mavhaire sees himself in good health, popular and he sees the party ZANU-PF as the only way forward so he doesn’t want to take the step further of antagonising ZANU-PF by saying ‘OK, the attorney-general has said I was removed illegally so I am back’. He doesn’t want to take that step. He is going to say: ‘Look, you are my fathers I will wait until you call me back. He is all the time hoping that the 2000 elections will be so placed that his two years will be over.”

The observer said Mavhaire now sees himself as taking over Masvingo province from Zvobgo and therefore standing in line for national position, ” even as vice-president. That to me is the major tramp card, Mavhaire is playing.

“While not discounting Mavhaire’s popularity, another observer, however, said it was too early to write off Zvobgo.”He may be having problems with his health but he is still mentally sharp, perhaps even sharper than when he was a cabinet minister with a specific portfolio, now he has a lot of time to himself.”

Whatever the truth, according to one analyst, it appears most of those in the ZANU-PF leadership are now playing their last tramp cards to make sure they do not sink with the ship if, and when, President Mugabe goes.

One commentator argued that it was largely to protect his own career that the attorney-general undertook the unsolicited research into the suspension of Mavhaire.

“What underlies the attorney-general’s unsolicited research into the whole thing is essentially the fact that he is fed up,” the commentator said.

“He is fed up with supporting a system which he can see is no longer tenable. He actually, like Ndebele, realises that he may in a way be damaging his own reputation as a legally qualified person and so he is essentially watching his future.”

One observer said change was not very far and will be forced upon the ruling party when vice-President Joshua Nkomo goes. Nkomo who is known to have expressed his desire to step down years ago and is now not only old but in poor health has literally been held to ransom by Mugabe because he has no logical successor and some say, having old “guys” like Nkomo and Simon Muzenda, the other vice-President, made Mugabe feel better since he is younger than both.

“Joshua Nkomo has no choice but to go,” the observer said. “The question is whether he will die in office or he wants to leave office before he dies. Whichever way things go, it is going to force certain changes within ZANU-PF.”

The observer said he did not see Nkomo in office beyond this year. “I think he is tired. I don’t see him going to December. But I think he is in the process now of trying to figure out an heir apparent. This is not an easy task but I don’t see anyone other than Dumiso Dabengwa taking over from him. There are major guns firing on all cylinders but very silently in Matabeleland but Dabengwa seems to have an upper hand.”

But there is another factor that could change this. According to the observer, President Mugabe is under pressure from the donor community to appoint a woman to succeed Nkomo. This way, the observer said, Mugabe would kill two birds with one stone. He will have pacified the Ndebele community and women. The problem though, might be acceptability.

“My view is that Mugabe will say that is a non-starter. He won’t even consider it,” the observer said. He said there were three main reasons why this would be unacceptable.

Firstly almost all the women from Matabeleland are juniors in the party except for Tenjiwe Lesabe who is out of the running.

Secondly, the Ndebeles might consider this an insult, judging by the way they opposed the appointment of a woman chief in the area.

Thirdly, this would be a violation of the party protocol and could be challenged by those in senior positions who are not likely to challenge Dabengwa.

The observer also noted that President Mugabe himself was looking for a reasonable excuse to step down. “I think he is really nervous about the way things are politically in ZANU-PF, in the country economically and so forth. I think he will grab an appropriate time to step down. Despite the rhetoric, I don’t think he will do that in 2002. I think he might do that late this year or some time in 1999. There have been whispers that President Mugabe this month told his lieutenants he wanted to step down and there was panic since there is no logical successor.

Even Muzenda, the observer said, is ready to go. “He wants to step down yesterday, but Mugabe has largely prevailed on him to stay on. His health is a lot better and he would go up to 2000, but I don’t see him pitching in again to fight the elections in 2000. In fact I suspect that Muzenda may go at any time that his package is sealed.

“The problem of Muzenda not stepping down when Mugabe steps down is who will he work with? So it is likely that Mugabe will want to clear the deck at the vice-president level before he goes out so that when he goes out the person who comes in will also have his own team. It would be awkward for Muzenda to be vice-president to somebody who was junior to him, so he will want to step down before Mugabe steps down.”


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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