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Mugabe refuses to stand down - What are the options

by Lloyd Msipa
19 Nov 2017 at 10:42hrs | Views
Despite a popular show of people power demanding Mugabe to step down, he has stuck to his guns arguing that he is an elected president and in terms of the Zimbabwe Constitution he has a mandate until 2018. He also argues that the desired replacement, Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former deputy was fired from the party and therefore in terms of the ZANU PF Constitution he cannot replace him. What are the options available for the removal of Mugabe? To remove President Robert Mugabe legal, social and political solutions are required. We must not lose sight of the fact that Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. His rulership is entrenched, not only in the national psyche, but constitutionally, at party and national level. His entrenchment also extends to the regional bodies of whom he commands huge respect and efforts seem to be afoot to try and rescue him. His rulership in Zimbabwe is multi-layered, like onion layers and he will not be removed by one single act. Mugabe will have to be removed in instalments. So, what are the options.

The Zanu PF Party route
Following the resolutions arrived at by the party's ten provincial coordinating committees, recalling president Mugabe, it is now imperative for the party to convene the Central Committee. The required threshold for the central committee to convene is resolutions by six provinces. The Central Committee is the principal organ of Congress and acts on behalf of Congress when it is not in session. It has the unfettered powers to "make rules, regulations and procedures to govern the conduct of the party and its members, implement all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions and programmes enunciated by congress" and most importantly "make changes to the Constitution, if deemed necessary, subject to ratification by Congress".

The President and first secretary or one of his vice president would ordinarily chair the constitution. To recall President Robert Mugabe the Central Committee has to meet, constitute a quorum and elect a chair amongst themselves as the first order of business. After this it is then possible to recall Robert Mugabe from his position as first secretary of the party, also ask him to step down as president of the country. Using the argument that Emmerson Mnangagwa, was un-procedurally expelled from the party without following the party constitutional guidelines, he remains a member of Zanu PF, he will now be confirmed as the acting leader of the party pending the ratification of the same at the December Congress. Using the same argument all other members of the party expelled from the party can be pronounced as readmitted at this sitting. The Central Committee can't recall President Mugabe from his position as Head of State and President of Zimbabwe. All they can do is ask him to step down, as the party no longer backs him. He may constitutionally refuse and stick to his guns. This is because he is elected directly by the people of Zimbabwe. This takes us to option two.

The Parliamentary route

Zanu PF and the MDC party command the majority of members of parliament in both the Senate and the House of Assembly. In terms of section 97 (1) "The Senate and the National Assembly, by joint resolution passed by at least one half of the total membership, may resolve that the question whether or not the president be removed from office for-
a.    Serious misconduct
b.    Failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution
c.    Wilful violation of the Constitution; or
d.    Inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity;
Considering that the opposition MDC is working with the current initiative to remove president Mugabe, it is then plausible for either political parties to cause a Parliamentary Caucus to impeach the president should he refuses to heed the call to step down. This process, should it succeed will take away his presidency.

Mugabe's family as leverage
Mugabe, as part of the ongoing negotiations with Father Fidelis Mukonori has made numerous demands. One of them has been the protection of his family from prosecution. Considering he is playing hard ball, the military may also consider leveraging these demands on crimes that Grace Mugabe and her family have committed. Grace Mugabe has been usurping some of President Mugabe's powers, taking advantage of his old age. The position of first lady is not provided for in the constitution and yet she wielded so much power to a point of getting elected legislators to kneel before her. The threat of arrest and detention of Grace Mugabe will have far reaching effects on president Robert Mugabe. He will not function. It may break the barriers of bravado that he is putting up. The safety of his family is paramount to him. The smoking gun is in the public domain. His sons have been filmed on numerous occasions spending lavishly in nightclubs. Surely that money couldn't have been legitimate. The fact that the former Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa has called for Grace Mugabe to be investigated suggests that indeed there is a smoking gun somewhere. So, this is not about Robert Mugabe, but also his relatives who will be exposed if he leaves unceremoniously without an option.

The Peoples have spoken

The rally organised by the Zimbabwe war veterans yesterday has done most of the work. It would truly be something else if Robert Mugabe remains stubborn after the people of Zimbabwe rejected him. Robert Mugabe doesn't take rejection very well. We saw this recently when he reacted angrily when his own wife was booed at a Bulawayo youth interface. He is a very proud man. The message passed by the people yesterday was loud and clear. He is aware that the people have rejected him.

Robert Mugabe has been rejected by the military, the people and his party. The removal of Mugabe has to take a multi-faceted approach. He was entrenched legally, politically and socially. A legal route will not succeed without using political and social pressure. Let's not forget that the military is negotiating with a sword. They have the option to use it if all else fails and take the consequences. Either way Mugabe is history.

Source - Lloyd Msipa