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Tsholotsho Declaration of November 2004: the untold story

16 Oct 2017 at 08:36hrs | Views
THIS is a continuation of an article we published last week in which the former Information minister reveals details of Zanu-PF's power struggle which culminated in the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration of November 2004:

THE first meeting of Zanu-PF provincial chairmen and provincial governors that specifically deliberated on the principles of the Tsholotsho Declaration chaired by Elliot Manyika took place in Harare on August 16, 2004.  This meeting reviewed the party's constitution and various resolutions by the key organs of the party on the procedures for nominating and electing the top four leaders of the party.

A week later on August 23, another meeting of the same provincial chairmen and provincial governors still chaired by Manyika was again held in Harare.  At this meeting the seven provinces of Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Mashonaland West voted in favour of the principles that later became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration regarding the procedures for the nomination of the top four leaders of Zanu-PF while this was opposed by the three provinces of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Harare.

It became clear from the deliberations of this meeting and the outcome of the vote that Emmerson Mnangagwa would be elected as one of the two vice-presidents and second secretaries and would be poised to succeed Mugabe.

A final meeting on the same subject by the provincial chairmen and provincial governors, again under the chairmanship of Manyika, was held in Zvimba, President Mugabe's home area, on August 30, 2004.  At this crucial meeting the vote in favour of the principles now generally known as the Tsholotsho Declaration and its electoral implications increased from seven provinces to eight when Chen Chimutengwende, as chairman of Mashonaland Central province, added his vote although the other chairmen doubted his capacity to carry his province with him.

After this meeting, Manyika went to brief the then Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Mnangagwa, about the outcome of the deliberations of provincial chairmen and provincial governors, an outcome whose essence was to adopt the principles of what has come to be known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
On the same day, August 30, 2004, Mnangagwa sent a letter to provincial chairmen advising them to notify all party structures under them about the convening of the fourth annual people's congress due in December 2004 and the business of that congress including the election of the party leadership and the procedures thereof.  

Because a vote had been taken in favour of the principles of what later became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration by the two meetings of the provincial chairmen and provincial governors on August 23 and 30, 2004, it is common cause that this result was conveyed to the party leadership including President Mugabe who also knew that the last vote was taken in Zvimba, his home area.  There was nothing clandestine or sinister about it.

A week or so before the Zanu-PF Women's Congress that was held on September 2, 2004, there was a meeting in Beatrice in Mashonaland East of some Zanu-PF politicians and technocrats linked to Solomon Mujuru's camp and elements from the three provinces - Mashonaland Central, Harare and Mashonaland East - that had voted against the principles of the Tsholotsho Declaration at the meeting of provincial chairmen and provincial governors on August 23, 2004.

The specific purpose of this Beatrice meeting was to throw spanners into the works of the decisions by provincial chairmen and provincial governors on the application of the principles that later defined the Tsholotsho Declaration in order to scuttle what was then seen as the impending inevitable election of Mnangagwa which would break the Zezuru ethnic monopoly of presidential power.

At that meeting, Nathan Shamuyarira is said to have proposed that there was a need to find a vice-president who would not overshadow President Mugabe in both stature and capacity and that the best strategy for achieving that was to use the women's congress on September 2, 2004, to garner support for a woman candidate, Joice Mujuru.

This would kill two birds with one stone: block the application of the principles of what became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration thereby effectively blocking Mnangagwa's ascendancy while enabling the emergence of a second vice- president who would not overshadow Mugabe but who would maintain the Zezuru ethnic domination and hegemony in Zimbabwean politics.
This strategy was pursued at the women's congress as both First Lady Grace Mugabe and President Mugabe himself were roped in to use their addresses at this congress to shock the meeting and the nation by declaring that the vacant post for vice-president and second secretary previously held by the late Vice President Simon Muzenda should be reserved for a woman.

This high-profile intervention by the first family in this manner shocked many in the party and the country because it flew in the face of the party's constitution and commonsense.

Also by this time, through the formal structures of the party, a circular from the secretary of administration had already gone out on August 30, 2004, advising provincial chairmen to prepare for the December 2004 congress in terms of the party's constitution which did not have a provision reserving one of the positions of vice-president and second secretary for a woman.

On November 11, 2004, in consultation with Manyika as political commissar and with the specific approval of President Mugabe, Mnangagwa sent another letter to provincial chairmen as a follow-up to his August 30, 2004, letter as required by the party's constitution, informing them about the procedures for the nomination of the top four leadership positions ahead of the December 2004 congress and confirming November 21, 2004, as the nomination date.

By this time everyone in the party knew that the nominations for the top four leadership positions in the party and central committee members would be done by provincial executives on November 21, 2004.  More specifically, it was common knowledge in the party that the principles of what later became the Tsholotsho Declaration would apply as supported by at least seven and possibly eight provinces of the party.

On November 14, 2004, the chairman of the Tsholotsho Zanu-PF district coordinating committee, Believe Gaule, and the Tsholotsho rural district council chairman, Alois Ndebele, approached me in Bulawayo requesting that I help them invite Mnangagwa in his capacity both as secretary for administration in the party and speaker of parliament to be the guest of honour at a speech and prize giving day at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho on November 18, 2004.

I was very reluctant to agree because of the short notice and also because I knew that the secretary for administration was busy with preparations for the party congress scheduled for December 2004.

But Gaule and Ndebele put a lot of pressure on me arguing that they had seen how Mnangagwa had been to Ntalale Secondary School in Matabeleland South as a guest of honour at a speech and prize giving day which had tremendously benefited the school hardly a week earlier and that we needed to try and bring similar benefits to Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho.
They also argued that I needed to take advantage of an event such as they were proposing to bring the senior leadership of the party, especially provincial chairmen, to Tsholotsho as part of our parliamentary election campaign for the March 2005 election which we had by then started in earnest.  Upon assessing the implications of their argument, I agreed although I still doubted if Mnangagwa would be able to attend due to the short notice.

On November 15, 2004, I spent the whole day in Tsholotsho trying to reach Mnangagwa in Harare without success. Towards the end of the day, I telephoned Francis Nhema and told him of the request from Tsholotsho and asked him to help relay the message to Mnangagwa if he could find him and he agreed to do that.

Nhema called later that night to advise that he had found Mnangagwa who had agreed to be the guest of honour at the Dinyane High School speech and prize giving day and that I should give him details of the event, expectations of the school and to prepare a draft speech when I get to Harare the next day.

I then contacted George Charamba about the event and asked him to help with the provision of the necessary logistical arrangements. I also asked him to draft a speech for Mnangagwa appropriate for the occasion which he did rather well. On the same night I called several chairmen of the party that I could find and told them about the event and invited them to attend and to bring gifts for the school.

The majority of them said they would attend except, interestingly enough, those like Amos Midzi who had voted against the principles of what became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration on August 23, 2004, in Harare and on August 30, 2004, in Zvimba.

On November 16, I discussed the invitation with Mnangagwa at parliament and we agreed that we would leave for Tsholotsho on November 18 in the morning by Air Zimbabwe to Bulawayo and drive from there to Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho. The next day on the morning of November 17, I forwarded to Mnangagwa's office the draft speech and confirmed travel arrangements as well as logistical preparations in Tsholotsho itself.

To my utter shock, later on that day, I got a call from Mnangagwa asking me to urgently go to his office in parliament as there was a new development that could affect the Dinyane High School event the next day. I rushed there wondering what had happened.
Mnangagwa said it was no longer possible for us to travel by Air Zimbabwe in the morning as previously arranged because he had been called by President Mugabe and told to convene an emergency Zanu-PF politburo meeting the next day - November 18 - to discuss very serious complaints Mugabe had received about preparations for the nomination of the party's leadership scheduled for November 21, 2004, as per the letter that Mnangagwa had sent to provinces with Mugabe's specific approval.

We considered cancelling the Tsholotsho event in the light of this development that there would be a previously unscheduled politburo meeting on the same day. But there had been a tremendous public response
to the Dinyane High School event and, after making a few calls suggesting we cancel or reschedule, it became clear that the event had to happen.

Upon being told by Mnangagwa that President Mugabe had said the emergency politburo meeting would be brief because the president was scheduled to depart that afternoon for Zanzibar, I then suggested that we would see if we could hire a private plane or helicopter to Tsholotsho and I immediately asked my office to look into that given the new situation that had arisen.

Later my office confirmed that we could hire a private plane to Bulawayo and drive to Tsholotsho from there using funds that we had raised outside treasury but from national sources.

Source - theindependent
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