Zanu-PF Politburo member Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu yesterday said the party’s national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo is too junior to assume the post of Vice President, describing him as a “schoolboy who takes minutes”. Cde Ndlovu, who was one of the five ex-Zapu leaders said to be eyeing the post, ended his bid yesterday and declared support for rival Cde Phelekezela Mphoko.
In withdrawing his interest in the post, Cde Ndlovu launched a blistering attack on Cde Khaya Moyo.
He said he had consulted widely and shared the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s expressed view that the 1987 Unity Accord which brought together the liberation movements, Zanu and PF-Zapu, “did not provide for, or foresee, a contest” as part of the appointment of Zanu-PF’s two second secretaries.
Cde Ndlovu said: “I’m pleased to advise that, after a careful and wide-ranging process of consultations over the last eight or so weeks, I’ve decided not to be part of the contest for the post of Vice President and second secretary of Zanu-PF reserved for the former PF-Zapu.
“I fully agree with the sentiment recently expressed by the First Lady, and our party’s incoming Secretary for Women’s Affairs, Dr Grace Mugabe that the two posts of Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries of Zanu-PF are not meant to be contested for as products and expressions of the historic 1987 Unity Accord.
“Right from the beginning, my interest was not to contest against anyone for the post in question, but to ensure that the right and correct procedures are followed in filling the two vacancies, including the post of national chairman.
“For the record, it is a fact that the Unity Accord requires that the two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries of Zanu-PF be appointed by the President and First Secretary of the party. The Unity Accord did not provide for, or foresee, a contest as part of the appointment of the party’s two Vice Presidents, not least because a contest by definition is the opposite of unity in that it tends to be divisive and invariably leads to competing centres of power which undermine unity.”
Cde Ndlovu’s reference to the Unity Accord throws a fresh challenge to Zanu-PF which has over the years failed to provide expression in its constitution for provisions of the Accord signed by President Mugabe and the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
Whereas the Unity Accord envisaged that the President and Zanu-PF First Secretary would appoint his two deputies, the current Zanu-PF constitution requires their election.
The anomaly is one of the major legal issues confronting the party ahead of its elective congress in December, and could come up in tomorrow’s Politburo meeting.
Cde Ndlovu said he would not shirk from his view that the former PF-Zapu nominee for Vice President should be the most senior surviving leader. He has previously stated that he was that individual, but was prepared to forego the post as he did when Cde John Nkomo was elevated to Vice President.
Precedence had put Cde Khaya Moyo ahead of the pack after two ex-PF Zapu national chairmen before him, Cde Joseph Msika and Cde John Nkomo, landed the vice presidency.
Cde Ndlovu said the race for the post was now mired in confusion, which he did not want to be a part of, adding he would rather advise on the way forward from outside the “confusion”.
Asked what he meant by seniority, he replied: “People like Mphoko built the liberation war effort from the front on the battlefield, not from a classroom,” in apparent reference to Cde Khaya Moyo who was at school at the beginning of the liberation war.
“You can’t compare a person who was at school, fighting from the classroom, whose main contribution was praying and telling friends in class that ‘my friends are fighting, I will join them in future,’ with a person who was on the field, someone who will tell you Zipra (the Zapu military wing) was formed in such a year and gives you the command hierarchy.”
Cde Mphoko is Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to Botswana and South Africa.
Cde Ndlovu, the first black mayor of Bulawayo at independence in 1980, refused to say outright that Cde Mphoko was the most senior, saying that he was only explaining what happened for Zimbabweans to determine for themselves who was the deserving candidate.
“One was at school and he can be called a schoolboy, the one who was in the bush was a soldier, he was fighting the actual war. Zimbabweans can then decide for themselves,” explained Cde Ndlovu.
He admitted that there was “a lot of confusion” about the role and context of seniority in the selection or appointment of the national leadership of the party. But Cde Ndlovu said Zimbabwe was not at a stage in its political development to “allow careless and dangerous talk to undermine the importance of considering seniority in the former PF-Zapu as an important part of the criteria of selecting one of the two Vice Presidents in accordance with the Unity Accord.”
He explained: “While there’s no doubt that merit is very important, it should be remembered that it’s more of a bureaucratic or technical quality than a political one, and that in any event the meaning of merit in a political situation is very different from its bureaucratic or technical context.
“It’s an insult for anyone to suggest that people like me rose to seniority in the former PF-Zapu without merit or that the seniority we talk about and insist upon does not include merit.
“More fundamentally, it’s important for us all to understand that the kind of merit that counts the most in political leadership is about having substantive wisdom.”
Cde Ndlovu, along with Cde Mphoko, Cde Khaya Moyo, Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi, and Rtd Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri have all been named in connection with the vacant post.
Last week, the First Lady called the ex-PF Zapu leaders an embarrassment while urging them to consult and come up with a single name for President Mugabe’s consideration.
Cde Ndlovu said he had previously engaged Cde Mohadi and Cde Mphoko, but they only came for one meeting and ignored his invitations for other meetings.
“I could not get in touch with Mutinhiri because I don’t have his number. As for SK [Cde Khaya Moyo], a schoolboy, what would I discuss with him? He writes books according to instructions and takes minutes,” Cde Ndlovu said in an exclusive interview from his Bulawayo home.
He said he would “remain seized with and focused on ensuring that wisdom prevails and that the right procedures are followed in maintaining both the letter and spirit of the Unity Accord in filling the vacancies of the two posts in question.”
“As such,” he went on, “I will do everything in my power and ability to assist our President and First Secretary Cde Mugabe to ensure that our party is well served not just today but also well into the foreseeable future. This is the least I can do as a senior member of the party who believes that the party’s unity and indeed Zimbabwe’s national unity are not just bureaucratic issues but very serious matters whose attainment is not attainable without wisdom.”