HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has threatened to recall incompetent Members of Parliament from his party, including those who refuse to tow the party line in pursuit of narrow factional agendas.
While addressing a Zanu PF women’s league national assembly in Harare last week, Mnangagwa warned that he would not hesitate to call for by-elections to replace the errant legislators.
He said there were some MPs in the party who were voted into the august House before they were politically ripe after taking advantage of the chaos that characterised the ruling party’s primary polls held in May this year.
“MPs must work for the people and play their oversight role on the Executive but we know there are some who were rushed into Parliament yet they were not ripe. We will not hesitate to recall you from Parliament and call for a by-election in line with the Constitution because our party has rules, Mnangagwa said.
The president spoke amid tensions in his party over what many perceive to be unresolved succession issues.
Five months after his narrow election to lead the country for the next five years, Mnangagwa appears desperate to consolidate his power base.
Currently, his allies are falling over each other to endorse his candidature for the 2023 polls, with the Zanu PF women and youth leagues joining the war veterans in rallying support for Mnangagwa.
The endorsements are meant to close the door on ambitious party cadres who believe that Mnangagwa must serve one term and allow a new pair of hands to lead the country after the 2023 polls.
In May, the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader revealed that he had uncovered a plot by his MPs to impeach him after winning the July 30 elections.
“I got intelligence that some of those who have won this primary election have two minds. They have gone to join the Zanu PF wagon using various means, money included, to be elected with a possible view (that) once in Parliament they will band together and move a motion of impeachment,” said Mnangagwa at the time.
By threatening to expel underperformers and those who do not tow the party line, Mnangagwa now seems to be going for the jugular.
The country’s Constitution gives parties with representatives in Parliament the right to recall their MPs if they feel they no longer represent their interests in the august House.
It provides that a party that decides to use that right to recall does so by writing to the National Assembly Speaker through its secretary-general.
The speaker would then make a public announcement in Parliament and declare the respective seat vacant to open the door for the president to gazette dates for a by-election.
Last week, Mnangagwa suggested that the chaos that epitomised the ruling party’s internal polls was down to the inexperience of its political commissar Engelbert Rugeje which saw some undeserving candidates being imposed on the electorate.
Rugeje, a former brigadier in the army, was plucked from the barracks and catapulted to lead the Zanu PF commissariat department after the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe in November last year.
He took over from former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere who, along with Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao and former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo had to skip the country to escape the military which was in hot pursuit of “criminals around” Mugabe.
The military operation, code-named Operation Restore Legacy was targeting members of the Generation 40 faction, which was opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
“When we held our primary elections this year, there were a lot of errors and problems. Those who were not strong enough could have been affected to the extent of quitting the party. You did not because you have the party at heart, you proceeded to vote for those imposed candidates although you were unhappy with the imposition,” he said.
Mnangagwa said the chief culprits in the imposition scandal were the party leadership.
“I do not think the juniors have the capacity to impose the seniors to positions, but instead, it is the seniors who can endorse people.
“We are totally against imposition of candidates. That will never happen again. The people’s choice must be respected. If people choose the leader they want and you take them for fools and impose the one that you want, you end up being the real fool,” he said.