Mphoko’s daunting task as appeals chairperson

Source: Mphoko’s daunting task as appeals chairperson – The Standard June 5, 2016

VICE-President Phelekezela Mphoko will come face-to-face with victims of his disciplinary procedure when the Zanu PF central committee appeals and review board sits to hear alleged cases of miscarriage of justice.


Mphoko, who will chair the review board, previously led the Zanu PF disciplinary committee whose conduct has come under criticism by aggrieved party members suspended or expelled from the party.

The Zanu PF politburo, which ironically is the secretariat of the central committee that is supposed to be represented by the appeals board, appointed Mphoko Zanu PF’s defacto national chairman to head the panel.

In a cruel twist of fate Mphoko was until then chairman of the Zanu PF national disciplinary committee that presided over the cases whose appeals he is now going to sit and hear.

Mphoko will be “assisted” by Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda (Matabeleland North), former Cabinet minister Paul Mangwana (Masvingo), Ellen Gwaradzimba (Manicaland), Absolom Sikhosana (Bulawayo), Tabeth Kanengoni Malinga (Mashonaland Central), Sydney Sekeramayi (Mashonaland East), Douglas Mombeshora (Mashonaland West), Tambudzani Mohadi (Matabeleland South), Melody Dziva (Midlands) and Sabina Thembani (Harare).

With factionalism virtually consuming every facet of the Zanu PF structure, insiders said the group led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on paper seemed to have the upper-hand.

“Mudenda, Sekeramayi, Mangwana, Gwaradzimba, Dziva and Mohadi are Mnangagwa loyalists. Tembani and Sikhosana were sympathetic to the faction previously led by [former vice-president] Joice Mujuru. Mphoko, Kanengoni Malinga and Mombeshora are G40,” the source said.

G40 is a faction of the ruling party bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa’s bid for the top job and is instead reportedly pushing First Lady Grace towards her 92-year-old husband’s throne.

As if to set the tone for the hearings, Mphoko seemed to wash his hands off the mayhem the national disciplinary committee is accused of.

“Those votes of no confidence that were passed did not come from us at the top in the national disciplinary committee, but from the provinces that the people come from. We are not part of this at all. It is just like in court, judges do to not go around looking for crimes that people commit, no,” Mphoko was quoted as having said.

A former party official who was suspended during the mayhem that obtained before and after the ruling party’s December 2014 congress, said chances of the appeals being fast-tracked were high.

“It’s not much of an appeal but an internal way of saving face by the party. The president [Robert Mugabe] is ashamed to just invite anyone who wants to come back to return.

It is the first time in the history of Zanu PF for such a committee to be set up. Now because the war veterans have voiced concern and accused the national disciplinary committee of usurping the powers of the central committee and ultimately violating the party constitution, the leadership wants a way out of a very black hole,” said the former central committee member.

Political analyst and academic, Ibbo Mandaza said Mphoko has been given the job to literally correct his mistakes.

“Mphoko is being asked to repair the damage he caused, including latitude to bring back those accused of supporting Mujuru but are still sitting on the fence. There is also a possibility of some kind of working relationship between Mujuru and those in the G40 faction and there have been overtures to this effect. This explains the olive branch offered to the likes of Nicholas Goche and Webster Shamu,” said Mandaza.

However, Austin Chakaodza, another political watcher said the victims of the two-year purges would be foolish to return to Zanu PF.

“The appeals are useless because in the first place, these people were fired in dodgy circumstances. The reasons for these suspensions and expulsions were designed to flex Mugabe’s muscle and show who is in charge. He can now nit-pick whomever he wants to bring back to the fold just to show who is the leader,” Chakaodza said.

Chakaodza added: “I think we have a case of a dog and hare situation. The hare must continue to run, find a new political home than be persuaded by the dog to relax, only to be chased again tomorrow. There is no guarantee they will not be humiliated again. I would be surprised if most of those fired for supporting Mujuru return because in the eyes of the public, their political credibility will seriously be eroded.”

But another analyst, Alexander Rusero said he believed Mugabe was just abusing the two factions in the party to show he is the boss.

“I see it as Mugabe’s clever way of neutralising the factions — giving power to Mphoko through one hand and taking by the other. He is just showing the two factions that he is in charge. He is reducing the power of those who thought they had uninhibited power to hire and fire while giving a new lease of life to the other faction which thought it was over. If a member of the party is fired by anyone other than Mugabe, then there is always life after death,” said Rusero.

Another source close to the developments in the ruling party said the internal dynamics in the review panel could make for interesting political intrigue.

War veterans and the military are reportedly supporting Mnangagwa’s cause and national chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa in particular, has not been shy to snarl on behalf of the faction. For this, he was suspended by the politburo and his case is also up for review along with his wife, Monica.

Seven former provincial youth chairpersons were also cut loose for making disparaging remarks about Grace and calling on Mugabe to rein in “your wayward wife”. The seven have indicated they will appeal.