The last few weeks have been very interesting in Zimbabwean politics. Interesting because so much happened in the blink of an eye. For the first time in 37 years, Zimbabweans from all upbringings merged in their common cause to march against former president Robert Mugabe’s protracted reign. On the 18th November 2017, thousands of Zimbabweans took to the street to express their displeasure in the affairs of the country. The unity exhibited by Zimbabweans on the day was last seen in April 1980 – if not better. In particular, their common source of fury emanated from the fact that Robert Mugabe presided over one of the worst economies in modern history. In essence, the common feeling was that he had arrogantly overturned the fortunes of a thriving nation into a desperate State. As a result of Zimbabweans’ coordinated effort, Mugabe eventually succumbed to the pressure and resigned on 21 November 2017.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, acting in accordance with provisions of section 212 of the Constitution, moved in to protect its citizenry, secure the lives of future generations and to ensure the general security of the nation.
Needless to say, although the transitional effort was implemented by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and well within the margins of section 212 of the Zimbabwean Constitution as pronounced by High Court judge President Gorge Chiweshe, the opposition insisted on some sort of transitional arrangement. Comrade Christopher Hatikure Mutsvangwa, who is special advisor to the President, declared that Morgan Tsvangirai demanded to be appointed as Vice President in the top hierarchy. “President Mnangagwa wanted to pick some MDC-T members for ministerial posts, but held back after the party’s leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to expel from his party prospective appointees unless the opposition leader was himself given a post in the presidium.” He said.
President Mnangagwa’s offer to appoint some members of the MDCT in his cabinet is the best example of responsible leadership. For some strange reason, the leader of the opposition threatened to fire the appointed members of his party if he was not appointed in the presidium. His argument is probably based on the fact of their participation in the march of 18 November 2017. But to be fair to the opposition and its leadership, it is not unreasonable to suppose that their participation in the recent escapades deserved some sort of recognition considering their unwavering cooperation – but certainly not the kind of representation being sought by the opposition leader – Morgan Tsvangirai.
But let us consider one fundamental question of ‘entitlement’: Is Morgan Tsvangirai ‘entitled’ to demand a place in the presidium? Well, by virtue of any constitutional interpretation, neither the MDCT nor Morgan Tsvangirai in his political capacity, has any legal entitlement to be in the new government let alone its presidium. In simple terms, one cannot demand what they are not constitutionally entitled to. Perhaps their only entitlement is to participate in the general elections scheduled to be held by August 21 2018, when the national legislative assembly’s five-year term expires, according to section 158 of the new Constitution.
In any case, the events leading the swearing in of President Mnangagwa were entirely constitutional. Section 101 of the Zimbabwe Constitution stipulates that succession takes place in the event of death, resignation or incapacity of the president. Although, according to the Zanu-PF constitution, Vice President Mphoko was expected to assume office following the involuntary resignation of former president Robert Mugabe, the reality was that Mphoko’s political mischief had also become a national security threat – thus deeming his expulsion permissible too. Through the central committee, Zanu-PF unanimously nominated Emmerson Mnangagwa as its representative to take over from Zimbabwe’s only executive leader since Independence 37 years ago.
Morgan Tsvangirai’s alleged demands can also be viewed in light of his absolute obsession with power. There are some important considerations in that regard: firstly that Morgan Tsvangirai has already been Prime Minister between 2009 and 2013 during the GNU arrangement – secondly that he is not feeling particularly well to be seeking another term in office and thirdly that he has repeatedly amended MDCT’s constitution in-order to remain in power thereby compromising his supposed commitment to true democracy.
In any case, it is complex to ascertain the actual numbers of opposition members who participated in the march as being the majority – as widely appealed. Even if it were the case, their solidarity in the march is not sufficient to warrant any constitutional involvement in the new cabinet. That Morgan Tsvangirai allegedly demanded to be Vice President was the best exhibition of egocentric conduct.
Presented with an opportunity for some members of the MDCT to serve their country probably for the last time, considering that the MDCT’s prospects of winning the next elections will depend on President Mnangagwa’s performance in the next few months, Morgan Tsvangirai permitted self-indulgence to creep in. Alas, until the next elections, Cabinet appointments or dismissals are, exclusively, President Mnangagwa’s prerogative.