Zanu PF is not interested in any coalition talks with the MDC Alliance because it has total control of Parliament and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy is not under any threat, a senior ruling party official has said.
News in depth BY VENERANDA LANGA
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (MPM), the Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, told our senior reporter Veneranda Langa (VL) in an exclusive interview that Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling against MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa’s election petition had emboldened Mnangagwa.
He said there was no need for Zanu PF to negotiate with Chamisa for any role in government because the ruling party had a clear mandate.
Mangwana said the election petition was a waste of time and the ruling party had nothing to learn from it. Below are excerpts from the interview.
VL: What is your assessment of Nelson Chamisa’s Constitutional Court election petition? Did Zanu PF draw any lessons from it?
MPM: The thing is that the Constitutional Court challenge had no merits at all because our electoral laws provide for an opportunity to recount votes, and if they had problems with the number of votes allocated to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, they would have been expected to make an appeal to have the recount of the votes.
Their whole case had no basis. They were talking of about 40 000 teachers that were unable to vote, but they did not produce evidence, and it did not mean that they were going to vote for Chamisa.
I think they went to the ConCourt because they wanted relevance, or even to enjoy money from the international community.
For Zanu PF, the whole test was useless because it had no basis. The lessons learnt are not for Zanu PF, but probably to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
The only lesson we should draw from that is that we should campaign harder and win resoundingly next time because the MDC Alliance was taking advantage of the slender margin we had to think that they should have been victorious.
We now need to sell our presidential candidate in a stronger way and ensure that in the future he wins by the same margin like in the parliamentary elections.
VL: South African lawyer Dali Mpofu says you boasted to him that you drafted the law that was used to bar him from representing Chamisa in court. What is your reaction to that?
MPM: No, I did not block Dali and his colleagues from representing Chamisa. He applied for permission to practice law in this country too late.
They were aware that there were 21 days to go if they wanted to appear in court, and why did they make the application 26 hours before the hearing?
Mpofu should be more organised because Zimbabwe is not a banana republic. He should know that and respect our systems and policies.
He is not the first lawyer to practice within our jurisdiction, but they did not follow procedures and they should blame themselves.
Whether the MDC Alliance had hired lawyers from Mars or whatever planet, they were still going to lose.
I am not the regulatory authority in this country. They were supposed to make an application to the Council for Legal Education, which determines whether someone had the necessary qualifications to practice law in Zimbabwe, and I am not that council.
Unfortunately, he submitted late. Zimbabwe has rules and laws to be adhered to and I cannot also walk to South Africa to practice law.
I should first be registered and Dali should know that.
VL: Was the decision to bar the South African lawyers not an infringement of Chamisa’s rights to have legal counsel of his choice?
MPM: No, it was not an infringement because Zimbabwe is not short of local lawyers. Why hire foreigners when our children need jobs?
Our local lawyers representing Chamisa put up a good fight, but they lost, and that is why I said even if they had hired lawyers from Mars, they would not have won.
We do not have to hire foreign lawyers when we have our own local talent.
VL: On the eve of the court judgement, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was quoted saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s position would not be changed by the courts. How did he know that before the ruling?
MPM: He was simply saying those words from a personal assessment. There was no way that the court could change the verdict of the people.
It was just a statement of confidence because I had discussed with my leadership to tell them that our chances of winning were 99%, and he was expressing my opinion as the party lawyer.
VL: Why was Zanu PF making preparations for Mnangagwa’s inauguration before the ConCourt ruling?
MPM: We continued to make preparations because we are a positive party. We do not go into a battle with the intention of losing it. That is how we won the liberation struggle.
I said to the leaders, we are winning and please continue making preparations because there is no way we can lose, and so prepare for victory because it is certain.
That is the Zanu PF mantra. We had seen a lot of challenges facing the MDC Alliance and that there was no way they could win the case.
VL: Now that Chamisa has rejected the ConCourt ruling, is Zanu PF not worried about prospects of a legitimacy crisis?
MPM: Chamisa is not the people of Zimbabwe. He does not own the country and so his opinion does not matter for us.
It is the people that voted Mnangagwa and gave Zanu PF a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The issue of legitimacy is that it is legitimacy for the people of Zimbabwe who elected him to be president.
VL: Are there any formal or informal talks between Zanu PF and MDC Alliance to resolve their differences?
MPM: We do not need to talk to them because we have the mandate to rule from the people of Zimbabwe. They can go to hang.
People elected Mnangagwa as president. He is the father of the nation, and he wants his children to live in peace.
The president did not offer the MDC Alliance a coalition government.
VL: Is there any likelihood of Mnangagwa including people from outside Zanu PF in his new Cabinet?
MPM: I cannot speak on the president’s behalf. I do not know, but Mnangagwa is a father and knows his children can differ.
We cannot rule anything out, but all I can say is that he is a magnanimous character.
VL: Almost a year after the new administration came into power, there isn’t much that has been done to align the country’s laws to the new constitution.
What assurances can you give Zimbabweans that Mnangagwa’s government will stick to its promises to reform?
MPM: That is your opinion. A lot has been done and any outstanding work will be dealt with speedily.
VL: Since Zanu PF now enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament, what changes to the constitution are you likely to push for in the near future?
MPM: I am the Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs and before the Justice minister moves for any changes to laws or the constitution it first goes before the party.
Right now, I do not have anything that shows that there is likely to be changes to the constitution.
I also do not have any idea yet of laws that will be brought before Parliament.
We will first sit down and discuss with the Justice minister, and all laws that are being said will be brought before Parliament like changing the age limit for presidential candidates are just rumours that were never discussed by the party.
There were 400 laws that were supposed to be aligned to the constitution, and for those that are yet to be aligned we will look at them and speed up alignment.