VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika and eight ministers currently in parliament on the basis of President Robert Mugabe’s benevolence will have to co
ntest and win next year’s legislative polls if they are to retain their seats in cabinet.
Msika, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mines minister Amos Midzi, Water Resources minister Munacho Mutezo, Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Small Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni, Indigenisation minister Paul Mangwana and Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi are in parliament courtesy of their appointment as non-constituency MPs by Mugabe.
But with Mugabe’s assent to Constitutional Amendment No 18 last week, Msika and the eight ministers will have to contest and win next year’s polls — a move Zanu PF sources said would be a Herculean task for most of the Zanu PF bigwigs.
The sources said some of the ministers would fall by the wayside next year judging by their performances in previous elections.
Amendment No 18 abolished the posts of non-constituency legislators with effect from next year.
The membership of the House of Assembly will be increased to 210 from 150.
All the MPs will be directly elected by voters registered in the 210 constituencies to be delimitated by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
This entails that everyone who was appointed by Mugabe during the life of the current parliament as a non-constituency lawmaker should find a constituency, contest and win it if he or she entertains ambitions to remain in the House.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe states that for one to be a vice-president or minister, he or she must be an MP.
“There are strong fears that Msika, Mnangagwa, Midzi, Nyoni and Ndlovu would not make it into parliament next year,” one of the sources said. “Mnangagwa, Midzi, Ndlovu and Nyoni contested in the 2005 parliamentary polls in urban constituencies and lost. The same scenario is expected next year.”
Msika and Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo have not contested any election since 2000 arguing that they are national leaders.
However, the reason by the former PF Zapu stalwarts was dismissed amid assertions that Msika and Nkomo no longer commanded support in Matabeleland and were afraid of being humiliated by the MDC.
Mnangagwa, Midzi, Nyoni and Ndlovu have repeatedly lost parliamentary elections since 2000 to the MDC, while Mugabe invited Mumbengegwi into politics after the 2005 legislative election.
Before then Mumbengegwi was Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.
In the 2000 and 2005 polls, Mnangagwa lost the Kwekwe seat to the MDC’s Blessing Chebundo, while Ndlovu was twice hammered by the opposition party’s Milton Gwetu in Mpopoma.
Midzi lost the Hatfield seat to the MDC’s Tapiwa Mashakada in the 2005 general election, while Nyoni was wallopped in 2000 by the opposition’s vice-president Thokozani Khupe in Makokoba and five years later she lost to David Coltart in Bulawayo South.
The Zanu PF sources said some of the affected ministers were contemplating contesting the elections in rural constituencies where the ruling party enjoys massive support.
“Mnangagwa is likely to contest in one of the two constituencies in Gokwe, Mangwana in Chivi North and Nyoni is eyeing a constituency in Matabeleland North,” another source said. “The outcome of the delimitation exercise will give a guide to the affected ministers to select ‘safe’ constituencies.”
A Zanu PF senior official told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Msika was not going to contest in any election next year, but would be appointed by Mugabe to the Senate as one of the five senators the head of state must select.
“Why would Msika contest?” the official questioned. “President Mugabe will simply have to appoint him into the Senate. Other ministers have to fight it out in the constituencies — from the party’s primary elections to the proper ones next year. That is the name of the game.”
Mugabe, the source said, was also expected to appoint Nkomo, Joshua Malinga, Aguy Georgios and Kantibai Patel to the Senate. Beginning next year, the membership of the Senate will go up to 93 from 66.
The Senate will be made up of six senators per province directly elected by voters registered in the 60 senatorial constituencies and 10 provincial governors appointed by the president.
The president and deputy president of the Council of Chiefs, 16 chiefs — being two chiefs from each provinces other than metropolitan provinces — and five senators appointed by the head-of-state would comprise the Senate.