Having nominated President Robert Mugabe for re-election, Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party pressed on Friday with day two of an extraordinary congress amid charges, published in a Harare newspaper, that the nomination of Mr. Mugabe was staged by his designated successor and violated ZANU-PF's own party constitution.
Unnamed ruling party dissenters told the Independent, a Harare weekly newspaper, that the nomination of Mr. Mugabe on Thursday was "unconstitutional and fraudulent" and that his loyalists used intimidation to quell any resistance to his candidacy.
The Independent said the endorsement of Mr. Mugabe as the party's candidate in the presidential election set for March was made under Article 6, Section 30, Paragraph 3 of the party constitution, but said the clause allows a conference, not a congress, to declare the president elected at the previous congress the party’s candidate.
In other words, only a "people's conference" could do what was done Thursday - at least according to the interpretation offered by the Independent's sources. The paper said the issue was discussed by the ZANU-PF politburo in October and November and that the procedure used to nominate Mr. Mugabe was “carefully crafted” by favored Mugabe successor and party legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it appeared some coercion was involved in nominating Mr. Mugabe as there are dissenters to his selection.
There was an uproar within the congress Friday as when delegates booed the party's national chairman, John Nkomo, and Vice President Joseph Msika, for challenging the credentials of prominent war veteran Jabulani Sibanda, a major Mugabe backer.
The two officials said he had been suspended as chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association. President Mugabe had to intervene as the congress protested the officials' efforts to keep Sibanda off the podium.
Reporter Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe provided an account of the congress fight over the standing of Sibanda, long a ZANU-PF lightning rod.