“HISTORY repeats itself”, so says the old adage. This article presents the interesting story of two former Presidents of their respective countries, who were both removed from power by their own political parties, by way of being forced to resign. They are, respectively, President Aboud Jumbe Mwinyi of Zanzibar, (1972 to 1984); and President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe, (1980 to 2017.
The respective events. In February, 1984, President Aboud Jumbe of Zanzibar, was firmly and unequivocally told (read forced) by his political party, Chama cha Mapinduzi( (CCM) to resign from that position, as well as his other positions as Vice-President of the United Republic, and Vice- Chairman of CCM.
Similarly, in November 2017, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe, was equally firmly and unequivocally told (read forced) by his political party ZANU-PF, to resign from his position as President of that country, having earlier been stripped of his other position as President of that party.
The methodology of removing both these Presidents from power appears to be the same, that is to say, they were forced to resign; but the similarity ends there. It ends there simply because the other factors which led to their downfall, including the ‘crimes’ which were allegedly committed by each of them; and the circumstances and conditions under which this disciplinary action was taken against them, are totally different.
This is the subject matter for discussion in today’s article, in which we will examine the ‘crimes’ allegedly committed by the said Presidents that led to their removal from power, the methodology used for removing them, as well as the circumstances under which such action was taken against these leaders.
Their ‘crimes’ were different. Whereas President Aboud Jumbe was accused of attempting to commit a breach of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania; Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s crime had no relation to a breach of that country’s Constitution. His only crime was the blatant disregard of the cherished principles embodied in the concept of ‘leadership ethics’.
The case of President Aboud Jumbe. President Aboud Jumbe’s ‘crime’ was his attempt to commit a breach of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977, regarding the sensitive matter of the “structure of the Union”.
The said Constitution provides, in its article 4 (1) and 4(2), for a structure of two governments, namely the Union Government, and the Government of Zanzibar, in the following words:- Article 4 (1): “Shughuli zote za mamlaka ya nchi katika Jamhuri ya Muungano zitatekelezwa na kudhibitiwa na vyombo viwili vyenye mamlaka ya utendaji”. This is clarified in article 4 (2), which provides that “Vyombo vyenye mamlaka ya utendaji vitakuwa ni Serikali ya Jamhuri ya Muungano, na Serikali ya Mapinduzi ya Zanzibar”.
In his determined attempt to breach these provisions of the Constitution, President Aboud Jumbe had decided to secretly prepare certain constitutional amendments which would introduce a third government in the Union structure, which was to be a new Government of Tanganyika.
The project is assumed to have been done secretly because he had apparently undertaken that task alone, without involving the relevant organs of the party, namely the Central Committee, and the National Executive Committee, plus, even more serious, he had avoided consultation with the relevant constitutional organs of the Union Government, specifically the President of the United Republic, and the Attorney- General’s office.
This was a fatal mistake, because the President of the United Republic is the person who is required by his oath of office “to uphold and protect the Constitution as by law established”. Hence, Zanzibar President Jumbe’s attempt to conceal his project of amending the Constitution from the Union President , was absolutely fatal.
He had secretly embarked on his adventure into amending the Constitution by appointing a new Attorney-General for Zanzibar, a constitutional expert from Ghana, to help him to undertake the task of drafting the proposed constitutional amendments.
His project had proceeded quite well, and the proposed draft had in fact been completed, when news of this secret project became known to Mwalimu Nyerere, President of the United Republic and national Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
The secret draft had apparently been ‘stolen’ from Aboud Jumbe’s office and delivered to President Nyerere, who appeared to have been appalled by Jumbe’s action, and therefore decided to stop him. In his capacity as Party Chairman, Mwalimu Nyerere directed that the matter of President Jumbe’s action be placed on the agenda of the following ordinary meeting of the CCM National Executive Committee, which had been scheduled for in February 1984.
The matter was duly discussed at the said meeting. In his capacity as the Zanzibar CCM Vice-Chairman, President Jumbe was also ex-officio member of NEC, and was thus present at the meeting. I was there too, and can reveal that the atmosphere therein was unusually tense and totally unprecedented.
When the ‘prosecution’ had completed presenting the case against him, he was given the opportunity to present his side of the story. Initially, he denied having undertaken such project, whereupon the secret draft which had been ‘stolen’ from his office was shown to him, and he was asked if he was prepared to deny knowledge of that document.
It was such incriminating evidence that there was no way he could deny it. He was therefore ‘found guilty’, and ordered to resign. To his great credit, he responded immediately by accepting to resign, not only from the Zanzibar Presidency, but also from his other positions as Vice-President of the United Republic, and that of Vice- Chairman of CCM. He must be given credit for having taken this honourable ‘exit route’, which earned him a lot of praise and respect.
His dignified response clearly distinguishes him from Zimbabwe President Mugabe who, as we shall see below, initially tried to offer unreasonable resistance by refusing to resign, until he was forced into doing so through other pressures which he could not possibly resist, specifically the prospect of his impeachment by Parliament, which loomed large. The case of President Robert Mugabe.
As was observed above, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s case is distinguishable from that of Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe, in a number of significant respects. In the first place, Mugabe’s apparent ‘crime’ has been stated as “an attempt to secure his family dynasty”, by making open preparations for his wife Grace to succeed him as President of Zimbabwe when he himself ceases to hold that office.
The most transparent move in that direction was his sacking of Vice- President Emerson Mnangagwa, who was seen by many in Zimbabwe as the rightful successor to President Mugabe. This was, essentially, a breach not of the Constitution, but of the leadership code of ethics, which is equally detestable.
Secondly, Unlike Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe who meekly and readily accepted his party’s order to resign, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe defiantly resisted a similar order from his ZANU-PF party for more than a week, wrestling to remain in power, even in the face of intensifying pressure being piled on him to quit, not only from stakeholders inside Zimbabwe, but also from outside that country, specifically from the Southern Africa regional bloc, and from Zambia, who both announced they were dispatching high-level dignitaries to Harare to try and persuade Mugabe to resign. He did finally agree to do so, but only after the country’s Parliament had started the process of removing him from power forcibly, through the rather painful impeachment process.
Thirdly, unlike the case of Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe, whose resignation was accompanied by general sympathy and public understanding, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s resignation was followed by countrywide jubilation. It was reported by the news media that his resignation announcement “was greeted on the streets of the capital Harare with car horns and wild cheering”, a clear indication that the majority of the people there were very happy to see him go.
Thus consciously or unconsciously, he had made one unforgivable mistake of sacking Vice- President Mnangagwa in order to position his wife Grace as his successor, and this is what apparently triggered fury in the army, and caused all the other steps taken against him, which followed shortly thereafter, eventually leading to his downfall from power.
As I said in my article last week, President Mugabe had, unconsciously, been captured in the fishnet of “the ethics avoidance syndrome’; which should be a good lesson to other leaders; that they should never allow themselves to be caught in this ‘fishnet’ of the “ethics avoidance syndrome”.
A relevant lesson also for Constitution makers. Perhaps this could also be regarded as a lesson for law makers who enact Constitutions, when it comes to the issue of the powers to be allocated to the President by the Constitution, and in particular, the President’s power to appoint the Vice-President, in jurisdictions where such posts are provided for in their Constitutions.
The relevant lesson is based on the proposition that “if Zimbabwe had a Constitution which denies power to the President to remove the Vice- President from office, President Mugabe would not have committed the costly mistake of sacking Vice- President Mnangagwa, which led to his downfall”. Indeed, this proposition is not entirely theoretical, since there are countries in the world which have that kind of Constitution in place, including Kenya, Tanzania, and several others.
Article 47 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania provides as follows:- “Makamu wa Rais atapatikana kwa kuchaguliwa katika uchaguzi ule ule kwa pamoja na Rais, baada ya kupendekezwa na Chama chake cha siasa wakati ule ule anapoteuliwa mgombea Kiti cha Rais, na watapigiwa kura kwa pamoja. Mgombea Kiti cha Rais akichaguliwa, basi na Makamu wa Rais atakuwa amechaguliwa”.
In these circumstances, the President has no power to remove the Vice-President from office, who thus has a guaranteed leadership period of five years, that is to say, until the next general election. It should be noted, however, that this provision was included in our Constitution only after the transition to multi-party politics in 1992.
Previous Constitutions had provisions similar to that of Zimbabwe, whereby the Vice-President was appointed by the President and, consequently, could at any time be sacked by the appointing authority.
But this power was severely restricted by another provision of the same Constitution, which required that the Zanzibar President shall also be appointed Vice-President of the Union. It would be impossible for the Union President to sack an elected Zanzibar Vice- President.
The advent of multi-party politics changed this arrangement. This is a matter which actively engaged the minds of our lawmakers at the material time. This is because the results of the 1995 general election in Zanzibar had produced a scenario which pointed to a distinct possibility of the Opposition CUF party winning the Zanzibar Presidency at an early date thereafter.
The results showed that CCM had only won by a razorthin majority of 50.2 percent; while CUF had obtained 49.8 percent of the votes. On the other hand, CCM had won the Union Presidency by a comfortable 61.8 percent.
Such a situation, where Zanzibar had a CUF President while the Union President was from CCM, would automatically create a coalition of two parties in the Union Government. This was deemed undesirable, because ruling coalitions are normally negotiated between parties which are willing to form such an alliance.
Coalitions should NOT be created by a fiat of the Constitution, because such forced alliance would create difficulties in the operations of the Union Government. It was therefore necessary to find a solution, and the obvious one was to separate the office of the Zanzibar President from that of the Union Vice- President.
This was achieved through the Eleventh Amendment to the Union Constitution, which was designed to ensure that both the Union President and the Zanzibar President would be members of the same political party.
That is how the ‘running mate’ procedure was introduced for Presidential elections. And this, as we have seen above, denies power to the President to sack the Vice- President.Add a comment