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Army blocks Mnangagwa’s ambitious third term plans



ZIMBABWEAN Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and the military’s post-election political strategy blocked President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s third-term ambitions.


This forced him to come out clean to say he will not seek to manipulate the constitution to hang onto power as demanded by his supporters.

Mnangagwa sidelined the army during last year’s general elections and used the state security service, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)-run Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), to win the polls, fearing internal sabotage. However, military commanders always said behind the scenes after the elections Mnangagwa and Faz would be stopped in their tracks.

Now his CIO-driven project has come unstuck, grinding to a screeching halt as the army backs Chiwenga to take over. Chiwenga recently influenced key military appointments, including that of his closest ally Lieutenant-General Anselem Sanyatwe as Zimbabwe National Army commander. Mnangagwa had in 2019 removed Sanyatwe and posted him to Tanzania as ambassador amid purges of the military in the aftermath of the 2017 military coup which first brought him to power.

Although Chiwenga showed his clear intention to become the next Zimbabwean president during his high-profile wedding to Miniyothabo Baloyi last December more than at any other time before, Mnangagwa did not give up his push for a third term by proxy. He did it while leaving room for political plausible deniability.

Clearly, he has been giving mixed signals about it. Until recently, Mnangagwa tried to use Zanu PF youths to push for a third term, saying he will still be there in 2030 — the same approach they used in 2018 for him to seek re-election in 2023. Their campaign for a third term was open and Mnangagwa did not distance himself from it until it became clear that it would be politically ill-fated to do so.

Having tested the waters and found them dangerously deep, Mnangagwa is now beating a hasty retreat while posturing as a stickler for the constitution and rule of law. Yet his re-election was riddled with unconstitutional issues and illegalities.

With Chiwenga on the political ascendancy, backed by the army, Mnangagwa says he does not have intentions of running for a third term.

He says there is “no iota of evidence” where the ruling Zanu PF has pushed for something that violates the constitution. Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy that abides by the dictates of the law.

In an exclusive question-and-answer interview with Brick by Brick magazine editors Munyaradzi Huni and Baffour Ankomah, Mnangagwa denied third-term ambitions. “Well, I am very happy that Zimbabweans are very imaginative,” he said.

“They can imagine about anything, which shows there is democracy in the country, you see.
“But we in Zanu PF are very democratic and we obey the constitution.

“There is not an iota of evidence where Zanu PF or I, as President, has ever expressed the violation of our constitution. But we allow people to dream properly or widely. They will still wake up and find things are working and the constitution hasn’t changed.”

In terms of the constitution, extending presidential term limits would require amending section 91 of the constitution, which disqualifies a person “for election as President or appointment as Vice-President if he or she has already held office as President for two terms, whether continuous or not, and for the purpose of this sub-section three or more years’ service is deemed to be a full term”.

Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds parliamnetray majority, which Zanu PF now has through the backdoor in the National Assembly and technically in the Senate, courtesy to opposition political impostor Sengezo Tshabangu and goons behind him.

However, section 328 (7) bars an incumbent from benefitting from such a constitutional change. It says: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an amendment to a term-limit provision the effect of which is to extend the length of time that a person may hold or occupy any public office, does not apply in relation to any person who held or occupied that office, or an equivalent office, at any time before the amendment.”

This means such a change can only benefit future presidents.

Besides, section 328 (7) can only be amended through a referendum as set out under section 328 (9) of the constitution.

Previously, Mnangagwa told ZTN Prime before last year’s elections: “I am going for my second term . . . this is my last term.”

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