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Chiwenga resists chanting ‘ED2030’ campaign slogan

VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga on Thursday resisted chanting a slogan which has become the rallying call for extending President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule by two years beyond the constitutional limit.




VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga on Thursday resisted chanting a slogan which has become the rallying call for extending President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule by two years beyond the constitutional limit.

In a show of defiance, Chiwenga openly avoided chanting “2030 VaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo” (2030 President Mnangagwa will still be ruling) during a Zanu PF gathering in Chikomba, Mashonaland East province.

The incident bewildered Mnangwagwa’s loyalists present, among them John Paradza, the deputy minister of Environment, who had earlier on enthusiastically chanted the strongman’s pro-2030 slogan.

The Zanu PF deputy youth secretary explicitly chanted: “2030 VaMnangagwa vanenge vachitonga”, meaning “in 2030 Mnangagwa will still be ruling”.

As if to confirm his controversial 2030 ambition, Mnangagwa raised his fist in agreement while Paradza chanted the slogan.

When Chiwenga’s turn came, the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander instead chanted “Forward with Zanu PF, forward with President Mnangagwa, forward with unity, forward with vision of the party, down with the enemy.”

This was despite Chiwenga being introduced to the crowd by Mnangagwa and being asked to chant a slogan.

Chiwenga has not chanted the 2030 slogan and his allies say he will not do that because he is firmly opposed to Mnangagwa extending his rule beyond the end of his second term in 2028, his constitutional limit.

Zanu PF supporters say Mnangagwa wants to extend his stay in power to 2030 — beyond his constitutionally stipulated second term and Zanu PF intends to amend the law to deharmonise elections and push the presidential poll to 2030, but have parliamentary elections when due in 2028, or alternatively postpone the general elections altogether to 2030.

Mnangagwa recently abandoned the idea of a third term after experiencing fierce internal resistance mounted by Chiwenga and his military-backed Zanu PF faction.

In terms of the constitution, extending a presidential term limit would require amending section 91, 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 subsection three or more years’ service is deemed to be a full term.”

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. Section 158 of the constitution of Zimbabwe says a general election (harmonised election) must be held so that polling takes place not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five-year period of Parliament which runs from the date on which the president-elect is sworn in and assumes office.

For instance, Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018. The 30-day period before the expiry of the presidential term ran from 27 July to 26 August 2023, which was why elections were held on 23/24 August 2023. After that, Mnangagwa was sworn in on 4 September 2023.

The next elections are due anytime between 5 July 2028 and 4 August 2028. Section 143 of the constitution deals with three circumstances on how Parliament is dissolved:

By twothirds of the National Assembly and Senate sitting and voting separately (self-propelled dissolution); by the President’s intervention if it refuses to pass an Appropriation Bill without good reason or by operation of the law, when its term automatically expires. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga Zanu PF insiders say the de-harmonisation of the elections process offers Mnangagwa a better chance to extend his rule without going through elections compared to a third term. T hat is more appealing to him than the third term political option which could present him with nightmares, sources say. Mnangagwa said recently he does not want a third term. Previously, he told the state-controlled ZTN television channel before last year’s elections: “I am going for my second term . . . this is my last term.” But in a twist of events, his Zanu PF loyalists in Masvingo province introduced the slogan “ 2030 Mnangagwa will still be there”. They were soon followed by the Midlands province where Mnangagwa’s staunch loyalist, Owen Ncube, the resident minister of state, is leading the onslaught. T here are now  attempts to spread the mantra to Chiwenga’s province, Mashonaland East. Chiwenga is anxiously waiting to take over from Mnangagwa who is now serving his second term after reneging on their 2017 coup deal to run only one term and retire. Mnangagwa should have served from 2018 to 2023, leaving Chiwenga to come in. However, soon after the coup internal contradictions emerged and the whole plan began to unravel. Mnangagwa initially wanted an inclusive arrangement after the coup, which is why he sent an emissary to the political bigwig Dumiso Dabengwa, now late, to join his government. He tried to leave Chiwenga out of the state power structure or the presidency by appointing Kembo Mohadi and Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as his two deputies when he announced his cabinet after the military seized power from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe. Muchinguri-Kashiri was informed of her appointment and she was in the process of arranging a celebration party, but Chiwenga moved in and took the position. At the same time, Chiwenga seized some critical ministries from Mohadi. After the coup, on 30 November 2017, Mohadi was appointed minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans by Mnangagwa. He was named vice-president of Zanu PF on 23 December 2017 before being sworn in as co-Vice-President of Zimbabwe on 28 December 2017. However, after that Mnangagwa was forced to make sudden changes. Mohadi was removed and put in charge of the National Peace and Reconciliation portfolio, while Chiwenga took over Defence and War Veterans, powerful security portfolios. T he assignments were with immediate effect. T hen acting Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Justin Mupamhanga announced: “In terms of Section 99 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe may assign functions to Vice-Presidents to assist him or her in the discharge of his or her functions and perform any other functions, including the administration of any Ministry or Department or Act of Parliament. “Accordingly, His Excellency the President, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa, has duly assigned Honourable Vice-President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga to administer the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs. Honourable Vice-President Kembo Campbell Dugishi Mohadi will administer the National Peace and Reconciliation portfolio.” T he following year — 2018, after the elections which sanitised the coup — Chiwenga and his allies were shocked at the Zanu PF annual conference at Esigodini to learn and witness a political spectacle: “Mnangagwa for 2023”. Now it is “Mnangagwa for 2030”. Chiwenga and his army allies have moved to stymie it. But Mnangagwa and his faction are not giving up. With the third term blocked, they have a new plan to amend the constitution to de-harmonise the general elections and the presidential poll, which serves their agenda. If their plot succeeds, parliamentary elections will be held as due in 2028, but presidential polls — which previously fell two years after the others — can follow in 2030. T his will be a throw-back of the failed 2005 plan when Mugabe started to contemplate on how he would extend his rule from 2008 to 2010 outside an election. He wanted to avoid the 2008 presidential election by moving it to 2010 when parliamentary polls were due under the name of harmonisation. Senior Zanu PF officials opposed to the move leaked the story to a Zimbabwe Independent journalist at the time. The journalist is now with The NewsHawks.

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