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Mnangagwa pampered MPs, ministers for political survival
President Emmerson Mnangagwa greets supporters of his ruling ZANU PF party gather for an election rally in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC1A80283490


Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 2030 plot isn’t easy to implement



POLITICAL analysts have warned that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to de-harmonise elections in 2028 in order to rule until 2030 will not be an easy plan to implement just like a third term bid as it will likely face resistance from both within and outside Zanu PF.


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

Together with his close political allies, they are now weighing the best constitutional and legal options to secure an additional two years in power outside an election when his second term elapses in 2028 — without going the third term route.

 However, political analysts who spoke to The NewsHawks said the idea could go up in smoke.

Academic and publisher Professor Ibbo Mandaza said due to the current political dynamics in the country, Mnangagwa will face hurdles in the bid of deharmonising the 2028 elections.

“He may try, but it will be hardly possible to pull it through,” he said. Asked what difficulties Mnangagwa may face, Mandaza said: “A massive implosion in party/state, and possibly his ignominious demise.”

University of Zimbabwe-based political scientist Professor Eldred Masunungure said Mnangagwa’s plan would be a “strategic blunder” and will face hurdles right from the stage of amending the constitution since the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) faction led by self-imposed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu will see no benefit from the move that will certainly end their political careers if elections for Parliament are held in 2028 and presidential polls in 2030.

 A constitutional amendment needs a two thirds majority in both the National Assembly and the Senate, and Zanu PF will find it difficult to marshal the required numbers.

 As previously explained by political scientist Dr Phillan Zamchiya, this is because in the Senate, Zanu PF does not and cannot have a two-thirds majority during the tenure of the current Parliament.

This is because the proportional representatives in Senate are based on the 23-24 August 2023 general election outcome where some seats were held by the opposition CCC.

Consequently, the opposition recalls by Tshabangu could not help Zanu PF in getting a two-thirds majority in Parliament necessary to pass a constitutional amendment on its own because the party that recalls simply fills the vacancy with its members.

 There are therefore no by-elections in the Senate. Masunungure said the status quo will therefore affect Mnangagwa’s plan to de-harmonise elections because Tshabangu MPs will see elections for Parliament in 2028 as an end to their political carreers.

“First of all, I think this scenario, like the full third term or the extended second term — for both the President and Parliament — would require a constitutional amendment. But it’s a move that could be a strategic blunder in that the Tshabangu-aligned parliamentarians — whether in the National Assembly or Senate — would have no incentive to go for elections, given the manner in which they wormed their way into the legislature. They would be almost certain of signing their death certificate in the 2028 parliamentary elections and not many of them seem to exhibit suicidal tendencies,” he said.

Masunungure said the only way Mnangagwa could stay longer in power through a constitutional amendment does not lie in de-harmonising elections but postponing them all to 2030 and “absorbing” Tshabangu MPs.

“However, there could be more to this proposal than meets the naked eye and one scenario is where Zanu PF ‘absorbs’ or adopts the Tshabangu parliamentary crew, assuring it of full backing by not contesting their candidates in the constituency-based elections. This could be part of the secret and opaque negotiations that the media has recently reported on.

“In short, pushing all the components — presidential, parliamentary and local government — of the harmonised elections to 2030 would be a big incentive to all parliamentarians who would also have their parliamentary lifespan extended. It would be like a win-win game for the political gladiators,” he said.

 Political analyst Vivid Gwede the plan to de-harmonise elections faces a hurdle in that it does not benefit MPs, not even those in Zanu PF.

“It appears that the President or his allies want to facilitate a longer stay for him in power than the current Constitutional position allows. These attempts will be opposed both within and outside Zanu-PF, probably uniting unlikely bedfellows like what we saw at the end of Mugabe’s reign. This is besides the fact that the constitution is a significant hindrance to this plan. If MPs are not benefitting from the plan, they will also have no incentive to support it. These constant rumours about plans to stay in power will also affect the government’s effort to turn around the economy. Investors do not want that uncertainty,” he said.

 Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said the plan to de-harmonise elections could only benefit Mnangagwa and may be used to cement future election-rigging mechanisms.

“It would give Mnangagwa two more years in office. That might be a compromise so that he doesn’t campaign for a second full term. Also, it achieves some distance between parliamentary and presidential outcomes, and removes any pressing need to have the results of both congruent in terms of voter preferences. This may give flexibility to any seeking ‘adjustments’ to the final votes,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s allies such as Midlands minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Owen Ncube have been constantly chanting the slogan “2030 VaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo (2030 Mr Mnangagwa will still be there), laying bare the plan to extend his rule beyond 2028.

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