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Witch-hunt to crush dissent to 2030 unconstitutional bid

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s plot to rule until 2030 despite a constitutional two-term limit to 2028 is thickening amid a witch-hunt to flush out senior Zanu PF officials and ministers who are not backing the plan.




PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s plot to rule until 2030 despite a constitutional two-term limit to 2028 is thickening amid a witch-hunt to flush out senior Zanu PF officials and ministers who are not backing the plan.

Mnangagwa’s constitutional second term ends in 2028, but he wants to cling onto power until 2030 through the back door.

Zanu PF officials and ministers are now being publicly tested and asked to pledge loyalty by chanting party slogans which should include “ED 2030” if they want to pass the assessment.

Those who do not shout that slogan are marked as “mhandu” or enemies supporting Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s presidential ambition.

This campaign started in earnest in Masvingo, went to the Midlands, Mashonaland East and will now accelerate into other provinces as Mnangagwa inexorably pushes for an extended stay in power.

The witch-hunt plot came to light during the commissioning of 17 schools constructed by the government in partnership with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) at Makumimavi Primary School in Chikomba West.

Before introducing Primary Education minister Torerai Moyo, Mnangagwa said going forward he would be testing ministers to see if they can chant a Zanu PF slogan.

Moyo did and chanted the “ED 2030” slogan followed by his deputy Angeline Gata who did the same, much to the amusement of Mnangagwa.

“Her [Gata] days [in government] have been increased,” Mnangagwa remarked after Gata had chanted the “ED 2030” slogan.

However, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga resisted the slogan “2030 VaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo” (2030 President Mnangagwa will still be ruling).

He did so while Mnangagwa watched after he had introduced him to chant a slogan soon after introducing him to the mostly rented crowd.

Chiwenga has not chanted the mantra 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 that is the height of his constitutional limit.

In chanting the slogan, Chiwenga said: “Forward with Zanu PF, Forward with President Mnangagwa, Forward with unity, Forward with the vision of the party, down with the enemy.”

Before him, Mnangagwa allies such as Zanu PF deputy youth secretary and deputy Environment minister John Paradza  had explicitly chanted the “2030 VaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo”.

In response, for the first time, Mnangagwa raised his fist to acknowledge the slogan that says he will be ruling in 2030.

Mnangagwa wants to extend his stay in power to 2030 — beyond his legal second term and Zanu PF intends to amend the law to de-harmonise elections and push the presidential poll to 2030, but have parliamentary elections when due in 2028, or alternatively postpone 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 President Emmerson Mnangagwa 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 from 5 July 2028 to 4 August 2028.

Section 143 of the constitution deals with three circumstances how Parliament is dissolved: By two-thirds 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.

Zanu PF insiders say the de-harmonisation of 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 nightmare, sources say.

Mnangagwa said recently he does not want a third term. Previously, he told ZTN Prime before last year’s elections: “I am going for my second term . . . this is my last term.”

That was before his recent public climbdown under military pressure. 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 go.

Mnangagwa should have served from 2018 to 2023, leaving Chiwenga to come in if elected in a popular presidential poll. However, soon after the coup internal contradictions emerged and the whole plan began to unravel.

Mnangagwa, who initially wanted an inclusive arrangement after the coup, which is why he sent an emissary to the late political bigwig Dumiso Dabengwa to join his government, 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.

Muchinguri-Kashiri was informed of her appointment privately and she was in the process of arranging a celebration party when Chiwenga blocked it and grabbed the position for himself.

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.

Then 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.”

The following year — 2018 after the elections sanitising 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 reverse of the 2005 plan. Sometime in April 2005, Mugabe started to think about how he could 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, now with The NewsHawks

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