PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s push for a third term in office became apparent at the Zanu PF conference where some provinces sang songs encouraging him to stay on beyond 2028 in what appeared to be a well-choreographed campaign.
Mnangagwa, who rose to power through a military coup in 2017, is supposed to be serving his second and final term in terms of the constitution after winning the disputed August elections.
He has previously indicated that he will pass on the baton when his term ends, but there have been whispers in Zanu PF corridors that the 81-year-old ruler will push for a constitutional amendment to remove the term limits.
For that to happen Zanu PF will need a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, which it currently does not have.
The proposed constitutional amendments will also have to be taken to a referendum.
Zanu PF’s conference, which ended in Gweru yesterday, did not deliberate on any amendments to the constitution, but the sentiments were expressed through songs.
Zanu PF secretary general Obert Mpofu asked each of the 10 provinces to sing and chant their slogans.
Masvingo in their song said Mnangagwa should remain in power and provinces such as Matabeleland North followed suit.
Only Mashonaland East did not join in the singing of the song.
Mashonaland East is the home province of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is tipped to replace Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha then took to the podium after all the provinces had finished singing and singled out Masvingo and Matabeleland North, which he said had the best songs.
He asked them to sing again. “What l have gathered is that Masvingo province is number one, followed by Matabeleland North…sing again,” Bimha said.
Zanu PF-linked bishop Andby Makururu of the Johanne the Fifth of Africa said they were going to pray for Mnangagwa to remain in power beyond 2028.
“We are going to pray for Mnangagwa to remain in power,” Makururu said.
“It was not possible previously as churches to speak on this podium, but because of the Second Republic we now have a voice.”
Addressing the same gathering, Chiwenga was forced to speak out against factionalism after his home province did not back calls for Mnangagwa to rule beyond 2028.
“As we celebrate our most recent electoral victory, I urge you all to join with our leader and shun all factional tendencies,” Chiwenga said.
“Going forward, let me remind you that the country will soon be going for by-elections. Our president has urged us to remain united as a party.
“We should maintain discipline and uphold party ethos under our sole leader, the president and first secretary of the party.”
Mnangagwa was last month accused of appointing his relatives in the new Cabinet including his son David Kudakwashe Mnangagwa, who is Finance deputy minister in a wider plot to entrench his power.
Yesterday Mnangagwa said the party should remain united in his closing remarks at the two-day conference.
“Zimbabwe is ours, let’s preserve it and remain united,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri hit out at party members for abusing the party name and refusing to pay at toll gates.
Kashiri threatened to withdraw vehicles from party members, who are not responsible on the roads.
“We are going to have a tracking system,” she said.
“Let’s be responsible. If you are not responsible we will take away the vehicles.” The Standard.