Tensions Rise: Political storm brews as ED Mnangagwa’s third term bid gains traction


PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa may throw the country into turmoil if his bid for a third term is true, analysts said yesterday. Mnangagwa (81) assumed power in 2017 after the military intervened to stop his predecessor, the late former President Robert Mugabe, from imposing his wife Grace as his successor. He is currently serving his second term and constitutionally his last in office, having been first elected in 2018.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution only allows a President to serve a maximum of two terms.

The Mnangagwa third term bid gained traction this week after a video emerged of a Zanu PF Masvingo provincial meeting held over the weekend showing some party leaders chanting: “Mnangagwa will be there in 2030.”

According to Section 328(5) of the Constitution, a Bill to amend the Constitution must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly and Senate.

A national referendum must then be held to amend the Constitution.

Zanu PF failed to obtain a two-thirds majority during the August 2023 polls, but managed to do so through by-elections triggered by the recall of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Members of Parliament by the party’s self-proclaimed secretary-general, Sengezo Tshabangu.

During National Youth Day celebrations held in Masvingo on Wednesday, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi literally endorsed Mnangagwa’s third term bid by saying Mnangagwa will still be in office in 2030.

However, analysts predict troubled times for Mnangagwa and the country if he decides to pursue the third term bid.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa’s aspirations for a third term would create a political crisis in the already politically troubled southern African nation.

“The third term bid will not only cause a political crisis in Zanu PF and Zimbabwe at large, but will also cause a constitutional crisis in the country and heighten the political risk of the country,” Saungweme said.

“It will be a major step backwards in constitutionalism in Zimbabwe.”

Rights activist, Vivid Gwede concurred that Mnangagwa may face resistance from his own party.

Mnangagwa turned to parallel structures for his re-election bid ahead of the disputed August 2023 elections amid fears that he may be subjected to a protest vote akin to what happened to his predecessor Mugabe in 2008.

“The succession issue which is related and in tandem with this debate about a third term will soon enough take centre stage in Zanu-PF,” Gwede said.

“This debate is a big issue after the 2023 elections and ahead of the 2028 ones. How it ends is everyone’s guess.

“The constitutional safeguards against a third term are pretty strong and would require serious manoeuvring to surmount them. Add to this legal dilemma the likely resistance from within Zanu PF and Zimbabwean political society at large.”

Another political commentator, Effie Ncube said the third term movement is completely unnecessary given the constitutional constraints on the third term aspirations.

“Two constitutional Bills and two referendums within five years is not a joke at all even for the most popular presidents who enjoy complete unity in their party,” Ncube said.

Another human rights activist, Rashweat Mukundu said Mnangagwa was enjoying a false sense of political invincibility.

“Mnangagwa is not a young man and for him to be encouraging or listening to people shouting slogans encouraging him to break the Constitution and force Zimbabwe into an unnecessary political crisis just to push what is a personal and family agenda is very sad,” Mukundu said.

“There is no patriotism or national interest in this move.

“He may have a few people shouting those slogans, I am hoping he shuts those people up as soon as possible otherwise this has no takers within Zanu PF and nationally.”

Independent social justice activist Tendai Ruben Mbofana said Mnangagwa must respect the Constitution.

“What I can say about this term limit amendment is that Mnangagwa is playing with fire. The truth is that power is not only sweet but also intoxicating and addictive,” Mbofana said.

“Such flagrant talk of plans to violate the Constitution by Mnangagwa supporters will likely be exploited by Chiwenga for some action to be taken against the President.”

Mnangagwa’s deputy, Constantino Chiwenga is reported to be eyeing the presidency having played a key role in Mugabe’s ouster in 2017. NewsDay.

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