VICE President Constantino Chiwenga’s recent claims that Zanu PF would initiate a constitutional amendment to give President Emmerson Mnangagwa life presidency was mere political banter aimed at appeasing tension between him and his principal following reports he is manoeuvring to wrest power from him, analysts have said.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Beitbridge Wednesday, Chiwenga suggested that the party would rule forever and would change the constitution to allow Mnangagwa to rule for life.
Zimbabwean’s 2013 constitution provides for two five-year presidential term limit.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero described Chiwenga as an excitable character trying to give to his boss an impression that he had no presidential ambitions.
“I don’t see anything outside political banter, excitable characters trying to allay allegations of factionalism and divisions which are rocking the party,” Rusero said.
“I think in all earnest, the VP is trying to please his boss. After all, we are in an election mood. The election season is already upon us where one can say anything. I do not think we can depict a national mood looking at what Chiwenga uttered on a podium or a platform where he was showering heaps of praises to his boss ED. I do not see any innuendos beyond that, but it becomes problematic when a whole VP who is supposed to be the epitome of policy making parroting such sentiments,” Rusero said.
Political scientist, author and publisher Ibbo Mandaza weighed in saying: “l think it was shear rhetoric meant to conceal a lot of things happening behind the scenes. I saw the video; the response of the crowd is muted. There was no cheering. It was a very mute response. Even the audience are not lost to the noise behind it all. People will be foolish if they get moved by that.”
However, renowned academic Nhamo Mhiripiri believes the ruling party, which enjoys an overwhelming majority in the legislature, has the wherewithal to effect the amendment if it pleases.
“Any majority party can make claims that they are doing the changes. There is a possibility Zanu PF can do that and its constitutional when there is need to involve everybody, like in a referendum which is more universal as compared to the elected MPs,” Mhiripiri said.
“With elections, you can never be sure. There might be lobbyists who might think they might have mire vision and insights on why extensions might be problematic but as long as those people are in the minority, it becomes a problem, so is it a popular will? That is the question,” he added.
A power struggle has been simmering for the past three years between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, with factions belonging to them fighting bitterly over control of party structures. The fight has worsened during the ongoing restructuring exercise.
Mnangagwa and the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander are fighting for the heart and soul of Zanu PF and control of the levers of state power.
The differences between the two emerged after the November 2017 coup over several issues, such as type of transitional arrangement, key appointments, including cabinet posts and Mnangagwa’s tenure.