Inside ED’s plan to stay in power until 2030

ED greeting his enabler. Tshabangu


President Emmerson Mnangagwa plans to extend his second and final term by at least two years until 2030 after abandoning plans to abolish term limits through a constitutional amendment which would require a public referendum.

Mnangagwa’s supporters, including Vice President Kembo Mohadi, have popularised a slogan which says he will still be there in 2030. This has been interpreted as a signal that Mnangagwa wants to amend the constitution and scrap a provision limiting the president to a maximum two five-year terms.

Now, ZimLive has been briefed that Mnangagwa considers the legal requirements for scrapping term limits to be too cumbersome and unattainable.

Instead, the 81-year-old will seek to extend his current term. To secure his target, he will also offer MPs and senators an extension of their own five-year terms, in the hope that they would back a constitutional amendment to postpone general elections due in 2028 by at least two years.

Mnangagwa is reluctant to relinquish power under pressure from his associates who fear that his likely successor Constantino Chiwenga, the current vice president, will dismantle their mostly corrupt business cartels and throw them in jail.

Writing on X on Tuesday, Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba said people who think they can see into the future are “revving themselves into a false frenzy of a third term which they seek to paste on President ED Mnangagwa.”

Zanu PF’s director of information Farai Marapira, in an interview with NRTV, insisted that “within Zanu PF there are no conversations about a third term.”

He added: “We refuse to have conversations imported into our party. Nowhere at any level of our party are we having this conversation.”

In briefings with Zanu PF insiders close to the strategy to keep Mnangagwa in power beyond 2028, ZimLive has heard that Mnangagwa considered but felt that removing term limits – requiring a two thirds majority vote in parliament and a public referendum – was too high a hurdle.

Instead, his strategists believe they can extend his term with just a constitutional amendment without a need for a referendum. For this to pass in parliament, he would also offer MPs and senators an extension up to 2030.

A senior official said: “The slogan ‘2030 va Mnangagwa vanenge vachipo’ is not about a third term because a third term is an order too tall to climb; but it also is not about nothing; it is about something, so what is it about?

“This is a most closely kept secret in the party, 2030 is not about a fresh term, it’s about extending the current term for everyone who was elected on 23 and 24 August 2023. Basically, it is about moving the next harmonised general election from 2028 to 2030. This would be similar to the changes that happened in 2008 when the term of MPs was reduced by two years, albeit under the old constitution.

“This planned constitutional amendment would increase the terms of everyone who was elected in 2023 to be up for reelection in 2030, not in 2028.

“2030 is taking advantage of the government’s ‘Vision 2030’ programme to give the incumbent an extra two years, which sits well with his age than would a third term.”

The plan is to use, among other things, Covid-19 as an excuse by claiming that it interrupted Mnangagwa’s ‘Vision 30’ developmental plan by at least two years. Mnangagwa loyalists will also claim that Zimbabwe’s progress is also being detained by the country being in perpetual election mode, and delaying elections is necessary to see through developmental initiatives.

The campaign to keep Mnangagwa in power is set to be spearheaded by Zanu PF’s youth league, taking advantage of nationwide “thank you rallies” to celebrate the party’s victory in last year’s elections.

Mnangagwa close loyalists from politics and business, including the controversial businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, are reportedly mobilising a war chest to bankroll the campaign.

Tagwirei, once a Chiwenga ally, had a bitter fallout with the former army general.

Insiders claim that Tagwirei, in a bid to mend fences with Chiwenga, lavished gifts on the vice president including a luxurious Mercedes Maybach and a seven-digit sum of money as a wedding present last December.

Chiwenga, the informed sources say, has largely spurned these peace overtures, deepening the animosity between the two men.

The once-close relationship between Tagwirei and Chiwenga soured after Tagwirei – who is under American and British sanctions for corruption – switched allegiance during Chiwenga’s extended medical treatment in China in 2019. Chiwenga’s sudden return to Zimbabwe in November 2019, after months of speculation about his health, marked the beginning of a realignment of alliances with his supporters who had switched allegiance.

Tagwirei declined a request for an interview for this story.

Mnangagwa’s plan to extend his term in office will not go without opposition from both within and outside Zanu PF. It could face even more resistance from regional countries concerned about the destabilising effect of such a move, coming after a series of disputed elections in Zimbabwe.


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