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Mnangagwa’s push for a life presidency bolstered by the Zanu-PF youth league

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the sanctions are illegal. File photo.
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the sanctions are illegal. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s push for a life presidency was this week endorsed by the Zanu-PF youth league ahead of the party’s national conference.

Addressing journalists in Harare, the youth league’s acting deputy secretary Tendai Chirau said they will push for a constitutional amendment to remove presidential term limits so that Mnangagwa, 79, stays in power as long as he needs to.

“It’s very important that the current constitution of the country is amended so that it can allow a leader to have more than two terms. The reason is that we realised development does not have a term limit,” he said, adding they found it fit because Mnangagwa is a visionary leader.

Legally, if Mnangagwa represents Zanu-PF in the 2023 presidential polls and wins, it will be his last term in office.

After the military coup against the late Robert Mugabe in November 2017, Mnangagwa entered a gentleman’s agreement with his deputy, retired army general Constantino Chiwenga to lead a one-term transitional period.

However, despite publicly denying their rift, the two through proxies have been battling for control of Zanu-PF. Mnangagwa reassigned military personnel deemed loyal to Chiwenga through retirements and diplomatic posts abroad.

Through a constitutional amendment Mnangagwa sought to remove the presidential running-mate clause giving him power to appoint or fire his deputy.  

Hence, the submission by the Zanu-PF youth league is widely seen as a counter to a court application lodged by party activist Sybeth Musengezi who questioned Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.

Musengezi in his court papers accused Mnangagwa of taking advantage of the coup to topple Mugabe.

He claims Mugabe was “fully protected by the army” and had the capacity to conduct his day-to-day duties but Mnangagwa and his allies set in motion their “preconceived strategy to unlawfully topple Mugabe”.

Musengezi added that since taking over, Mnangagwa has tactfully avoided holding an elective congress which, in terms of the party's constitution, is due every five years. But Mnangagwa has failed to hold one two years after it was due.