<strong>HARARE - </strong>President Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to amend the Constitution to enable him to stand as a presidential candidate for three terms following his recent pronouncements in Gweru that he will lead the country until 2030, political analysts have said.</p>
Currently, the Constitution does not allow an incumbent to stand as a presidential candidate for more than two five-year terms.
In terms of the Constitution, “A person is disqualified for election as president or vice-president if he or she has already held office as president under this Constitution for two terms, whether continuous or not, and for the purpose of this subsection three or more years’ service is deemed to be a full term.”
If Mnangagwa wins the forthcoming elections slated for July 30, and those for 2023, his two five-year terms will end in 2028.
Mnangagwa, who faces 22 other presidential candidates in this year’s elections, came under scrutiny after he told a business meeting in Gweru recently that he was confident of remaining in office up to 2030.
“I chose 2030 and it’s not a magic year, but I believe I will still be there. I would want to commend the Buy Zimbabwe team which has continued to work closely with both private and public sectors to drive the buy local message and encourage the purchase of local products and services so that local businesses can thrive, thereby, stimulating economic growth and creating decent jobs for us to be a middle income country by 2030,” he was quoted saying.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News said there were high chances that Mnangagwa could change the Constitution if he wins this year’s election, to ensure that he will still be in power by 2030.
“There is a real chance that ED (Mnangagwa) and Zanu PF may push for constitutional changes hence the necessity to have a hung Parliament so that the Constitution could be defended. If Zanu PF dominates this election there is a real threat that the Constitution will be shredded,” said Rashweat Mukundu, a political analyst.
Mnangagwa’s predecessor, Robert Mugabe, was in power for 37 years.
Mugabe resigned last November following an army intervention that ended his iron-fisted rule, at a time he was preparing to stand as a presidential candidate at age 94.
Legal expert Lovemore Madhuku told the Daily News that in terms of the Constitution, Mnangagwa has got only two terms to stand as Head of State.
“The only way he can remain in power after his two terms is by changing the Constitution,” he said, noting that the provisions for presidents to serve only two terms came into force at the inception of the Constitution finalised in 2013, although there are other provisions that he said would become valid in 2023.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the current government does not have respect for the Constitution.
“While I think he will be president after July 30, 2018 for another five years, he won’t be president in 2023,” he said.
Saungweme said Mnangagwa was likely to give way to his powerful deputy, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in 2023.
“So since Chiwenga is the power behind Mnangagwa’s throne he won’t allow him post 2023. Also God is gracious, he will not allow Mnangagwa to be there in 2030, it’s a pipe dream — all factors will militate against (it). July 30, 2018 is likely to be the last time these older generation of politicians will subvert the will of the people via poll manipulation and get away with it.
“In 2023, the dynamics and natural factors won’t allow these grandfathers to still be in power. It’s rare to have a Mugabe who lives forever, most will not reach 94,” he said, adding that political scenarios will also change drastically in 2023, as most of those in government might not still be around during the time.
Former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who is a serious Mnangagwa critic, has said the president is banking on the army on his ambitions to lead the country until 2030.
“Banking on the #ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) Nov (November) coup, Mnangagwa says he’ll be in power in 2030 at 88 years & beyond. Stop him dead in his tracks…,” Moyo said.
Whether Mnangagwa would seek to remain in power longer than expected just like his predecessor, Mugabe, remain to be seen.
Only time will tell.