Mnangagwa in Talks to Extend Term Amid Controversial Opposition Deal

Emmerson Mnangagwa
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HARARE – In a surprising political development, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly in discussions with senior figures from the opposition, aiming to extend his term in office and prolong the current parliamentary term.

This move, if successful, could have far-reaching implications for the country’s political landscape.

Sources reveal that ZANU-PF, Mnangagwa’s party, is orchestrating a backroom deal with certain leaders within the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) to bypass the constitutional limit on presidential terms. This plan would enable Mnangagwa to remain in power beyond 2028, despite the end of his second term, and allow sitting politicians to retain their positions without facing new elections.

This arrangement would benefit ZANU-PF leaders, shielding them from growing public discontent, and would also appeal to some CCC leaders accused of being government stooges, by postponing the need for costly elections and maintaining their parliamentary seats.

Insiders close to the negotiations indicate that Mnangagwa’s primary motivation is to secure his grip on power, but he also seeks to enhance his waning legitimacy through an inclusive government. By extending patronage to allied CCC members, ZANU-PF hopes to quell internal dissent and consolidate power. However, such a move is expected to deepen divisions within the opposition and provoke public outrage.

The proposal arises amidst a fractured opposition. Nelson Chamisa, former CCC leader, resigned in January after a series of controversial recalls by Sengezo Tshabangu, who declared himself interim Secretary General and expelled elected CCC members. This turmoil has left the opposition weakened and susceptible to manipulation.

Tshabangu, now a CCC senator, confirmed that informal talks with ZANU-PF are ongoing, both inside and outside Parliament. He asserts that an inclusive government is essential for progress. “They want an inclusive arrangement, an extension of the term. For us to move on, there should be a reconfiguration of government. We should be part of that government,” Tshabangu stated.

This stance is echoed by former Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, acting CCC president, who advocates for comprehensive political dialogue. “Our approach to dialogue is that you take nothing off the table. If we then have an inclusive government so that the economy delivers for the people, so be it,” Ncube said.

Despite these endorsements, the proposed deal is contentious. Nqobizitha Mlilo, a CCC spokesperson, has reportedly suggested postponing the 2028 elections to facilitate a unity government. Conversely, ZANU-PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa claims the proposal originated from the CCC.

Political analysts warn that any unity government excluding civil society leaders and Chamisa would lack true inclusivity. Ricky Mukonza, a prominent commentator, argues that Mnangagwa’s motive is to address legitimacy issues but predicts resistance from ZANU-PF hardliners who fear losing power.

The greatest challenge to Mnangagwa’s plan may come from within his own party. Extending his term indefinitely would thwart the ambitions of potential successors like Vice President and former army general Constantine Chiwenga. Despite assertions that Chiwenga will never become President, internal dissent within ZANU-PF could emerge as a significant obstacle.

As Zimbabwe navigates this potential political upheaval, the true test will be whether the country can maintain its multiparty system amidst these controversial maneuvers. The coming months will reveal whether Mnangagwa’s strategy will fortify his rule or incite a broader political crisis.