Mnangagwa can rescue legacy by simply following the constitution

Emmerson Mnangagwa
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THE overriding theme of this week has been the drive by elements of the ruling Zanu PF party to push for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to run for a third term at the 2028 elections.

Bikita South MP Energy Mutodi set fire to the rain: “Zanu PF; Masvingo province today offered President ED Mnangagwa a third term in office as president of Zimbabwe,” he wrote on X while at-tending Youth Day celebrations at Mushagashe Training Centre in Masvingo, which was addressed by Mnangagwa himself.

He added: “Amid cheers, whistling and ululations, the provincial chairman Robson Mavhenyengwa chanted the slogan ‘2030 vaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo!’ to a deafening applause.”

Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, who introduced Mnangagwa to the crowd added: “Your Excellency, before I invite you to take the podium, I was thrilled by the new slogan. Allow me to chant the slogan,” Mohadi said.

He repeated the slogan. Well, the signs have been there all along.

In July 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa boasted that “In 2030, I would still be in power”.

Now, fresh from attaining a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, it seems his ruling Zanu PF party has begun a campaign for a constitutional change to extend his rule.

It is a well-established play-book in African politics, where incumbents have sought to extend their rule beyond the terms imposed by the constitution. Often, they manipulate or break them outright or just suspend the constitution. Africa, it seems, is cursed to have leaders who are inclined to abuse the system to cling to power.

The examples are many. Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Africa’s oldest leader got the national as-sembly to adopt a constitutional Bill in April 2008, removing a two-term presidential limit to allow him to extend his rule. He remains in power.

Idriss Deby of Chad came to power after a 1990 coup. A 2005 referendum removed a two-term limit from the constitution, which was re-imposed by parliament in 2018, but could not be applied retroactively, leaving him to potentially rule until 2033.
He died in 2021.

Comoros’ Azali Assoumani, a former military officer who first seized power in a coup in 1999, pushed for and won a referendum in 2018 to extend term limits. Other current presidents who have tinkered with the constitution to extend their rule include Denis Sassou Nguesso of the troubled Congo Republic and Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, Alassane Ouattara of the Ivory Coast, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. It is worth pointing out that Mnangagwa himself has publicly said that his second term would be his final.

In an interview with a local television network ahead of the August 2023 elections, he said: “I am going for my second term, this is my last term.”

It is an assertion he made in a 2018 interview with CNN when he said: “The maximum is two terms, for any president, and I will abide by that.”

If Mnangagwa is serious about respecting the constitution, he needs to stop his lieutenants from pursuing the discredited agenda. Just by keeping his promise and actually preserving constitutionalism, serving his two terms and stepping aside in a democratic transfer of power, Mnangagwa will have done more to cement his legacy and move the country forward than he can ever imagine.

Source – the independent