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Mnangagwa’s Alleged Plot to Extend Presidency Sparks Political Tension

Mnangagwa and Chiwenga
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HARARE,— President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s purported plan to extend his presidency until 2030, despite a constitutional two-term limit ending in 2028, is gaining momentum.

This move is creating a stir within ZANU PF as a campaign to eliminate senior officials and ministers not supporting the plan unfolds.

Mnangagwa’s second term is set to end in 2028. However, there are claims that he aims to retain power until 2030 through constitutional amendments and loyalty tests. ZANU PF officials and ministers are reportedly being asked to pledge their allegiance by chanting party slogans that include “ED 2030.” Those who refuse are being labeled as “mhandu” or enemies, accused of backing Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s presidential aspirations.

This campaign, initiated in Masvingo and now spreading to other provinces, came to public attention during the commissioning of 17 schools in Chikomba West. At the event, Mnangagwa tested ministers on their loyalty by asking them to chant a ZANU PF slogan. Both Primary Education Minister Torerai Moyo and his deputy Angeline Gata complied, chanting the “ED 2030” slogan, much to Mnangagwa’s amusement.

“Her [Gata’s] days [in government] have been increased,” Mnangagwa commented after Gata’s enthusiastic participation. However, Vice-President Chiwenga refrained from using the “ED 2030” slogan, opting for a more general party chant, highlighting his resistance to Mnangagwa’s extended rule.

Chiwenga’s allies assert that he will not support Mnangagwa’s plan to extend his presidency beyond the constitutional limit. Chiwenga’s chant focused on party unity and support for Mnangagwa’s current term, avoiding any reference to 2030.

Mnangagwa’s strategy involves amending the constitution to de-harmonize elections, thereby postponing the presidential election to 2030 while holding parliamentary elections as scheduled in 2028. This plan aims to circumvent the constitutional barrier that prevents an incumbent from benefiting from amendments extending presidential term limits.

In a government notice issued on May 12, Mnangagwa outlined the commission’s mandate, covering governance issues since he assumed power in 2017. The inquiry will examine financial management, procurement processes, and council meeting procedures, among other areas.

However, Mnangagwa recently backtracked on his third-term ambitions due to strong internal opposition from Chiwenga and his military-backed faction. Despite Mnangagwa’s public statements against seeking a third term, his faction is now pursuing an alternative strategy to extend his presidency through constitutional amendments.

ZANU PF insiders suggest that de-harmonizing elections offers Mnangagwa a more viable route to prolong his rule without facing immediate elections, compared to the contentious third-term option. The plan would delay the presidential election until 2030, two years after the parliamentary elections, reversing a similar strategy considered by former President Robert Mugabe in 2005.

The unfolding political drama reveals deep divisions within ZANU PF as Mnangagwa and Chiwenga vie for control. With the third-term route blocked, Mnangagwa’s faction is determined to push through constitutional changes to achieve their goal of extending his presidency. The outcome of this political maneuvering remains uncertain, but it has already intensified the power struggle within Zimbabwe’s ruling party.