ZANU-PF proposes term limits for leaders
ZANU-PF is in the process of amending its constitution to manage its succession politics with possible term limits for its leaders, it has established. Sources this week said it is becoming increasingly clear within the party that there is need to contain any possible threat of disintegration after President Robert Mugabe's exit from politics.
Cohesion in the party is said to be threatened by covert infighting and factionalism blamed for the party's thinning political fortunes especially in the past decade.
Plans to tinker with the party's constitution come after a succession committee established three years ago to manage leadership contests within the party was abolished mainly due to mistrusts.
The committee had within its ranks people said to harbouring leadership ambitions such as Vice Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the party's secretary for administratio, Didymus Mutasa.
ZANU-PF's secretary for information and publicity, Rugare Gumbo this week confirmed that the party was amending its constitution, but declined that it was to prepare for a post-Mugabe era.
Gumbo said the proposed amendments were being done to take into consideration "recent" developments.
"A committee led by Mnangagwa is still working on the amendments. The issue has not been forgotten or shelved. The amendments will take into account new developments such as the land reform, empowerment and the fact that some of our children are now active members of the party. I think we last had an amendment in the 1980s or 1990s," said Gumbo.
Mnangagwa, who is the party's secretary for legal affairs could not be immediately reached for comment.
But Gumbo said the committee had not been given a timeframe to conclude its work.
"ZANU-PF does not change its leadership for the sake of it. It will do so when time comes and when it is necessary," added Gumbo.
President Mugabe, who has been at the helm of the party since the liberation war days, was last month endorsed to stand as the ZANU-PF candidate in the next presidential poll during the party's conference held in Manicaland.
ZANU-PF leaders had wanted the nation to go for polls by June this year, but pressure from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, South African President Jacob Zuma, who is facilitating talks between the local governing parties and the Southern African Development Community, forced them to back down from the plan.
A source this week said consensus was slowly building within the party on the need to put caps on leadership terms to avoid a perilous future as different factions battle to take charge.
The selection of presidential candidates has previously haunted ZANU-PF. Ahead of the 2008 general polls former politburo member, Simba Makoni, left ZANU-PF to form his own party and challenged President Mugabe for the top job.
Other veteran politicians such as Dumiso Dabengwa have now revived ZAPU together with the former leader of ZANU-PF's Women's League, Thenjiwe Lesabe, who is the chairperson of ZAPU's council of elders.
ZANU-PF is the only major political party in Zimbabwe with no term limits for its leaders. The MDC-T had a two-term limit for its president until recent amendments that gave ambiguity to the issue of tenure. Its rival faction ' the MDC-M ' has stuck to the two-term limit which saw former secretary general, Welshman Ncube, gunning for the presidency as he was no longer eligible to contest in the same post at the party's just ended congress.
Ncube was elected uncontested to the top post to take-over from Arthur Mutambara, who only saved for a single term.
At its congress last year in August, ZAPU amended its constitution, authored in 1960, to abolish the "dual presidency" whereby a party president becomes the country's president. Members said the abolition of that particular clause would help in separating party issues from government business, with Dabengwa saying combining the two vests "too many powers on one person".