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Mnangagwa's unpopular third-term manoeuvre

by Staff reporter
16 Oct 2023 at 19:40hrs | Views
When Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived at the 2018 Zanu-PF annual convention, officially called the Annual National People's Conference, held at Mzingwane High School in Esigodini, 40 kilometers south of Bulawayo, he had a clear political agenda in mind: solidify the gains of the coup that had taken place a year earlier and lay the groundwork for his re-election bid in 2023. This marked a pivotal moment in Mnangagwa's political journey, arguably the most significant since 1980.

Throughout his career, Mnangagwa had aspired to succeed the late former President Robert Mugabe, whom he affectionately referred to as "Chef de Grand" or "Le Grande Chef," meaning "The Great Chief." Mnangagwa's close relationship with Mugabe as his personal assistant and security aide meant that he often carried out Mugabe's directives, including enforcing his authoritarian and repressive rule. This association led Mnangagwa to be associated with Mugabe's grim legacy, characterized by political violence, brutality, human rights abuses, such as the Gukurahundi genocide, incompetence, and corruption.

Mnangagwa's political fate remained uncertain when he arrived at the Mzingwane High conference on December 14, 2018. He had been sworn in on November 24, 2017, following the coup that occurred ten days earlier, and then "elected" in a move widely seen as fraudulent on August 26, 2018. As he entered the conference, he had been in power for precisely one year and twenty days.

Accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Mnangagwa joined other prominent figures at the top table, including Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, while Co-Vice-President Kembo Mohadi was notably absent due to illness. The conference proceeded with the formalities, and Mnangagwa subtly began to lay the groundwork for his 2023 re-election, much to the surprise of Chiwenga and his military allies.

As the conference unfolded, Mnangagwa received unexpected support from the province, with local leaders endorsing him as the sole candidate for the 2023 election and discussing devolution within the party, a significant departure from previous norms.

This strategic shift by Mnangagwa caught Chiwenga and his allies off guard. They had expected Mnangagwa to stand for just one term, with Chiwenga poised to take over in 2023. However, Mnangagwa had different plans, and he started a series of purges within the party to consolidate his power.

The 2023 strategy began to take shape, and Mnangagwa's ambitions became increasingly clear. To achieve his goal, he needed a two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the constitution, allowing him to run for a third term. This maneuver required covert tactics, such as recalling opposition legislators, orchestrated by organizations like the Central Intelligence Organisation-run Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz).

Mnangagwa aimed to extend his rule well into his 90s if he got a third term, and securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament was crucial for this endeavor. He had already used his first term to amend the constitution to increase his power and control over various aspects of the government, making a two-thirds majority an indispensable tool for his political agenda.

Systematic attacks on opposition legislators, arrests, and recalls were part of this strategy to reshape Parliament and solidify Zanu-PF's control. Despite failing to secure the necessary majority in the legislative elections, the ruling party was determined to achieve it through various means.

Mnangagwa's third-term bid had set off a complex and covert political game, with the constitution as the ultimate prize. As the maneuvering continued, the political landscape in Zimbabwe remained volatile and uncertain.

Source - newshawks