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Does ZANU PF lack leaders who can take over from Mnangagwa?

25 Mar 2024 at 20:25hrs | Views
Speculation rages on as to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa's intentions regarding his post-2028 future.

Most of the issues raised understandably revolve around the legal implications of any constitutional amendments to the section 91(2) presidential two-term limit.

Of course, under section 328 (7) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa can not benefit from any term limit changes.

The supreme law of the land is unequivocally clear.

An amendment to a term-limit provision, the effect of which is to extend the length of time that a person may hold or occupy any public office, does not apply in relation to any person who held or occupied that office, or an equivalent office, at any time before the amendment.

In other words, even if Mnangagwa successfully removed or extended presidential term-limits - he is effectively excluded from benefiting from such an amendment.

Only his successor can reap the fruits!

However, today, I am not really interested in the legalities of any such suspected plans to stay in power by Mnangagwa beyond his two terms expiring in 2028.

I will not even dwell on the age factor - since he will be turning 82 years old in September this year, which means that by the time he finishes this envisioned third term in 2033, he will be 91.

Indeed, it boggles the mind why an individual who - should he have been an ordinary civil servant, would have retired 16 years ago - still believes he can successfully lead a country at that age.

What, however, puzzles me even more is why a leader who wants to be taken seriously would want to extend his term limit under the pretext of 'finishing his development programs'.

Why would a mere desire to 'finish development programs' be so serious as to necessitate the amending of a sacrosanct document as the country's constitution?

In other states that have a measure of democracy and responsible leadership, the supreme law can not be changed at the whims of the leader and his desire to consolidate power or to rule forever.

The only motive behind constitutional amendments should be the upliftment of the citizenry's standards of living.

In most cases, these are things that do not even require any changes to the mother to all laws.

For instance, since the US Constitution was ratified in June 1788, it has only been amended 27 times over a course of 236 years - with the last change (the 27th Amendment) in 1992.

Most of these changes were to do with guaranteeing citizens' rights (the Bill of Rights ratified in December 1791) and even restricting presidential powers (for instance, imposing two-term limits through the 22nd Amendment in 1951).

In other words, a good constitution does not need to be changed that often.

Only in an authoritarian state as Zimbabwe do we find the supreme law  being amended so many times - most of which having absolutely nothing to do with improving the ordinary citizens' livelihoods.

Surely, how did the people of Zimbabwe benefit from extending the retirement age of judges, or the president having more power in the appointment of judges, or the removal of presidential running mates during elections?

Is this not what the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Act was all about?

If Mnangagwa decides to institute another amendment - this time to remove or lengthen the presidential term limit - how will that uplift the lives of Zimbabweans?

Let me go back to the issue of 'finishing development programs' as the reason for extending Mnangagwa's term in office.

Well, this is not only laughable but terribly disturbing.

It is laughable in that there is nowhere in the civilized democratic world where a leader is kept in power simply for the sake of allowing him to 'finish his development programs'.

In any country worthy of respect, there is always continuity between leaders.

In South Africa, their founding president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, obviously had his vision when he came into office in 1994.

Some of his plans were to dismantle the apartheid system, expand democracy as well as bring economic and social development to all citizens.

There was no way he was to fulfill those goals within one, two, or even three or four terms.

Nevertheless, a functional government always has mechanisms for continuity.

As such Mandela's programs were carried on by his successor Thabo Mbeki.

It would not have made any sense had Mandela demanded more terms in office simply to 'finish his development programs'.

Even today, his vision has still not yet been satisfactorily achieved.

In fact, a president who formulates programs that can only be fulfilled during his tenure is dangerously myopic.

It shows that he lacks long-term vision and can not think beyond his own immediate interests.

Some would even say he can not think beyond his own nose!

As such, are those in ZANU PF telling us that there is no other capable leader within their party to continue with Mnangagwa's supposed vision?

As we to say, the ruling party is full of dimwits and dunderheads who are totally incapable of taking over from Mnangagwa and running the affairs of Zimbabwe?

If that is the case, no wonder we are in this mess as a country!

Then, the whole caboodle should be removed from power and replaced by competent leaders.

Whatever the situation, there is really no legitimate reason for extending Mnangagwa's tenure.

In 2028, he needs to gracefully step down and take up his place as a former head of state.  

Is it not time we finally witnessed a smooth democratic transfer of power in Zimbabwe - for the first time since 1980?

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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