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Does Mnangagwa learn anything from his foreign interactions?

21 Jun 2024 at 06:37hrs | Views
So, today, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa had a visit from the FRELIMO Secretary General, Daniel Francisco Chapo.

This is the man who will also be the party's presidential candidate in Mozambique's upcoming elections.

As I looked at the photos of the meeting between the two, I could not help wondering.

What was on Mnangagwa's mind as they stood together?

Does he even realize that, should Chapo win the 9 October 2024 elections, he will be the country's fifth head of state since Mozambique attained her independence in June 1975?

There was the founding president Samora Machel (1975 – 1986), followed by Joaquim Chissano (1986 – 2005), then Armando Guebuza (2005 – 2015), and the incumbent, Filipe Nyusi, who has been in office since 2015 and is expected to complete his second and final term this year.

Mnangagwa was recently in South Africa for the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also serving his second and last term as president.

Our southern neighbor has had five heads of state – namely, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1994 – 1999), Thabo Mbeki (1999 – 2008), Kgalema Motlanthe (2008 – 2009), Jacob Zuma (2009 – 2018), and then Ramaphosa from 2018.

It would interest Mnangagwa to note a few important facts.

Firstly, these countries have enjoyed their independence for periods not very different from Zimbabwe.

Mozambique has been independent for 49 years, whilst South Africa has had democratic rule for the past 30 years.

Zimbabwe is in between at 44 years old.

Yet, as far as our democracy, particularly through the smooth transfer of power, is concerned, we have been the worst of the three.

In fact, our track record is worse than several SADC states, such as Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Madagascar, and Botswana, amongst others.

ZANU PF is the shame and black sheep of all the former liberation movements in the region.

Zimbabwe has never experienced a smooth transfer of power since 1980!

We had to endure the founding president Robert Gabriel Mugabe's tyranny for all of 37 years – only to be topped in a military coup d'état in November 2017.

His successor, Mnangagwa – who was Mugabe's long-time protégé for decades and his deputy until his unceremonious firing a few days before the coup – is now planning not to honor the constitutional two-term limit.

Already, the ruling ZANU PF party has embarked on a ‘ED [Mnangagwa] will still be in power in 2030' frenzy.

His plan is suspected to be amending section 91 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which limits the president to only two terms.

However, there is a legal obstacle in the way.

Section 328 (7) of the same supreme law forbids anyone occupying an office or has previously occupied it to benefit from any such term limit extension.

In so doing, alternatively, Mnangagwa is supposedly planning to postpone the 2028 elections – when his second five-year term is to end – to 2030.

As I have expressed before. I honestly do not understand the reason for this obsession with staying in power at least until 2030.

What is so special about adding just two more years to his term?

Only he knows.

A huge cause of worry, as far as I am concerned, is why Mnangagwa seems not willing to pass on power even to his own fellow comrades in ZANU PF.

The second fact he should have noted from our neighbors Mozambique and South Africa is that their ruling parties have not changed ever since they attained uhuru.

It would appear, save for Zuma, that the respective heads of state were quite comfortable handing over power to a new leader from their own party.

So why is Mnangagwa not even willing to do the same?

I find it most difficult to imagine that ZANU PF lacks anyone else who can lead this country.

Are they seriously telling us that Mnangagwa is their best and only foot forward?

If that is the case, then Zimbabwe is doomed!

Why, then, is he so intent on ruling, possibly well into his grave?

Let us remember that the man is already 81 years old - ranked the ninth oldest head of state in the world, together with his US counterpart Joe Biden.

This is according to the Pew Research Centre analysis of sitting leaders in 187 UN member states.

If he (Mnangagwa) succeeds in getting his desired third term and stays in office until 2033, when he will be 91 years old, he would effectively become the oldest president in the world!

Judging from how his predecessor, Mugabe, was now behaving – as he was in his 90s by the time he was ousted from power – Mnangagwa will likely also be falling sleep during public gatherings!

Anyway, whatever may or may not happen in the future, the fact still remains that Mnangagwa seems not to be learning anything from his foreign interactions.

Today's visit by Chapo and the recent attendance at Ramaphosa's inauguration should have been a cause of great embarrassment for Mnangagwa.

That is if he still has, or ever had, any conscience.

Surely, how does he feel being next to Chapo, who is only 47 years old and likely the fifth president of Mozambique and Ramaphosa, who is still a decent 71 years of age but in his final term?

During Ramaphosa's inauguration, did Mnangagwa hear any slogans and chants to the effect that he (Ramaphosa) will still be in office in 2030, in spite of his term scheduled to end in 2029?

Has Nyusi ever tried to amend the Mozambique Constitution so as to remain in power past 2024?

Why is Mnangagwa the odd one out?

Or, could it be that he is terrified of the ghosts of his past deviances?

Is he so frightened of his past and present actions catching up with him such that he is seeking the protection of the presidency?

Maybe the main lesson Mnangagwa needed to learn from our neighbours is to govern with honesty and transparency whilst respecting the rule of law.

That is why they are not afraid of vacating office.

At least their citizens know how it feels when power changes hands peacefully and democratically.

That is something we have never experienced in Zimbabwe since we attained independence 44 years ago!

With the way things are going,  we may never witness this most beautiful event in the foreseeable future.

The only way we have known is through coup d'états.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +26378228975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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