Mnangagwa says to quit when term ends… as war vet factions clash over the president’s tenure

President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday claimed that he plans to quit when his term ends

President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday claimed that he plans to quit when his term ends, as party organs fronted by various factions in the war veterans league clashed over his future.

“Our (Zanu PF) Constitution says after every five years we go to congress. There we choose a President who is supposed to be at the helm for two terms of five years each,” Mnangagwa said while commissioning a water treatment plant in Manicaland.

“I have done my first five years and we went to congress and I was re-elected to lead for another five years. This is my last five years, which will end soon, and then I go and rest,” Mnangagwa added.

But an investigation by the Zimbabwe Independent had established that weeks before yesterday’s announcement, the war veterans league — an influential part of Zanu PF, had clashed over his future in government.

A faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) fronted by Andreas Ethan Mathibela,  which is angling to control the influential body had said it would not endorse any manoeuvres meant to extend Mnangagwa’s rule beyond 2028.

This effectively set the Matibela-led group on a collision course with two other factions battling to control the group of former fighters in Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of liberation.

These include a grouping fronted by Zanu PF’s spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa and another chosen at an elective congress held on May 4 in Chegutu led by Ellias Moffat Marashwa whose legality is being contested.

According to a High Court order issued on June 21, the Marashwa group is the legitimate body.

Since Mnangagwa came to power in 2017 following a coup that toppled the late strongman Robert Mugabe, his loyalists have been leading a campaign to extend his rule beyond 2028.

The declaration by the ZNLWVA faction comes at a time when Zanu PF’s political commissar Munyaradzi Machacha who was appointed by Mnangagwa following the sacking of Mike Bimha in May, is carrying out a restructuring exercise that is widely seen as a move to tilt the membership’s support base to those sympathetic to the President.

“The Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that the presidential term is limited to two terms, unless amended and agreed upon through a referendum,” he said.

 “The onus remains with the legislature to follow due process if there is a need for any amendments. As an association, we respect the constitutional provisions and the legislative process governing such matters.”

Mathibela noted that plans by the Mutsvangwa-led faction of the ZNLWVA to hold an elective congress next month had been blocked by the High Court through an order issued on June 21.

He added: “Currently, there is a provisional order, which has stayed/stopped the processes culminating in an elective ZNLWVA congress. As such, the focus of the congress is not on presidential term limits or political endorsements.

“Instead, the congress would have been an opportunity to align the War Veterans' Action Plan on social and economic welfare. Our primary objective remains addressing the welfare and socio-economic needs of our members, and any discussions regarding political endorsements fall outside the scope of our current agenda.”

The High Court order, seen by the Independent, show that Marashwa sought to block plans by another competing faction of the war veterans to hold an elective congress on July 12. The order was granted.

According to the documents, in which Marashwa is listed as the applicant, Zanu PF secretary for war veterans Douglas Mahiya, Liberation Struggle Affairs minister Monica Mavhunga and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister July Moyo are cited as respondents.

“The holding of the congress for the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association scheduled for 12 July 2024 be and is hereby suspended,” excerpts from the High Court order read.

Despite the court order, Mahiya announced that the body’s elective congress would be held on July 12. 

The same High Court order also upheld the national executive committee elected at another congress held in Chegutu on May 4.

He, however, said the bid to keep Mnangagwa in power until 2030 was not being spearheaded by the party’s leadership.

In separate briefings with Mutsvangwa, also told this publication that Zanu PF’s loyal rank and file were clamouring for Mnangagwa to stay in power.

 “The ardent party stalwarts would want more of his good rule because it is delivering the fruits,” he said.

“We are watching the on-going debate with smug satisfaction. Here are Zimbabweans in the cut and thrust of the debate about Presidential term limits.”

“The President's mandate from the electorate is to govern. The campaign platform of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa had nothing to do with succession.

“That said, ZNLWVA retains the confidence of our patron President Mnangagwa and his guidance as this issue unfolds,” he said.

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