A London-based Zanu PF activist, Nick Mangwana, says President Robert Mugabe should remain in office as long as Zimbabweans vote for him.
Responding to questions in a VOA Studio 7 political panel on calls by Zanu PF youth for Mr. Mugabe to rule until he dies in office, Mangwana said the president’s advanced age does not restrict him from occupying the presidential seat.
As a result, he said, Mr. Mugabe is expected to contest the presidential poll in 2018 even though he will be aged 94 at that time.
Mangwana said the ruling party youth’s call is not necessarily the view of the ruling party.
“There are almost 7 million registered voters in Zimbabwe and so let us get back to the 7 million voters in 2018 when his (Mugabe) time is up according to the constitution … So, let’s get back to the constitution … that’s all.
“The people of Zimbabwe are known for their high literacy and they are also known for their high numeracy, and they knew in 2013 that Mr. Mugabe was 89 years old and can at least add five to the 89 which should have given them 94 and so they knew how old he would be by this time but they simply said ‘we want him as the leader’ … So he has got that term, let’s not subvert the constitution.
“If you are seeing that the man is withered and so on that’s the whole point of going back to the people to say do you renew the mandate or not and if people say no we cannot renew this mandate, fine, but if the people say as he is let’s go, fine, then let’s go.”
But Obert Gutu, spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangiri, says Mr. Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 36 years, should leave office and never entertain hopes of participating in the 2018 general election.
“… If the party nominates him, fine … But they should look at the man’s health. They should look at the country’s requirements. Is this what Zimbabwe needs? We don’t want them to punish the old man … What we want is a person who is a young man, a person who is energetic enough to be able to take control of this mighty nation. Mr. Mugabe has proved to be too old and the burdens of running the nation are too much for him …”
Section 91 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution clearly stipulates that a person qualifies for election as president or vice-president if he or she is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent; has attained the age of forty years; is ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe; and is registered as a voter.
“A person is disqualified for election as President or Vice-President if he or she has already held office as President under this Constitution for two terms, whether continuous or not, and for the purpose of this subsection three or more years' service is deemed to be a full term.”