Some Zimbabweans have criticized the Zanu PF Youth League for proposing the amendment of the country’s constitution to extend President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s stay in office beyond two five-year presidential terms, saying the country is sliding towards autocratic rule.
According to NewsDay, acting deputy secretary of the Youth League, Tendai Chirau, told journalists in Harare on Friday that unlimited presidential terms would ensure that Mnangagwa is capable of implementing some government programs he has initiated following his election in 2018.
Section 91 of the Zimbabwe Constitution clearly states that “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.”
Government opponents claim that Mnangagwa is clandestinely pushing for a life presidency.
Former freedom fighter, Isaac Mabuka, who is also the chairperson of the opposition Zapu party, said Zanu PF youth are singing for their supper.
“How can a person above the age of 70 be given an extended presidential term. Mnangagwa is behaving like (former president) Mugabe. This is ridiculous. These youth should be fighting to be the next leaders and not pushing for a life presidency for such a person. They are crazy.”
Opposition Movement for Democratic Alliance presidential spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, said, “Zanu PF will always be Zanu PF. They have this kind of backward thinking. We have seen this over the years. We hope that President Nelson Chamisa (of the MDC Alliance) will be elected next president so that we can stop this nonsense. It’s sickening to have such proposals but we know that Zanu PF is capable of coming up with such shocking ideas. It’s sad.”
Independent political commentator, Effie Dlela Ncube, noted that the ruling party has run out of ideas and therefore it is not surprising to such proposals from its Youth League.
“These youth are trying to create a life presidency. It’s madness. These youth are poor people and are being manipulated because they don’t have jobs. This should not be allowed. A person has to be in office for a short time to do his or her best. A country is developed by many people and not one person who occupies a presidential office until death.”
But Zanu PF activist, Elifasi Mashaba, praised the Youth League for proposing unlimited presidential terms.
“We applaud them for recognizing the good work of the president. Mnangagwa started working in 2018 and has done a lot and the youth have recognized all this. There is significant development in this country. The youth have a right to share their ideas in public. They believe that President Mnangagwa can do his best … We think that this is a good idea even if there are some stumbling blocks life Section 91 of the Constitution which limits the presidential term of office.
“If we need to amend the constitution to extend presidential term limits, we can go back to the people and conduct a referendum. All this can be done when people agree on this. When a person is a hard worker one can be allowed to work for a long time in office. I don’t think Mnangagwa can personally call for this but if the people of Zimbabwe want him to stay longer in power, so be it.”
However, Mthwakazi Republic Party leader, Mqondisi Moyo, said the ruling party has run out of ideas.
“These people just want to have an autocratic leader. It’s unthinkable that there are some people making such proposals. They are not even ashamed of saying this in public. This is a total disgrace.”