Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa on Friday said he would honour the people’s will should the new constitution bar presidential aspirants aged over 70 years from contesting, as widely speculated.
“It’s no problem. If that’s what the people of Zimbabwe want, I can’t go against their will. It does not disturb me at all. It releases me,” said the 73-year-old former Zipra supremo, who dumped Zanu PF and backed Mavambo/Khusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni for presidency in the 2008 harmonised elections.
Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora admitted the clause barring elderly leaders from seeking the country’s top job may see the light of day in the new constitution.
“We are revising the draft and if it (the 70-year-age limit) is in the national Statistical Report, it will find its way into the next draft. We are yet to make up our minds on that. However, it is important to note that in this constitution we are not targeting anyone,” he said.
The possibility of Dabengwa’s exclusion has triggered debate within Zapu over who stands for the party.
Already, names are being thrown around as hardly anyone comes close to their veteran leader in terms of national clout.
Sources told NewsDay secretary-general Ralph Mguni is being tipped to land the top post, but some sections of the party were dismissive of him because “he has stayed out of the country for too long and was out of sync with political developments on the ground”.
Others said another potential successor would be party vice-president Emelia Mukarikatirwa, but some party members appear fearful of the fact that her constituency, the northern region, is weak in Zapu and may not be able to push her to that level.
“There are a lot of academics in the think-tank of the party and some members are thinking that catapulting them to that position will do. They (academics) are, however, scared of assuming leadership of the party,” the source said.
Another potential leader being discussed is the party’s co-ordinator of the Diaspora region, Canada-based Felix Silundika, son of the late nationalist George Silundika.
Still in his early 40s, he is considered as one of the future leaders of the party.
Although the party’s spokesperson in the southern region, Methuseli Moyo, was non-committal on underground stampedes for power, presidency of the party is reportedly the talking point in Zapu at the moment.