ZANU PF’S new-found internal democracy under new leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to be tested after the ruling party’s Mashonaland Central province broke ranks and rejected a proposal to push for a constitutional amendment, raising the age limit for presidential aspirants.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
While provincial chairperson and Information, Communication Technology minister Kazembe Kazembe was diplomatic about the issue, sources told NewsDay that the proposal, which was initially raised by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association last week and supported by the party’s women’s league, had failed to carry the day.
The issue was discussed at the annual provincial conference ahead of the ruling party’s national event underway at Esigodini in Matabeleland South.
“We rejected that proposal. It does not help our situation that we want to show the world we want to open up the democratic space, yet the party turns around and seeks legal instruments to shut a section of the populace out of the same,” a source, who attended the meeting, said.
A Zanu PF youth league leader, Godfrey Tsenengamu, voiced his opposition using social media.
Writing on his Facebook page, Tsenengamu said: “Political maturity has nothing to do with age.
Personally, am against the amendment. I oppose it. It is not necessary.”
Kazembe, however, said there had been a deadlock during deliberations.
“The issue was brought up for discussion, but no resolution was made, because some were against the proposal, while others supported it.
It came from our districts,” he said.
“We are still discussing it and will have a resolution likely today (yesterday).”
Veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, who have sprinklings of serving military generals, want the constitutional age limit, currently pegged at 40, pushed up to 52, in what critics argue is a bid to block opposition leader Nelson Chamisa from contesting the 2023 elections.
Chamisa turned 40 this year and almost upstaged Mnangagwa in an intriguing presidential race that went to the wire.
The opposition MDC Alliance leader polled 44,3% against Mnangagwa’s 50,8% of the total votes cast on July 30.
Chamisa disputed the poll result and maintains he won the vote despite the Constitutional Court ruling against him, following his petition seeking to overturn Mnangagwa’s victory.
Section 91 of the country’s Constitution 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 40, is ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe, and is registered as a voter.
The Zanu PF women’s league last week also supported the amendment, but it is the rejection by Mashonaland Central that could put the cat among the pigeons if it is carried through at the ruling party’s annual jamboree this week.