IN May 2019 President Emmerson Mnangagwa made his infamous statement: “2030 ndeenge ndichipo,’ meaning: I will still be President in 2030.
To many that was confusing because constitutionally, and assuming he wins a second term in 2023, his rule must come to an end in 2028. Two years later, the veil is lifting and the plan is getting clearer by the day. Mnangagwa will likely use Zanu PF’s majority in Parliament and his sufficiently rewarded handpicked opposition in Parliament to amend the Constitution to extend his tenure. He could also use the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a platform he set up to validate his presidency in the face of opposition from the MDC Alliance which claims he stole the 2018 election.
The first step, to test waters as it were, was the enactment of the Constitutional Amendment (No 2) Act Mnangagwa signed on May 7 after the National Assembly, the lower chamber of Parliament, passed Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 with a majority of 191 votes. The Senate also passed the Bill with a two-thirds majority of 65 to 10 after 11 senators from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T faction coalesced with Zanu PF legislators. In one fell swoop, Zanu PF eroded whatever gains had been derived from the Constitution that was adopted through a popular referendum in 2013 with the backing of all major political parties in the country. In the current Parliament, Zanu PF has a two-thirds majority that gives it unfettered powers to amend the Constitution. This is crucial because to amend general provisions of the Constitution, there must be a minimum of two-thirds majority in each chamber of Parliament.
During the process to push through the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Bill, the party rode roughshod over everything and everyone, including its partners in the Polad.
According to National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, the amendment process was “purely and exclusively driven by Zanu PF as a ruling elite, by Zanu PF as a political party and Zanu PF politicians. Within Polad there was a lot of discussion around Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Bill then. The position that was adopted in Polad was that this Bill must be withdrawn, that there must be further consultations to ensure that you actually only amend the Constitution to address other concerns that would address electoral reforms ahead of 2023. At one point we got some understanding that the Bill would not be pursued, and we were out in the public domain praising that stance that had been taken within Polad. Unfortunately, that did not happen,” he said back in May after the Bill had become law.
So, the miffed Polad members had to be appeased and two weeks ago Mnangagwa handed over 19 Isuzu D-Max vehicles to its members. When he received his vehicle, Madhuku was singing a different tune: “The NCA believes in the Polad philosophy. I believe in the Polad philosophy. The vehicle will help me to spread the Polad approach and build the NCA,” he responded to critics.
On that account, Polad members know there is more to come from the government so long they pander to the President’s demands. This paper carried on August 9, some members of the group, are pushing a broader plan to have the 2023 elections postponed and pressure Mnangagwa to incorporate them in government and Parliament. A similar proposal is already being pushed by MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora who clearly has no intention of facing the public in an election after defecting from the Nelson Chamisa led MDC-A.
So, Mnangagwa’s first term may not end in 2023 if the grand plan becomes a reality. And he will likely offer himself for his second term in political negotiations so yes, he may still be there in 2030!.