THE Zanu PF Masvingo province has stirred a hornet nest after a video emerged showing party members chanting that President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be in office until 2030.

Mnangagwa was re-elected last year for his second and final term in an election observers said failed to tick all the boxes in the holding of free, fair and credible polls.

His term ends in 2028, thanks to the 2013 Constitution which prescribed two-term limits for the President in line with regional and global trends.

Term limits act as a bulwark against one individual from accumulating power and building a personality cult or the creation of “life Presidents”. The terms are usually two although the duration for each tenure varies among countries but ranges from four to seven years.

The call by Zanu PF members in Masvingo province could not have come as a surprise as the ruling party is basking in the glory of garnering the coveted two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and with it a licence to amend the Constitution.

The slogan 2030 vaMnangagwa vanenge vachipo (Mnangagwa will be there in 2030) is gaining traction in the grassroots amid fears this could be used to test the waters ahead of a final assault to reset the clock on term limits.

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There are fears that at the end Mnangagwa will say “the people have spoken” which necessitates a third term. We caution against pursuing that route which is being driven by greedy people who want an extended stay in the feeding trough.

What this does is to erode the few good things this administration has done since it came to power via a coup in November 2017.

We urge the President to rebuke those that are bent on pursuing  a destructive path towards extending his tenure. Those are not real allies but flip-floppers who follow the bandwagon. In November 2017, nine out of 10 provinces supported the dismissal of Mnangagwa. The same provinces somersaulted two weeks later extolling the virtues of Mnangagwa after the military had stepped in. 

Africa is battling the scourge of third termism as we recently saw in Senegal and other parts of the continent. Senegal’s President Macky Sall said last week that he would respect the country’s constitution and step down on April 2, although his reputation and the country's image had been dented by deadly protests which claimed lives.

In Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré was forced to resign in a 2014 uprising after Burkinabes stopped plans to extend his 27-year reign.

In Malawi and Zambia, Bakili Muluzi and Frederick Chiluba, respectively were foiled when they attempted to reset the clock on term limits.

In an article, Presidential term limits key to democratic progress and security in Africa, Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook noted that Africa faces a return to the “president for life” norms and de facto one-party States that defined the continent prior to the wave of democratisation that swept across the region in the 1990s if it is unable to reverse the erosion in term limits. Zimbabwe risks becoming part of the statistics if Mnangagwa pursues the ruinous path by going for a third term. Leadership is like a relay where one is supposed to pass on the baton, no matter how good one is.