Mnangagwa should concentrate on social services, not term extension, says ZAPU

The opposition ZAPU party has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to focus on improving social services rather than grabbing power through a reported two-year extension of his term to 2030.

It was reported that President Mnangagwa had done away with plans to extend the presidential term limit due to legal repercussions and constitutional limitations, instead opting to seek an extension of his current term in office.

To secure this vision, reports claimed the president may offer Members of Parliament and Senators extensions of their five-year terms in exchange for supporting a constitutional amendment to postpone general elections due in 2028 by at least two years.

In response to such plans, ZAPU said any planned constitutional changes must be effected to improve people’s rights and quality of life, instead of entrenching one’s hold in power.

“We are perplexed by murmurings attributed to Zanu PF fanatics, suggesting that President Mnangagwa is allegedly planning to extend his term of office by two years, to reach 2030,” said ZAPU presidential spokesperson, Patron Nketha.

Nketha said such a desire to extend power was inappropriate given President Mnangagwa’s questionable electoral victory in previous elections.

“For someone whose 2023 electoral ‘victory’ is still mired in controversy and regional condemnation, such hallucinations sound like ideas from Ingutsheni Hospital,” Nketha said.

He added that Zimbabwe is “yet to recover from the economic paralysis induced by the rigged elections roundly condemned by local, regional and international observer missions.”

Therefore, Nketha stated that President Mnangagwa’s vision of staying in power until 2030 was “just inebriated ramblings to exude a false sense of bravado.”

“Constitutional changes must be, cardinally, made to improve people’s rights and quality of life, instead of focusing only on the entrenchment of power. We need laws to create a developmental state that will make sure there is quality health insurance delivery, quality education, quality communication, improved social security, destruction of tribalism, and respect for separation of powers,” said the ZAPU’s presidential spokesperson.

The ZAPU presidential spokesperson noted that constitutionalism protects state institutions and other pillars of the state from capture by the ‘power-hungry’ executive. 

“Adherence to the constitution amounts to the rule of law. It strengthens devolution and avoids cadre deployment of incompetent individuals, a wild form of malpractice that runs parastatals into the ground,” Nketha said.

He added that the government’s primary focus should be equipping local training institutions to cater for locals in every part of the country.

“Again, employment opportunities should first consider locals and only outsource specialist manpower for skills transfer to capacitate locals. Normatively, 80 percent employment must be local,” Nketha said but lamented how the country under Zanu PF rule has failed to uphold these tenets of national development and social progress. 

“Since independence in 1980, programmes of power retention have been the top priority for the clueless governing party, using violence and draconian pieces of legislation. The government has unconstitutionally drawn security forces into partisan politics, to defend the Zanu PF party rather than national interests.”

According to commentators, the president is aware that increasing the presidential term limit will be impossible, which is why he may choose to extend his present term.

Meanwhile, some ruling party supporters, notably Vice President Kembo Mohadi, have also stated that President Mnangagwa will remain in power until 2030.

However, changing presidential term limits will necessitate a constitutional amendment followed by a national referendum, with lawyers saying President Mnangagwa will still not be eligible for a third term.

Lawyers explained that even if an amendment is made, and members of the opposition in Parliament voted alongside the ruling party, President Mnangagwa will not be eligible for a third term because an amendment cannot benefit the incumbent according to Section 91(2) of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, which states one is disqualified for an election as President if he has already held office in a similar position under this constitution for two terms. 

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