The Douglas Mwonzora lead MDC-T party says it would not back Zanu PF plans to scrap presidential limits through a constitutional amendment.
The MDC-T spokesman Witness Dube said. His party “vehemently opposed” the idea, floated by the Zanu PF youth wing which claimed President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 79, was doing such a good job he should be re-elected in 2023 and again in 2028.
Zimbabwe’s new constitution adopted in 2013 imposes a two-term limit for presidents, each valid for five years. Which ZanuPF now seeks to change.
This means that if the idea floated by the ZanuPF youth league is to be a reality, the constitution would need to be amended.
To amend the constitution, Zanu PF would require a two thirds majority in parliament, which it does not have.
However, the depleted number of the Chamisa lead MDC Alliance is seen as something that might help Zanu PF to dribble and sneak in this amendment.
In May, Zanu PF enlisted the help of the MDC-T party led by Douglas Mwonzora to push through controversial amendments extending the retirement age of senior judges.
Thusly, even though the Mwonzora faction says it is opposed to this particular amendment it remains to be seen if they would hold up and stick to their word.
“We are vehemently opposed to the removal of term limits for any office, and as a party we believe that two terms are enough for any leader to make their contribution and pass the baton to the next person,” MDC-T spokesman Witness Dube said.
The MDC-T secured one seat in the National Assembly and one seat in the Senate in 2018, but a controversial Supreme Court ruling in 2019 saw the party lay claim to the MDC Alliance’s 88 MPs and 25 senators.
Dozens of elected MDC Alliance representatives who refused to defect to the MDC-T have been recalled, and Mwonzora has stuffed parliament with his loyalists after using recalls to snatch the MDC Alliance’s proportional representation seats, which do not require by-elections.
Mwonzora has positioned the MDC-T as a Zanu PF ally, while working to annihilate the MDC Alliance – at least in court where he has won favourable judgements. Forthcoming by-elections, which his party does not want to be held, will expose the depth of the MDC-T’s electoral support, or lack of it.
Analysts say the Zanu PF youth league proposal is unlikely to win approval even inside Zanu PF, but is part of ongoing brinkmanship as Mnangagwa loyalists seek to overwhelm his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, who is reported to be readying a challenge for the Zanu PF presidency before 2023.
Even if Parliament somehow passed the amendment, it would not benefit Mnangagwa unless it was put to a referendum.