Mnangagwa succession: Race now wide open

Mnangagwa succession: Race now wide open
Published: 25 June 2019 (257 Views)
REVELATIONS by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he wishes to be succeeded by a younger person have thrown wide open his succession, which many believed was a closed chapter.

Speaking on a listener-based programme on State-owned Capitalk FM called "Catching up with ED" last week, the 76-year-old Zanu-PF leader intimated that he should be the last person of his age range to lead the country.

The remark was seen as a huge blow to the old guard in his ruling Zanu-PF party, especially for Vice President Constantino Chiwenga whom many thought was a shoo-in to succeed him.

Apart from Chiwenga, Mnangagwa's wish, should it come to pass, would also shut the door on other senior Zanu-PF officials who belong to the generation of liberation war icons who fought in the 1970s bush war, among them Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Zanu-PF youths have welcomed Mnangagwa's sentiments, saying it was crucial for the party to groom young people to occupy leadership positions in future.

"Our president is a reformist who believes in young people; that is why he is working hard to create a sustainable future for people of our generation," the party's youth deputy secretary Lewis Matutu said.

"In my view, all what the president said was that it's critical to nurture and groom young people - preparing them to occupy leadership positions in future".

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday this week said while Mnangagwa's desire would signal the birth of a young leadership which has for long been confined to being voters, the old guard in Zanu-PF will not take it lying down.

Namibia-based political analyst Admire Mare said such a wish has the potential to upset hardliners in Zanu-PF as well as war veterans who also have the desire to lead the country one day.

"The best way forward is to create an equal playing field for the young, aged and women to compete for the highest office in the land," said Mare, while acknowledging that the main opposition political party, the MDC, has since passed that hurdle to include young people in its leadership.

"We wait to see how ED's wish translates into reality," added Mare.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said while it is Mnangagwa's desire to be succeeded by a younger person, the president has so far not made any preparations towards achieving this desire.

"It is a herculean task as Zimbabwe is under the tight grip of the war veterans and a military-controlled party that is Zanu-PF.

"It maybe ED's wish but so far he is not showing any preparations for that by appointing young people either to lead in the party or government.

"The message appears aimed more at rivals in Zanu-PF than for the benefit of all of us," Mukundu said.

Mnangagwa is currently serving his first five-year-term, which ends in 2023; he would be aged 80 years by then.

Constitutionally, he is eligible to run for a second and final term, which ends in 2028.

Already, there has been a vicious campaign by allies of ED, as Mnangagwa is affectionately known, to endorse him as Zanu-PF's candidate for the 2023 polls.

It has been said before by those who participated in the 1970s bush war that the top office in the land is a straight-jacket, open only to those with liberation war credentials.

But while making reference to a discussion he had with members of the opposition whom he met at the State House in Harare under the Political Actors Dialogue, which he instituted soon after the disputed 2018 elections, Mnangagwa said he spurned a suggestion by one of the participants for presidents to go beyond the age of 80.

"And one colleague, one leader of a political party said, I think it is necessary that we change the age of presidents; we must make sure presidents go beyond 80. I said I disagree with you.

"Then I said to him after me I would wish that this country finds a president who is young. We mustn't repeat having people of my age; I think we need younger people to lead this country," Mnangagwa said.

This throws wide open the succession race in Zanu-PF, with pundits saying young Turks such as Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Zanu-PF youth leader Pupurai Togarepi and Mangaliso Ndlovu, among others, may feel encouraged by Mnangagwa's remarks.

Mnangagwa's remarks, however, come at a time when questions are being raised over Zanu-PF's sincerity in involving the young in leadership positions, considering that Togarepi, the party's current youth league leader, is 55 years old.

In sharp contrast, the MDC youth league is led by 27-year-old Obey Sithole, while the party's president, Nelson Chamisa, is aged 41.

Last year, a pressure group, Children of Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans' Association castigated Zanu-PF for appointing older people to lead the youth league, arguing that almost 90 percent of the top leadership was constituted by people way older than the 35 years in violation of the party's constitution.

The party's youth league last year also fought against a proposal by the war veterans to increase the age limit for presidential aspirants to 52 in a desperate bid to shut the door on Chamisa at the 2023 polls after he gave Mnangagwa a good run for his money in the July 2018 elections.

The country's Constitution currently allows people aged 40 and older to stand for presidential office.

- dailynews

Tags: Mnangagwa,
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