President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be Zanu PF’s presidential candidate for the 2023 polls.


ALL eyes are now on the fast-approaching 2023 national elections after it was officially confirmed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa would remain at the helm of the ruling Zanu PF for another five years.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday after the Zanu PF central committee met on Thursday, party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said the development meant that all the organs of the former liberation movement were rallying behind Mnangagwa as its sole candidate in the 2023 presidential poll.

“With all the organs instituted, they all agree on one particular resolution and that resolution is that the president is doing fantastic work.

“And when somebody is doing fantastic work, we give him a second chance to do a better job. So, the best compliment to a performer is to say run again for the presidency.

“We are not just saying run again, we are saying you are the sole candidate because you are doing a great job. We don’t want you to be disturbed. Let your programme go through, and the Constitution allows you to have a second term.

“He is our leader and everyone has agreed,” Mutsvangwa said, adding that those who were thinking that Mnangagwa would leave office were “day-dreaming”.

“The president is going for a second term according to the Constitution. The resolutions which are coming from the ward level, from the provinces and from all the organs of the party say President Emmerson Mnangagwa is our sole candidate for the 2023 general elections.

“I repeat, and I am the spokesperson of Zanu PF … Godfrey Tsenengamu and Jim Kunaka are not spokespersons of Zanu PF.

“They are free to form their parties and become spokespersons of those parties, but they cannot become spokespersons of Zanu PF,” Mutsvangwa added.

This comes as Mnangagwa is set to appoint new politburo members and also announce a council of elders this weekend, to advise the presidium on political and economic developments in the country.

Speaking last week on independent national television station 3Ktv’s popular news and current affairs programme, Vantage, Mutsvangwa had said that Mnangagwa’s endorsement by all tiers of the party effectively shut the door on ambitious bigwigs who might have hoped to spring a surprise at the ongoing congress.

“Everybody had their chance to give themself, to present themself as a candidate. You cannot just come from nowhere in Zanu PF. Tinobvunza kuti urikubva kupi, structure haikuzive (we will ask you where you are coming from, because the structures don’t know you).

“Why did you not put your ideas during the consultative process of the democratic institutions as we were moving towards the congress? There are people who believe that the party should be like a secret society where you can ambush people.

“You see, when you make decisions consciously like what Zanu PF does, we don’t entertain ambushes because in a party that has structures and organisational history, you don’t accept ambushes,” Mutsvangwa said then.

“Who could be ambushing you? It could be the enemy and people who are advocating for candidates coming from the floor … They are people coming from America, Britain and Europe.

“These are countries that never meant well for Zimbabwe. They are the ones who enslaved Africa, colonised us and made us lose hundreds of thousands of souls as they supported Ian Smith.

“So, we don’t want ambushes coming from people who are our enemies. We know the ideas which have been put forward by our people through the structures of the party. That is what we entertain at the congress and everybody is in line, including the leadership,” Mutsvangwa further told 3Ktv.

At the same time, political analysts have said that Mnangagwa consolidated his grip on power in Zanu PF following the recent central committee elections, in which new faces and some forgotten old-timers joined the party’s supreme decision-making body outside the former liberation movement’s congress.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said the return of the old guard in particular effectively thwarted Mnangagwa’s political rivals from advancing their agendas ahead of the crunch 2023 national elections.

“My interpretation is that ED has been on a concerted campaign to ‘rehabilitate’ erstwhile rivals, provided they repented and did the right thing, to lend their unquestionable support and loyalty to him personally rather than to the party.

“ED is, as it were, leaving no one and no place behind in his recruitment strategy. He is emptying the pond and ensuring that his rivals will have nowhere to fish from.

“In all this, his strategy has been to leave no stone unturned in his march towards the 2023 elections,” Masunungure said then.

He added that the results of the central committee elections gave Mnangagwa significant advantage over his foes ahead of both the party’s congress and next year’s national elections.

“The old guard is back … because of ED’s support, which was probably on condition that they play ball. Some of the rehabilitated people in Chipinge, for example, were actually die-hard supporters of Ndabaningi Sithole’s Zanu Ndonga, which was for a long time Zanu PF’s bête noire.

“Sithole himself has since been rehabilitated post-humously as a national hero,” Masunungure also said.

Senior lecturer at South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology, Ricky Mukonza, also said Mnangagwa was trying to renew Zanu PF and by so doing consolidating his power.

“I think the composition of the Zanu PF central committee shows politics at play. The coming back of the old guard is meant to demonstrate that everyone is now accepting ED as the president of the party. It gives the impression of factions re-uniting under him.

“The introduction of new faces is an effort to demonstrate that the party is not stagnant, and that it’s accommodating even the young blood like former Zanu PF youth league heavyweight Lewis Matutu.

“The retention of those that have been part of the CC since ED took over is also meant to maintain stability and to reward loyalty. One sees a political balancing act in what transpired.

“This gives the impression that this is a yester-year party that is failing to nurture new leaders to take it forward,” Mukonza said.

On his part, senior consultant for southern Africa at the International Crisis Group, Piers Pigou said the outcome of the CC elections showed that former party bigwigs who previously resisted Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the country’s presidency had now come to terms with reality.

“As we know from the old adage, it is cold outside of Zanu PF. Even rabidly anti-ED elements such as (former ruling party secretary for administration) Didymus Mutasa limped back with their tails between their legs.

“All this also demonstrates a vote of no confidence in possible alternatives,” Pigou said.

Among the notable new entrants into the CC were Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, deputy Information minister Kindness Paradza, former party youth league deputy secretary Lewis Matutu, and Economic Empowerment Group (EEG) leader Mike Chimombe.

Some of the bigwigs who had previously been kicked out of the ruling party who made a stunning return to the structure included former ministers Nicholas Goche, Francis Nhema and Florance Buka. –Daily News