A bid by Zanu PF hardliners to push for a constitutional amendment that would have raised the age limit for presidential candidates to 52 years fell flat at the Zanu PF conference after the ruling party failed to adopt the controversial resolution.
By Obey Manayiti/Andrew Kunambura
War veterans linked to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga were the first to raise the age limit issue in the run-up to the conference that ended in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, yesterday.
On the eve of the conference, the Zanu PF women’s league announced that they would back the resolution that was largely seen as an attempt to stop MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa from contesting the 2023 presidential elections.
Chamisa, who only assumed the leadership of the opposition party following the death of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in February this year, narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the July 30 polls.
The 40-year-old lawyer is disputing the Zanu PF leader’s victory and claims the election was rigged.
Monica Mutsvangwa, the Zanu PF women’s league leader, raised the age limit issue yesterday when she presented resolutions of the thematic committee on women’s affairs.
However, the ruling party’s final resolutions presented by Zanu PF chairperson of the documentation and legal committee, Jacob Mudenda, were silent on the proposal to amend the constitution.
Mnangagwa also did not refer to the proposal in his closing remarks yesterday where he spoke about modernising Zanu PF and nurturing democracy in Zimbabwe.
Some of the resolutions of the two-day conference were that Zanu PF must start campaigning for the 2023 elections.
Zanu PF also resolved to complete its on-going restructuring exercise by the first quarter of next year.
“Conference resolves that the party should complete its restructuring exercise from the cell right through to the provinces in 2019. Those structures should then vigorously start campaigning for the party immediately in preparation for the 2023 harmonised elections,” Mudenda said.
Zanu PF also resolved that the controversial national youth service programme initiated by its late political commissar, Border Gezi, should be revived by the end of March next year.
The ruling party also wants the national constitution amended to extend the terms of the parliamentary women’s quota beyond 2023.
The quota was introduced in 2013 as part of efforts to increase the number of women in Parliament. This saw the number of females in the legislature surging from 18% to 30% over the past six years, although it still falls far short of the 50-50 gender representation the women are clamouring for.
Mudenda told the delegates that Zanu PF would from now have its conference before the announcement of the national budget, which usually happens in November.
The conference further resolved to pile pressure on government to expedite the implementation of economic programmes, including the construction of dams and setting up irrigation projects in every administrative district in the country to boost national food security.
The party said the government must find a way of ending the multi-currency system, which it said was the main reason for the current economic downturn characterised by rising prices of consumer goods.
“Delegates urged government to expedite the solutions to the current three-tier pricing system which has pushed prices too high,” Mudenda said.
Zanu PF also wants an upward review of village heads’ monthly allowances.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa repeated his claims that some Zimbabweans were abusing the democratic space created by the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe in November last year.
“We will guard against those who want to abuse this democracy,” he said.
“This space of democracy must be enjoyed knowing that respect of other people must continuously be entrenched.”
He said his party was on the move and would not be easily shaken.
“Those who have ears must listen and with eyes must see that Zanu PF is boldly on the move. We have an appointment with our destiny and we will not miss it. Zanu PF will not be distracted or destroyed. It will prosper.”
Last month, MDC Alliance rolled out the biggest post-election protest in Harare to register its opposition to the direction Zanu PF was taking in addressing the economic crisis.