President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking re-election as Zanu-PF leader and party presidential candidate for elections next year amid signs of discomfort within the former liberation movement over his continued suitability for the top job at a time the economy is on a free fall.
Zanu-PF is set to hold its elective congress in Harare from 26-29 October this year.
Short of any super dramatic events towards congress, the Zimbabwe incumbent looks safe for now as there has not been any party official who has emerged in the past five years to challenge for his party job.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, viewed as potential successor to Mnangagwa within Zanu-PF, has never made his ambitions public.
However, former party firebrands Godfrey Tsenengamu and Jimu Kunaka have done the bidding for Chiwenga, insisting it was his time to take over following what they insist was an agreement between Mnangagwa and the former Zimbabwe military boss to pass him the baton after five years.
Zanu-PF activist Sybeth Musengezi in 2021 went to the courts to challenge Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power after a coup in 2017.
Mnangagwa, a long time suitor for his late predecessor Robert Mugabe’s job, was in 2017 endorsed as party leader after he had muscled his way to the top of both party and country in a soft coup against the ex-leader.
The wily politician is keen to suppress internal dissent in his party, first with the 2020 expulsion of Tsenengamu who openly challenged his failure to resolve the country’s myriad economic challenges.
Recently, Malcom Musarira, an activist in Mutare, exposed the growing despondency via a party WhatsApp group that Mnangagwa was plunging the country into the abyss.
He was arrested for that.
Unless Chiwenga stakes up a bid for Mnangagwa’s job, the VP could also be seeking to retain his current post.
The VP, whose health woes are a matter of public record, recently went overboard to deny he was consulting doctors over fresh health challenges.
Chiwenga is keen to present a healthy face fearing his woes could torpedo his ambitions for the country’s most coveted job in future.
Zanu-PF would also be keen to finally resolve the second state vice presidency post after Kembo Mohadi was forced to give up the job in the face of a murky sex scandal 2020.
Any continued vacancy in the former PF ZAPU side of Zanu-PF will be considered a violation of the unity accord signed between the former rivals – Zanu and PF Zapu – in 1987.
The Zanu-PF congress will also elect leaders for party organs which include the youth, women and war veterans leagues.
Congress will also elect central committee members.
Commenting on the upcoming congress, party director for information and publicity Tafadzwa Mugwadi took aim at the party’s main rivals who are yet to hold their own elective process after a surprise break from MDC to reconstitute as CCC.
“Unlike other mushrooming, moribund political parties, Zanu-PF is a revolutionary party with established practices, positions, codified in the party’s constitution and one such tradition is the National People’s Congress,” he said.