By Idah Mhetu
VICE President Constantino Chiwenga has virtually surrendered his widely perceived presidential ambitions and pledged his emphatic support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to run for the country’s top job again in 2023.
The once feared former military boss was speaking while introducing and later giving a vote of thanks for Mnangagwa at the ongoing 17th Zanu PF Annual National People’s Conference in Esigodini on Friday.
When he took to the stage to introduce Mnangagwa to the Zanu PF gathering, Chiwenga did not find it too difficult to chant the conference slogan, “2023 – ED Pfee; ED Pfee – 2023”.
At one point, he asked the conference delegates to go over the slogan again when it had sounded the part which emphasises Mnangagwa’s candidacy in 2023 was not clear enough.
But while this may have been the slogan of the day he probably may not have coined himself, Chiwenga came much clearer soon after Mnangagwa’s speech.
“On nehalf of all delegates who have come from the four corners of the country, I want to thank you Shumba Murambwi we shangu chena. Vanokanga Nyama mumukanwa vachigwa vakuruvesango,” he said while extoling Mnangagwa’s virtures.
He added, “And in thanking you, I want it heard here and far; from now until 2023, when next elections fall due, that you are our one and only presidential candidate.
“In that plebiscite, our national constitution allows you two full terms which you shall have so that the party Zanu PF continues draw from your wise, compassionate leadership.
“We will not wait for 2023. We start now to prepare for your victory which we know is sure to come.”
Chiwenga’s apparent submission to Mnangagwa’s authority is seen as a climbdown to what has widely been believed to be a silent tussle for party control between two powerful individuals who combined heads to send their boss, former President Robert Mugabe packing in a popular military coup November last year.
Although undeclared, Chiwenga has been viewed as harbouring his own presidential ambitions and was keen to see Mnangagwa serve one term and leave him to serve thereafter.
But as if reading his mind, Zanu PF youth and women’s leagues recently broached the controversial idea of the political schemer running for a second term and have gone on to coin the new slogan clamouring for the party leader to serve beyond his current term.
Mnangagwa declared his ambitions to run for another five year term as President recently when he said he was going to stick by the country’s constitution which prescribes two presidential term limits.