By Mapozho Saruchera
There has been a lot of debate around Zanu PF’s resolution to endorse President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections. Some have questioned the logic behind the move, arguing that the party has just won the recent 30 July election, while other have speculated that the endorsement was meant to quell down factional fissures which are allegedly bedeviling the party. The long and short of it, however, is that – wise is he who looks ahead.
The consensus around a political party’s next presidential candidate, no matter how far off the concerned election is, serve to create stability in that political party as every candidate will be pulling in one direction in support of an already agreed position. In the same breath, the move by Zanu PF will ensure that fissures that are already taking root in the opposition MDC ahead of the that party’s elective congress slated 2019 do not derail the ruling party’s focus. Logic therefore dictates that Zanu PF will go into the 2023 election more united.
Secondly, President Mnangagwa has spearheaded a number of reforms since taking office, which include opening up of the political space, appointing a lean cabinet manned by technocrats, embarking on an anti-corruption drive, changing the leadership narrative from focusing on politics to the economy, articulation of a National Vision and Economic Road Map for the country and the alignment of Zimbabwe`s laws to the 2013 Constitution. These reforms have been applauded by the generality on Zimbabweans and appreciated by the international community. It is therefore in Zanu PF’s interest to retain President Mnangagwa as the 2023 presidential candidate as they can sell him to the electorate as a reformist with a track record.
Speaking of vision 2030, it is also better for Zanu PF to let President Mnangagwa captain Zimbabwe until the achievement of the 2030 vision, which he authored. The achievement of this vision will not only change Zimbabwe’s economic and social set up but also ensure the continuity of Zanu PF as it will be credited with turning around the country’s economy despite the ruinous illegal sanctions from United States of America. It will become another accolade under the liberation party’s belt and a good campaign tool.
On the investment side, the endorsement of President Mnangagwa by Zanu PF, ensure investors of continuity in policy. The reconfiguration on the Indigenization Policy by the President was hailed by the business community, as in its former state, the policy was being blamed for scaring away some investors who were not prepared to relinquish control of their investments. Thus for Zanu PF to retain that good standing in the eyes of the investors they simply have to retain President Mnangagwa who guarantees continuity of the status quo and there is no better way of communicating that than making the endorsement – now.
The opposition political parties in Zimbabwe also have a lot to benefit in Zanu PF’s decision to retain President Mnangagwa in 2023. This is simply because the latter was able to ensure that opposition political parties were free to campaign in every corner of the country – something of a rarity in the old order. In the July elections, there were no “no go areas” for the opposition. President Mnangagwa is no record declaring that all political parties were free to canvas support from whoever they felt would be able to vote for them – and it came to pass.
As shown above, those who criticized Zanu PF’s move might not have given it much thought – there is a lot of good that will come out of it. It is a strategic move that can bring stability in the ruling party and country in the long-term.