Zim ruling party sets age limit for youth wing

The ruling party in Zimbabwe has agreed to enforce age limits for its powerful youth wing in what analysts say may be a move to rein in over-ambitious leaders embroiled in the Zanu-PF’s messy succession debate, it emerged on Monday.

Leaders of Zanu-PF’s youth wing must now not be older than 30 years, according to a report in the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper.

This means that current youth leaders Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao, both deputy ministers, will no longer be eligible, reports say.

New elections will be held soon to install replacements, according to the Herald.

”Our Constitution is clear on who should be a member of the Youth League. Only people aged between 15 and 30 should be members, but this has not been adhered to over the years,” said the secretary of the youth wing, Absolom Sikhosana.

”We are making sure that only the correct ages take up leadership positions in the Youth League,” he added.

In its latest edition, the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent newspaper speculated that the changes had been pushed through by Zanu-PF politburo members loyal to Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, who were worried by Kasukuwere and Zhuwao’s growing influence.

Both are believed to be fiercely loyal to long-time President Robert Mugabe, who wants to stand for a fourth term in office in elections due in March next year.

The youth wing has already backed Mugabe as the party’s candidate in the polls.

Although usually denied by top government officials, divisions within the ruling party are rumoured to be deepening ahead of a key party congress late this year that will see the presidential candidate officially confirmed.

Reports say the party is divided into three factions: one loyal to Mugabe, one loyal to Vice-President Mujuru and one loyal to Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Sikhosana said the current Youth League leadership had not yet been dissolved.

”They will only be dissolved when an election of their level has been conducted. That is when we will hand over to these compliant people in terms of age,” he told the Herald. — Sapa-dpa

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