Mnangagwa, Chiwenga power clashes intensify

UNDERLYING tensions between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top military commanders this week publicly exploded in the aftermath of the chaotic and hotly-disputed Zanu PF primary elections which left senior party officials and members warning of a gathering storm of defeat on the horizon at the upcoming general elections
Mnangagwa and the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, retired General Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga are fighting for the heart and soul of Zanu PF and control of the levers of state power.

By Wongai Zhangazha/Hazel Ndebele

Mnangagwa was catapulted to power by the military, while Chiwenga, who is also in charge of the Defence and War Veterans ministries, rose to the position of vice-president in the aftermath of the military coup which ousted former president Robert Mugabe last November. Soon after the coup, differences emerged over a series of issues: type of transitional arrangement, positions, appointments, Mnangagwa’s tenure and control of the levers of state power.

In the chaotic primary elections this week run by the military, many of Mnangagwa’s key allies were defeated amid internal manoeuvres by the army to consolidate their grip on the party and related political and electoral processes. This angered Mnangagwa’s political allies who fumed that military commanders in charge were political novices, hence the disastrous primaries.

Mnangagwa’s special advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa, who is also Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chair, described Zanu PF national political commissar retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje, a Chiwenga deployee to the party, as a “political novice”. He told him he rejects the Norton primary election results.

Mutsvangwa and Rugeje now personify the battle between senior civilian and top military leaders in Zanu PF and government.

Mutsvangwa also warned Mnangagwa could lose the critical general elections because of the primaries fiasco.
Some of Mnangagwa’s allies who fell dramatically in the primaries between April 29 and May 1 include Mutsvangwa, Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for National Scholarships Christopher Mushohwe, Zanu PF deputy secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana and the party’s deputy secretary for Youth Affairs Lewis Matutu.
Samuel Mumbengegwi, David Chapfika, Andrew Langa, Abednico Ncube, Douglas Mombeshora and Edgar Mbwembwe are among the bigwigs who also lost. They cited irregularities, chaos and fraud for their defeat.

As previously reported by the Zimbabwe Independent in February, tensions have been gradually intensifying between Mnangagwa and the military clique surrounding him, amid revelations of the army’s overbearing influence on the executive.

Official sources say the military is even exercising veto power in some instances, while also overly influencing government and state institutions operations.

This week, the fight manifested itself publicly over the deployment of police in Zanu PF primaries. It later emerged the army had unconstitutionally and unilaterally deployed police without Mnangagwa’s knowledge and authority. This has widened the rift between the executive and military.

Evidence of the escalating infighting is now awash in the public domain. Mnangagwa has distanced himself from abuse of police and slammed that, effectively calling out the military.

The use of the military, police and other security officers was exposed when Rugeje’s Zanu PF commissariat deployment plan for the primary elections leaked. The plan reveals heavy presence in the primaries of the military and those with security background who were deployed as heads of the 10 provinces.

The list consists of former Police Assistant Commissioner Tsitsi Sakonda (Harare province), retired Colonel Edgar Dube (Matabeleland South), former Air Force of Zimbabwe Vice-Air Marshal Henry Muchena (Matabeleland North), retired Brigadier-General Ezekiel Zabanyana (Midlands), retired Colonel Munyaradzi Machacha (Masvingo), retired Brigadier-General Etherton Shungu (Mashonaland Central), former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director- internal Sydney Nyanhungo (Mashonaland West) and retired Colonel George Nare (Bulawayo). Kizito Kuchekwa (Mashonaland East) and Herbert Madondo (Manicaland), who have security backgrounds, were also part of the team.

Rugeje’s plan stated that each polling sub-team at a polling point would comprise two police officers, one inside the polling station in charge of security and another outside manning the voting room.

Zanu PF has always used the army and state security agencies for elections, but now the difference is that the military is openly in charge.

In June 2013, the Independent reported that security service chiefs, under the banner of the Joint Operations Command (Joc), which brings together army, police and intelligence bosses, ran Zanu PF’s election campaigns.
Muchena and Nyanhungo were embedded in the Zanu PF commissariat department. In 2008 all provinces were under the control and direction of senior army commanders after Mugabe lost the first round of polling to the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was later forced to withdraw from the presidential election run-off due to a vicious military campaign of violence and brutality.

Some of those involved then were Rugeje; Brigadier-General David Sigauke; Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba; Brigadier-General Charles Tarumbwa; Major-General Victor Rungani; Vice Air-Marshal Titus Abu Basutu; Brigadier-General Sibusiso Moyo; Brigadier-General Sibangumuzi Khumalo; Colonel Chris Sibanda; Shungu and the late retired Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai.

Mnangagwa this week pushed back against the military, warning the abuse of state security apparatus would not be tolerated.

“The President in his capacity as both leader and of a political party and head of government wishes to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that it is neither the policy of Zanu PF nor the direction of government, through him, to deploy the police or any arm of the security establishment in helping with any party function, list (least) of all as presiding or returning officers in party primary elections,” Mnangagwa said.

“Any such instances, which might have occurred in the just-ended party primary elections would amount to a breach of Zanu PF policy and certainly a flagrant violation of the laws of the land which must be roundly condemned and stopped forthwith.

“Any officials of the party or officers of the security establishment caught abusing arms and personnel of security as alleged will be dealt with severely.”

Section 208 of the constitution states that “neither the security services nor any of their members may in the exercise of their functions act in a partisan manner, further the interests of any political party or cause or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person”.

It also says: “Members of the security services must not be active members or office bearers of any political party or organisations.”

Mutsvangwa yesterday wrote a scathing letter to Rugeje over the issue, escalating the fight.

“This letter is further to my cellphone call of May 2 2018 to you Engelbert Rugeje, National Political Commissar, advising you that I was withdrawing from the polls. I unreservedly reject the results of the just held Zanu PF party polling in Norton. I also refuse to accept your announcement of Langton Mutendereki as the winner. The main reason being the unconstitutional use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, a state agency as election returning agents,” the letter reads.

“These policemen were principal players in uninhibited rigging as well as wholesale denial of the act of voting to legions of bona fide party members.”

Tensions between civilian leaders and the military rose after the army rejected war veterans’ secretary-general Victor Matemadanda’s proposed appointment as Minister of War Veterans and Zanu PF political commissar.

Sources said Mnangagwa was forced to change his administration deployments under military pressure as initially he preferred appointing Kembo Mohadi as vice-president in charge of Defence, Security and War Veterans. The sources also said Mnangagwa also had plans to appoint Oppah Muchinguri as a vice-president ahead of Chiwenga, but this was blocked by the army.

The Defence and War Veterans portfolios were later seized from Mohadi and given to Chiwenga, while Mnangagwa became in charge of security; the CIO, demonstrating a fight over the control of the levers of state power and the future trajectory.

President Mnangagwa Speaks On Kembo Mohadi Death Rumour

While launching the Zanu-PF election manifesto at the Harare Conference Centre (HICC) on Friday afternoon, President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed that one of his vice presidents Kembo Mohadi is still not feeling well. Mnangagwa said Mohadi could not attend the launch because he is not feeling well.

Said Mnangagwa:

The Vice President and second secretary Cde K D Mohadi in absentia he is not feeling too well we wish him a quick recovery.

Last month, Chairperson of the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee Temba Mliswa revealed that Mohadi was in South Africa were he is receiving medical attention. It is not clear what the Vice President is suffering from. Mohadi was scheduled to appear before the portfolio committee in his capacity as  former State Security as well as Home Affairs Minister, to answer questions on the alleged disappearance of $15 billion worth of diamonds from Chiadzwa.

Mutsvangwa Staying In Hotel Since Appointment By Mnangagwa

Minister of State for Manicaland Province Monica Mutsvangwa denied allegations that she is staying at a city hotel using taxpayers’ money. Mutsvangwa has reportedly been staying at the hotel since her appointment by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last November.

Addressing the media while officially opening a two-day Zimbabwe Union of Journalist (ZUJ) Election Reporting Training in Mutare, Mutsvangwa said she is staying at the hotel at her own expense. She said she decided to stay at the hotel until the security standards at the ministerial house have been upgraded. Said Mutsvangwa:

I am staying at the hotel at my own expense. Government has never paid a single cent for my staying at the hotel. You can go and check for yourself. I can’t compromise my security. I will stay at the hotel at my expense until the security standards at the house have been upgraded.


Nelson Chamisa Off to United Kingdom

Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is off to the United Kingdom this weekend where he is expected to address the Oxford Union and Chatham House, among others, next week.

Chamisa is expected to address the Oxford Union on Monday, 7 May, and Chatham House the following day.

His spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said Chamisa, who is poised to win the coming elections, will use the opportunity to tell Zimbabweans of the better prospects that his incoming government will bring to the country.

“There has been unprecedented excitement around the youthful but experienced MDC Alliance presidential candidate who has addressed mammoth crowds in the country’s rural and urban areas,” Tamborinyoka said.

“He has charmed the country and the world with most of them keen to hear him speak on his vision for a country riven by almost four decades of ineptitude and misgovernance.”

Zimbabwe currently has 127 registered political parties but it is not yet clear how many will contest for president.

Most eyes, however, seem to be focused on Chamisa and Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa has been described as unelectable and his supporters are threatening to derail the elections because of what happened at the recent primary elections where a number of party “bigwigs” were booted out.

Though he came to power through military intervention, Mnangagwa seems to have won the hearts of the business sector and the international community which only wants free and fair elections whose outcome will be not contested.

Nelson Chamisa To Speak At Chatham House Next Week Tuesday

MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa will be speaking at Chatham House in the United Kingdom on the 8th of May. Chamisa becomes the second high profile Zimbabwean to speak at Chatham House this year after Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Lieutenant-General (retired) Sibusiso Busi Moyo gave a presentation in April.

An overview on Chatham House’s website reads:

The upcoming elections in Zimbabwe will be the first since 2000 in which former president Robert Mugabe and long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are not on the ballot paper. A key electoral issue for many voters will be the economy: recent years have been marked by high unemployment rates, chronic cash shortages and mounting public debt. Although this has traditionally been a strong campaigning issue for the opposition, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fast-tracked comprehensive economic reforms.

At this event, Nelson Chamisa, MDC Alliance presidential candidate, will discuss his efforts to build a united opposition coalition with a strong message, the steps needed to ensure a free and fair election can take place, and the role that international partners can play in Zimbabwe’s democratic process.