HARARE - Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s job was hanging in the balance last night after President Robert Mugabe kicked him out of a Cabinet meeting yesterday saying that as he was no longer a non-constituency MP, he could not be a minister until the nonagenarian re-appointed him properly to his administrative team.
Moyo, who was appointed Information minister by Mugabe as a non-constituency Member of Parliament after the disputed 2013 harmonised elections, successfully contested for the Tsholotsho North constituency in the June 10 by-elections.
It was not clear last night whether his going for the seat allegedly without Mugabe’s blessing had infuriated the nonagenarian or whether the president was merely throwing his weight around or just being a stickler to constitutionalism as Moyo’s legislative status had changed — which meant that he would need to be re-appointed as minister.
The Daily News was told that the drama started soon after the Cabinet meeting started yesterday morning when Mugabe allegedly summoned Moyo and told him to go out of the meeting.
A well-placed source claimed last night that a supposedly surprised Moyo had then approached Mugabe to ask for forgiveness, but the nonagenarian would have none of it and insisted that he left the meeting.
“Moyo walked out quietly and looked devastated. His life in Cabinet now depends solely on whether the president will appoint him or not. For now he is not a minister. He was minister because the president appointed him as a non-constituency MP and now that he has decided to go it alone, we will see what happens next,” the source said.
If Moyo’s banishment from Cabinet is not temporary, this would not be the first time that the Zanu PF secretary for science and technology has been shown the door by Mugabe — as he was booted out in 2005 after he allegedly refused to obey Mugabe’s orders not to stand as a candidate in the same constituency.
Moyo took part in the 2013 national elections but lost the Tsholotsho seat to a newcomer, Roselyne Nkomo. He was subsequently appointed Information minister.
University of Kent law lecturer Alex Magaisa said Moyo was within his rights to become an MP, adding that nothing could have stopped him from doing so, although he could not challenge Mugabe’s right to fire him.
He said the Constitution required that ministers be appointed from among MPs. However, the president was entitled to appoint a limited number of ministers from among non-MPs.
“I think it’s just factionalism. There must be a group that wanted him out but could find no good reason. I still don’t think they found a good reason. But the law is that ministers serve at the pleasure of the president,” Magaisa said.
A year ago, Mugabe savaged Moyo while speaking at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, at the burial of former Cabinet minister Nathan Shamuyarira, saying Zanu PF had been infested by weevils which needed to be taken care of.
This came in the wake of another brutal assault on the beleaguered Moyo a few days before that when he described the minister as the “devil incarnate”, as factionalism in Zanu PF reached alarming levels.
Mugabe then accused Moyo of causing confusion in Zanu PF, being dishonest and lacking principled vision — further describing him as a counter-revolutionary who had employed Zanu PF enemies as editors at State media company Zimpapers.
The Daily News’ sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday reported at the weekend that as Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars continue to rip the former liberation movement apart, it had emerged that supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa were ratcheting up the pressure on Moyo and party political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, including frantically trying to convince President Robert Mugabe to drop them from Cabinet.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the newspaper claimed that there was a renewed effort to see to it that the two Cabinet ministers were “stopped dead in their tracks”, amid allegations by Mnangagwa’s supporters that they were opposed to the party strongman succeeding Mugabe.
“Jonathan and Tyson (Kasukuwere’s nickname) think that they are clever. They have been plotting to put spanners in the works of Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s nickname) and it is now time to see to it that the two leading Weevils are turfed out once and for all,” a senior party official in Mnangagwa’s camp said.
He claimed that it had not been a coincidence that all Zanu PF and government officials who were linked to Mnangagwa were allegedly receiving negative Press coverage in both State and independent media, and that they were being “disadvantaged” at party level as well — blaming Moyo and Kasukuwere for these “acts of sabotage”.
The official cited a number of recent events that he claimed highlighted “this untenable state of affairs” which allegedly needed remedying as soon as possible.
These included this week’s story that spotlighted Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana’s controversial views on the age of sexual consent, the drama surrounding Keith Guzah’s disputed victory in the June 10 by-elections in Hurungwe West, the recent nasty spat between Moyo and prominent Zanu PF activist Goodson Nguni, and the appearance in Parliament last week by Brainworks Capital over its consultancy to the government on indigenisation.
“Fortunately for Ngwena, the two (Moyo and Kasukuwere) have made and continue to make many mistakes both at party level and within the government. We will nail them,” the senior Zanu PF official said, further hinting that a supposedly pending Cabinet reshuffle would “deal with them”.
In the Tomana case, the Prosecutor-General, who is alleged to be in Mnangagwa’s camp, has since made a 180-degree turn on his recorded statements last week — which courted serious societal umbrage — that children under the age of 12 could consent to sex, and that marriage was an option for under-age girls from deprived socio-economic background.
He later also insinuated that there was a political and State media conspiracy, ostensibly by Moyo, to get him removed from office.
“When I read the Chronicle I didn’t believe it, but when I read The Herald I was shocked! The Herald is supposed to be the national flagship and carry Government policy in truth. It is supposed to protect Government institutions . . . it is supposed to protect the Prosecutor-General,” Tomana complained.
In the Brainworks Capital saga, legislators are probing the company’s provision of consultancy services to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (Nieeb) in projects worth billions of dollars without having gone to tender.
The firm was controversially contracted by Nieeb, then ultimately under the political leadership of Kasukuwere who was Indigenisation minister at the time, to provide advisory services in the indigenisation of various mining giants that include Zimplats, Unki, Mimosa and Blanket Mine among others.
The consultancy firm charged up to two percent of the total share value of the companies, which could have seen Brainworks being paid millions of dollars if its advice had been taken on board.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, which is probing the matter, is chaired by Zanu-PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya, Justice Mayor Wadyajena — who is seen as a close Mnangagwa ally.