PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has moved quietly to bring back into the fold Zanu PF officials accused of supporting former Vice-President Joice Mujuru if the latest mini-Cabinet reshuffle is anything to go by, analysts said yesterday.
Mugabe on Monday made his second Cabinet reshuffle in less than seven months as he battles to exorcise the Mujuru faction ghost, which he believes was on the verge of toppling him last year.
The changes included full ministerial posts for Nyasha Chikwinya and Ambrose Mutinhiri who were blocked from joining the new Zanu PF central committee on allegations that they were Gamatox.
Gamatox is a potent pesticide and Zanu PF began using the derogatory word last year to refer to Mujuru loyalists during one of the ruling party’s most vicious purge.
Over 140 Zanu PF officials — including Cabinet ministers and Mujuru herself — have lost party and government positions on allegations of allegedly trying to topple Mugabe through unconstitutional means.
Chikwinya, the newly-appointed Women Affairs minister, was last December removed from her Women’s League party post and replaced by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who had lost the initial poll for the post.
However, at least seven months down the line, Chikwinya has bounced back and landed a full Cabinet post for the first time in her life.
Mutinhiri, a war veteran and Mashonaland East heavyweight, was relegated to the sidelines last December due to alleged links with Mujuru and for reportedly backing the ousted Mashonaland East Zanu PF provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde-led provincial executive when odds were against them.
It was Mutinhiri who moved a motion to pass a vote of confidence in Kaukonde and his executive at the height of factional fights in the party ahead of the controversial elective congress.
But his support for Kaukonde came with a price as he was forced not to stand in the controversial central committee elections which saw many former heavyweights being reduced to ordinary card-carrying members.
On Monday, Mutinhiri became the head of the province when Mugabe appointed him Provincial Affairs minister.
He took over from Joel Biggie Matiza, who was kicked out barely six months after his appointment.
Analysts said the 91-year-old leader could have realised that kicking out the Gamatox faction did not address factionalism in Zanu PF.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe had even kept some ministers that were linked to the Mujuru camp.
“We were meant to believe that some ministers who were accused of working with Mujuru, but had remained in Cabinet after the December purge were going to be axed, but we have seen the opposite,” Masunungure said.
“To me, Mugabe has realised that instead of ending factionalism through the purges, the fights have escalated. Hence he now wants to unite the party through the appointment of some of those who were once said to be Gamatox.”
Political analyst Alexendar Rusero said Mugabe was employing the divide-and-rule tactic to weaken the Mujuru camp.
“There is no way Mugabe can continue with the purges because this exposes him to a united opposition, hence he has employed the divide-and-rule tactic. This leaves the other group divided and weaker,” Rusere said.
“This is also a ploy to ensure that those whom he has pardoned will serve knowing that they are doing so at his mercy and any mistake will be viewed as sabotage.”
He said after the December congress, Mugabe kicked out former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, Mujuru and others, but kept Simon Khaya Moyo when it was known that he was a vital cog of the so-called Gamatox faction.
Another political analyst, Pedzisai Ruhanya, said the appointment of the two could mean Mugabe had taken his time to study intelligence reports and evaluated the involvement of everyone in Zanu PF in the so-called Gamatox faction.
“As for Mutinhiri, you must remember that he is a military person and the province he has been appointed to is volatile where there are so many Gamatox people. This could mean that Mugabe wants him to deal with that group decisively,” Ruhanya said.
He said in the run-up to last December’s congress, there were many people who wanted to settle political scores and in the process, rivals were labelled Gamatox.
“But more importantly on Mutinhiri, there is the Zapu element which Mugabe would want to keep happy and share the cake, hence his appointment,” Ruhanya said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Khaya Moyo said any Cabinet appointment was at the discretion of Mugabe.
“We all serve at the pleasure of the President and his appointments are not subject to debate,” Moyo said. “He does as he wishes looking at his vision and what the party seeks to achieve.”
However, former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the move by Mugabe showed that he was confused.
“The centre no longer holds and we have some people who have been abusing Mugabe for too long. Now he is confused,” Gumbo said.
“If you look at the reshuffle, it shows that many people have various interests, hence you are seeing some of the people who were once labelled Gamatox being appointed into his Cabinet.”
Zanu PF has also appointed former Justice deputy minister Fortune Chasi to chair the Parliamentary Legal Committee, a State arm tasked with reviewing all statutory instruments and Bills that would have been brought before Parliament.
Chasi was in December kicked out of government for allegedly working with Mujuru in a bid to topple Mugabe.
He was singled out by First Lady Grace Mugabe at one of her rallies as she bayed for Mujuru’s blood.
Mugabe has also retained several other ministers previously linked to Gamatox, among them Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, Sports minister Andrew Langa and Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora. newsday