Information Minister Jonathan Moyo is set to lose his post in an impending cabinet reshuffle amid revelations that his formerly close relationship with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has broken down.
President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce a new cabinet on his return from annual leave in an unnamed Far Eastern country. He fired 16 ministers linked to former vice president, Joice Mujuru, after the Zanu (PF) congress in December. Intelligence sources said Mnangagwa and Mugabe's wife Grace had advised the president to sack Moyo from the powerful and sensitive information ministry or risk him abusing it to advance his own political ambitions.
"Jonathan Moyo was useful in the destruction of Mai Mujuru and her allies – but those he worked with in the Mnangagwa camp largely don't trust him because he is too ambitious and is considered a loose cannon," said one highly placed source.
There were reports last year that Moyo had developed presidential ambitions and set up a shadowy online campaign platform called 263preeze.
"Moyo ganged up with the Mnangagwa faction for strategic reasons. There has been bad blood between the two for a long time, but they were united by their plot to get rid of Mai Mujuru," said the source, adding that Mnangagwa and Grace had persuaded Mugabe at congress to ensure that Moyo did not get the information portfolio in the politburo. Instead, he was handed the science and technology brief, which the sources said was the third least important in the politburo.
"They (Mnangagwa, his faction advisors and Grace) will not completely dump Moyo. Instead, he is likely to be given the science and technology ministry or the ICT one. This is because they still value his ideas but don't want him in an influential post," said another source.
Mugabe reportedly has a soft spot for Moyo because he considers him hardworking and intelligent, but also shares the discomfort that the minister can upset the political apple cart if allowed too close to the centre of power.
Early last year, he publicly denigrated Moyo as a weevil, accusing him of destroying Zanu (PF) from within by abusing the public media.
The sources claim that Moyo resents Mnangagwa and has secretly called him a coward for chickening out of a plot to take control of the Zanu (PF) presidium in 2004, when his faction managed to rally at least six provincial chairpersons ahead of an elective congress in what is now popularly known as the Tsholotsho coup plot.
Mnangagwa was supposed to address the succession plotters at Dinyane school in Tsholotsho in southern Zimbabwe but called off his helicopter trip at the last minute after learning that Mugabe had been informed of the plot. Mujuru was subsequently made vice president while Mnangagwa was demoted to the insignificant rural amenities ministry and the six chairpersons were suspended from the party.
Moyo, the sources said, regards Mnangagwa as intellectually poor and lacking in charisma and does not want him to succeed Mugabe, who will turn 91 next month. Moyo could not be reached for a comment, but he has publicly shown his low opinion for Mnangagwa through the official media.
In December, he dismissed the widely held opinion that Mugabe had anointed Mnangagwa as his successor by making him the first vice president. Sources also said Moyo had told trusted friends that he and Mnangagwa had been brought together by the need to get Mugabe out of power, after which they would find their own way in the Zanu (PF) political game.
"He said the faction strategists must unite to remove Mugabe from power. Moyo said, "Kana izvozvo zvaitika, aziva kwake aziva kwake (Shona for "Once that (Mugabe's removal) is effected, each will have to decide where to go)," said the first source.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa is reported to be plotting to strengthen his chances of succeeding Mugabe by ridding the security sector of generals aligned to Mujuru. These include CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri and prison services head Paradzayi Zimondi.
Mnangagwa—who was not responding to calls from this paper—will use the war veterans' movement to promote his agenda through demonstrations and petitions, said the sources. It is widely believed that, together with Grace, he is planning to persuade Mugabe to retire this year.