TOP Zanu PF officials, among them politburo members, from the former President Robert Mugabe-led regime have reportedly circled President Emmerson Mnangagwa , jostling for Cabinet posts ahead of the announcement of a new structure likely to be unveiled this week, NewsDay has heard.
This came as war veterans yesterday warned Mnangagwa to guard against dumping people who remained in the trenches fighting for his cause at a time the majority of current politburo members were merry-making with the former First Family and plotting his downfall.
Sources yesterday said there was fierce jostling and jockeying for top positions in Mnangagwa’s new administration with Water Resources Development and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri, Kembo Mohadi (State Security) and Obert Mpofu (Home Affairs), reportedly eyeing the Vice-Presidency.
“These people are trying to outdo each other so that they land posts in the new government. Some are even trying to ring-fence the President so that they have sole access to him and control the appointment process, yet these are the same people who wanted him out of government,” a top party official who declined to be named, said.
Muchinguri, however, dismissed reports that she was canvassing for the Vice-President’s post, saying she would be happy with any appointment given to her by Mnangagwa.
“Well, it’s up to the President to identify areas where I could be of help or of assistance to him. If I remain in my position, I am comfortable with it as I have always been,” she said.
Muchinguri added: “You will remember when we pushed hard to have a woman Vice-President, I was at the forefront campaigning, but I did not consider myself as a candidate as was the situation and case with the former First Lady (Grace Mugabe).
She herself was doing everything, changing structures just to fit her personal interests. In my case, I paved way for Amai (Joice) Mujuru whom I respected because she was senior to me. So I am saying I am not a person who is greedy, who at every juncture wants a position, no. I will wait until the President decides what he wants to do with me.”
Efforts to contact Mohadi and Mpofu were fruitless yesterday as their mobile phones were not going through.
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday said he was yet to be briefed on when the new Cabinet would be announced.
“I don’t know when because I have not been informed of anything on that issue,” Khaya Moyo, who according to sources, is likely to take a full-time job at the party headquarters ahead of elections next year, said.
Former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa is set to bounce back into Cabinet after leading a vicious campaign to depose Mugabe.
Mnangagwa’s other top allies July Moyo and former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa were also reportedly earmarked to have leading roles in the new Cabinet alongside Josaya Hungwe and many others who fought in his corner.
There was also speculation that Mugabe’s former spokesperson George Charamba would be appointed to head the Information ministry, but he will have to resign from government first before his appointment.
The anticipated changes would likely have many casualties, especially those perceived as members of Mugabe’s inner circle.
Those likely to be axed for being closely-linked to Mugabe include Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, Joseph Made (Agriculture), Happyton Bonyongwe (Justice), Mike Bimha (Industry), Lazarus Dokora (Primary and Secondary) and Tourism minister Edgar Mbwembwe.
These would likely add to the list of known Mugabe bootlickers, the majority of whom have already fled the country or gone into hiding for fear of reprisals and stand no chance of bouncing back into Cabinet.
Former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere now believed to be hiding in Kenya, Public Service minister Patrick Zhuwao and Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi could be ruled out of the race as they were perceived to be G40 kingpins who fought viciously for Grace Mugabe to succeed her 93-year-old husband before Mugabe threw in the towel last Tuesday following pressure from the military, citizens and his regional peers.
Addressing an extraordinary Zanu PF Manicaland provincial co-ordinating committee meeting yesterday, Muchinguri praised Mnangagwa for holding back when he was publicly dressed down by junior party members among them former First Lady Grace.
“Mnangagwa did not fight back. He is a mature person, he was attacked and you would see him smiling, we need healing, our journey was difficult, but don’t allow your wives into politics. I was given a Lacoste face and I was happy because I was in the right faction,’’ she said.
“There are issues in other provinces. We don’t want to follow what was done by the G4O faction, our decisions should not be controlled by emotions. I am told in Mashonaland East David Parirenyatwa and Sydney Sekeremayi have been sacked, we need a healing journey. We should not expel each other, we are not like G40, but people should reform. People were given money to support certain figures, some members in the G4O used Grace Mugabe to gain power.”
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Chinamasa, who also doubled as Finance minister before his recent demotion to the Cyber Security ministry told the gathering that Grace clandestinely ran government business since 2013 after usurping executive powers from increasingly frail Mugabe.
“Let me tell you one thing, Grace had been ruling the country since 2013. After the elections, she was the one in power,’’ Chinamasa said.
Addressing a similar gathering in Mashonaland East province, provincial chairperson Joel Biggie Matiza claimed he had received orders from “the top” to stop the purging of Mugabe’s allies.
This was after 36 top officials had been shortlisted for suspension over their alleged G40 links. These included Sekeramayi, Parirenyatwa, Bimha, Charity Manyeruke, Lawrence Katsiru, Bernard Makokove, Jeremiah Chiwetu, Biata Nyamupinga, Foster Gwanzura and Kelvin Mutsvairo, among others.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) called on Mnangagwa to dump cowards who allowed the party to be captured while they clapped hands.
“We have noticed that there are people who used to clap hands while Mnangagwa was being insulted by Grace, they failed to protect the ethos of the revolution and hide behind a finger while feeding their own stomachs, yet now they are ring-fencing our President for selfish reasons. We appeal to our President not to allow these thieves anywhere close to power,” ZNLWVA Mashonaland West chairman and Sanyati MP Blessing Geza said at a Press conference.