VICE President and retired army chief Constantino Chiwenga has effectively taken charge of government after being assigned to administer the country’s military as Defence minister.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa rose to power after a military coup in November and his latest appointments are a clear indicator of where the political power in Zimbabwe lies.
In a statement Friday, acting chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Justin Mupamhanga, said Vice President Kembo Mohadi will administer the National Healing and Reconciliation portfolio.
“In terms of section 99 of the Constitution the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe may assign functions to Vice Presidents to assist him/her in the discharge of his/her functions and perform any other functions including administration of any ministry or Act of Parliament.
“Accordingly His Excellency the President Cde ED Mnangagwa has duly assigned the Honourable Vice President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga to administer the ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs,” Mupamhanga said.
Chiwenga “retired” as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces last week at the end of a dramatic six weeks that saw him lead the military in forcing former President Robert Mugabe out of power.
The military intervention code named Operation Restore Legacy paved the way for Mnangagwa who had been fired by Mugabe on November 6th to return from brief exile in South Africa to sweep to power.
Mnangagwa, in configuring his first Cabinet, appointed Mohadi as Defence, national Security and War Veterans minister which he has now lost to Chiwenga.
With the military having turned itself into Zimbabwe’s kingmakers; Chiwenga’s future as Mnangagwa’s successor is almost virtually guaranteed. It has also become clear that prospects of a democratic transition or an opposition takeover of power are slim.
The statement added: “Honourable Vice President Kembo Mohadi will administer the National Peace and Reconciliation portfolio”.
Mnangagwa is under pressure to find a way of dealing with the emotive Gukurahundi issue that Mugabe skirted for decades.
Mugabe only came close to apologising but then described the period in which more than 20 000 civilians were killed under the guise of hunting down a handful of dissidents as a “moment of madness”. The pronouncement angered civic groups mainly from the western parts of the country.
Mupamhanga, however, did not say who will be in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation a day after government announced the civil service now falls under the Office of the President and Cabinet. – New Zimbabwe