A THREAT of an internal revolt and possibility of a military-led ouster reportedly forced President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cut short his foreign jaunt and return home, as his close allies — ministers and legislators — were being targeted, NewsDay has learnt.
Mnangagwa, who left Harare on Sunday night last week after announcing a three-fold hike in the price of fuel which led to a three-day national strike, announced that he was heading back home on Sunday amid indications that all was not well within the military and Zanu PF, as a plot to impeach him was reportedly being mooted.
After staying in Europe and avoiding to comment on the situation back home, where at least 12 people were shot dead by armed soldiers, Mnangagwa announced his decision to return home on Sunday when his close allies in Zanu PF and some ministers cried out for help as they were allegedly now being targeted by unknown people who wanted them to ditch the President through impeachment.
Among those who claimed to be targeted include Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena, who posted on his Twitter account that he had been threatened with death if he did not ditch Mnangagwa, who stands accused of ineptitude.
“They threatened to kill me and harm my family. I stand by ED Mnangagwa and wish they know ours isn’t just a political relationship. However they try, we will never quit nor be intimidated. The plot is foiled, they lack numbers for impeachment and the devil isn’t [Prof Jonathan Moyo], but amongst us,” Wadyajena tweeted.
When reached for clarification, Wadyajena confirmed that he had been threatened, but refused to divulge more information.
“My tweet is very clear, it is public,” he said.
Ziyambi refused to comment, saying he was busy, but security sources said he had lodged a complaint with the Central Intelligence Organisation that he had been threatened with death by unknown people using various numbers if he did not participate in plans to remove Mnangagwa.
One of the numbers used, according to the report filed with the Central Intelligence Organisation, was a South Africa-registered line +27613905815.
“I am busy, I am sorry I can’t talk,” Ziyambi said.
Ex-deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe also claimed that he had been threatened for supporting the embattled Mnangagwa.
“I am safe, but watching the situation from a safe hiding,” Mukupe said.
Before Sunday, Mnangagwa was set to travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, where he was expected to have various engagements with the global business players and international media.
The President, according to sources, made the decision to return home on Friday after he was reportedly frozen out of Davos meetings.
It is, however, claimed that he had been briefed by the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Philip Valerio Sibanda, of a plot to unseat him through impeachment.
The plot, according to insiders, was “heavily funded by some businessmen who even professed to be his close allies and have been funding his administration, albeit for selfish ends”.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had called for a national strike due to the state of the economy, but the stayaway turned violent and government responded by deploying the army and police to quell the demonstrations.
As a result, the military killed at least 12 people by Wednesday, while 78 others were left nursing gunshot wounds, according to human rights groups.
Government had accused the opposition MDC of plotting to remove Mnangagwa, but court proceedings and information from sources have indicated that some Zanu PF senior leaders and high-ranking military officials were involved in the violent protests, which included looting, killings and public violence.
Among the Zanu PF top leadership implicated in looting and violent skirmishes include youth league boss, Godwin Gomwe, who was assaulted by soldiers on Friday, but spared from arrest after intervention by a senior government official.
A serving military official was shot in Bulawayo while trying to lead the public in looting and another was arrested last week for a similar offence.
According to sources, Mnangagwa faces a real threat of being removed either through a coup or impeachment, with claims that junior soldiers were not happy with the state of the economy as well as recent indications that he would seek a second term in 2023 ahead of his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, who led the coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe when he was head of the military in November 2017.
“Low-ranking soldiers are not happy with the state of the economy. They feel like Mnangagwa has been lining up his people to benefit at the expense of the ordinary people who stood by him at the time of need. The junior officers also feel that ED has maintained his ‘Chinhu Chedu’ (our thing) idea in appointing key people in his administration and his family is amassing wealth at a faster rate compared to what we saw under Mugabe,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
Even before elections, Mnangagwa warned his MPs that he was aware of a plan to remove him through impeachment, but vowed to thwart it.
Addressing a Zanu PF meeting in March last year, Mnangagwa said he had unearthed a plot by disgruntled party parliamentary candidates to impeach him soon after winning the general elections.
“I got intelligence that some of those who have won these primary elections have two minds. They have gone to join the Zanu PF wagon using various tricks, money included, to be elected with a possible view that once in Parliament, they will band together and move a motion of impeachment,” Mnangagwa said then.
In spite of all this, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said all was well within the party.
“How does factionalism relate to fuel? I don’t know, maybe ask him more [Justice Wadyajena, who took to Twitter with a similar claim], he might give you details,” Khaya Moyo told journalists.