Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday allegedly snubbed his boss President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s field day held at the latter’s Pricabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe, as reported power struggles continue to haunt the ruling party.
Chiwenga was the guest of honour at the gathering comprising Cabinet ministers, Zanu PF bigwigs and restive party supporters.
According to a source, Chiwenga snubbed in protest over Mnangagwa’s alleged weekend meetings at the farm with loyalists to discuss ways of solidifying his grip on power.
“In January when Chiwenga made a surprise visit to the farm in the company of only his driver on a Sunday, he actually came in to check on what happens at the farm, contrary to State media reports that the visit showed his good relations with ED,” the source said.
“Today, he snubbed an important event and it is a latest indication of the power struggles between the two. Why would Chiwenga not come when he is in the country? With a helicopter, it’s a journey of less than two hours from Harare.”
However, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba last night downplayed the snub. “Well, yes, VP Chiwenga was supposed to come.
But he did not pitch up because he was given another assignment by President Mnangagwa. Defence minister (Oppah) Muchinguri ended up being the guest of honour,” he said.
Charamba said Chiwenga’s absence does not equate to bad blood between the two.
“That he did not come does not show that the two have a rift. That would be a creation of the media. The truth is that he was given another assignment, that is the reason why he did not come. How can he snub his boss? Yourself, can you snub your Editor?” Charamba asked rhetorically.
When Chiwenga returned from China last year where he had gone for medical treatment, Mnangagwa and senior Zanu PF officials were conspicuous by their absence at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, where he was received by Chinese deputy ambassador Zhao Baogang.
Exiled former Cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo has lately been claiming that there is a rift between Chiwenga and Mnangagwa, insisting that the former army commander, who pushed out the late long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in the November 2017 coup, is planning to stage another palace coup to remove his boss from power.
In his speech yesterday, Mnangagwa did not talk about Chiwenga, but focused on government’s efforts to reverse effects of climate change, promising that in two years, Zimbabwe would be food secure.
He said the country, currently confronted with severe food shortages, with the World Food Programme estimating that over seven million people are in need of aid, will be food secure through the promotion of small holder farmers.
“Two years from now, we should be food secure due to that scheme,” he said.
Government has been banking on its ambitious scheme, Command Agriculture, for food security, spending US$2,3 billion from the fiscus, but corruption and poor rains left the country vulnerable.
Some of the Cabinet ministers who attended the event include, Mthuli Ncube (Finance), July Moyo (Local Government), Cain Mathema (Primary and Secondary Education), Owen Ncube (State Security), Monica Mutsvangwa (Information), Sekai Nzenza (Labour) and Perrance Shiri (Lands), Larry Mavhima (Midlands Affairs) and Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo provincial affairs). Munyaradzi Machacha, the head of the Chitepo School of Ideology and Zanu PF youth leader, Tendai Chirau, party secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana and Midlands provincial chairperson Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, among others, were also in attendance.