PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s third Cabinet reshuffle in nine months shows that the embattled Zanu PF leader is struggling to keep the ruling party intact after an unprecedented purge that targeted suspected supporters of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA / EVERSON MUSHAVA
Mugabe on Friday appointed 14 ministers and deputy ministers, inviting ridicule and scorn from opponents who accused him of being out of touch.
The 91-year-old leader created two new portfolios-Policy Coordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office (Simon Khaya-Moyo) and Rural Development and Preservation of National Heritage (Abedinico Ncube).
He also appointed former ZBC journalist Makhosini Hlongwane minister without portfolio.
Last December, he created the War Veterans ministry headed by Christopher Mutsvangwa, who got a new deputy in Tshinga Dube as part of the latest reshuffle.
Friday’s reshuffle followed the publication of a manifesto by Mujuru that observers said marked her imminent return to politics, this time as Mugabe’s rival.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said the constant realignment of Mugabe’s Cabinet showed that the
veteran ruler was having sleepless nights trying to deal with the post-Mujuru fallout in Zanu PF.
“The reshuffles show the impact of the purge that was done last year,” Mandaza said.
“The ramifications will not be over soon. Zanu PF is in a deep crisis and this could signal the
end to it. Mugabe is having sleepless nights over Mujuru.”
Another analyst, Alexander Rusero, said Mugabe never anticipated the effects of the purge and
was now battling to put out the fire engulfing Zanu PF.
“Mugabe underestimated the effects of the Mujuru purge. He thought her sacking would be the beginning of the end of infighting, but it turned out to be the opposite,” he said.
“To say the Zanu PF of 2015 without Mujuru is better than that of 2013 would be mere fallacy.
“The void left by Mujuru will be difficult to fill. What will rattle Zanu PF is that she was the stabilising element.
“Her departure means Zanu PF will have to deal with the shift of power, which explains the reason
behind the reshuffles.”
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume poked fun at Mugabe, saying the changes showed that the Zanu PF leader was now out of his depth.
“Mugabe is so advanced in age he probably does not remember he had done so many reshuffles inside one year,” he said.
A State media columnist believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba said Zanu PF had been unsure about how to deal with Mujuru before she came out in the open concerning her future last week.
“Zanu PF has been uncomfortable with a floating Joice Mujuru, a Mujuru sitting musingly at Rudhara,
allowing time to forget and heal, allowing a growing benefit of the doubt,” Manheru wrote.
“Such a situation has been very hard for Zanu PF to manage since December last year, justifying endless purges.”
Zanu PF has fired or suspended several top officials accused of working with Mujuru to allegedly
topple Mugabe from power since the purges began last December.
Mugabe has admitted that the purges have weakened the party.
However, Charamba also issued a chilling warning to the former Vice-President, saying Zanu PF would fight the former war veteran on many fronts.
“There are many things which Zanu PF had put into abeyance, waiting for this moment. She [Mujuru] has provided a trigger and it can only be fast forward. She is set to be fought on many fronts,” he
“Zanu PF is a vicious, unyielding auditor. Already, yesterday’s [Cabinet] appointments suggest
a planner putting his ducks in a row. Read carefully what the appointments do to Midlands and Mashonaland East, and you get a good clue.”
But one of Mujuru’s allies, former State Security minister Didymus Mutasa, said they were prepared
to face Zanu PF and the State machinery.
Mutasa has been speaking on behalf of disgruntled former Zanu PF members under the People First (PF) banner who have earmarked Mujuru as their leader.
“PF is determined to resist anarchy in the same way the people’s nationalist movements resisted Ian Smith’s Rhodesia,” Mutasa said.
“We abhor discrimination, oppression and brutality regardless of the colour of the person behind it.
“When one decides to go into politics and in particular our kind of politics in Zimbabwe, one should be aware that it can get dirty and at times dangerous.
“In Shona they say, ‘ateya mariva murutsva haachatyi kusviba magaro’ [If one takes to the mud
they should expect to get dirty].We are prepared for any eventuality.”
During his time in government, Mutasa was in charge of the country’s feared Central Intelligence
Organisation and he said he hoped “some” in the security services would protect them.
“We know the kind of animal we are dealing with, but we also hope that not everyone in the security
services is against us,” he said.
“We are hoping that some among them would want to protect, not only us, but all Zimbabweans against their government.”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Mujuru should expect Zanu PF to use the State machinery to derail her efforts to dislodge Mugabe.
He said he does not believe Mujuru would be a game-changer in Zimbabwean politics, but Zanu PF would still not treat her with kid gloves.
“I need to send out a word of caution and say Mujuru’s perceived impact on the country’s political
scene is probably exaggerated,” he said.
“I do not think she will be a game-changer, but she should prepare for the worst, while expecting the best.
“Zanu PF will treat her in the ‘normal way’ it treats opposition parties to its power base.”
Mujuru was fired from government last December for allegedly trying to use witchcraft and hired
assassins to push Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence out of power.