BY MOSES MATENGA/JAIROS SAUNYAMA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired controversial politician Energy Mutodi following accusations that he was part of a faction undermining the Zanu PF leader amid allegations of fissures in his government.
The onslaught against Mutodi escalated yesterday after Zanu PF’s Mashonaland East provincial executive said he would be charged with undermining party leaders.
Mnangagwa gave the flamboyant politician the boot, a week after the former Information deputy minister said he was living in fear of Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and Chris Mutsvangwa, a former presidential advisor.
This was after Moyo humiliated the Goromonzi West MP when he distanced the government from statements by the then deputy minister ridiculing Tanzanian leader John Magufuli’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mutodi also accused his then boss in the ministry Monica Mutsvangwa of abusing the state-controlled ZBC and The Herald to push an agenda against him.
It has since emerged that his outbursts on social media were a culmination of serious factional fights in government pitting ministers aligned to Mnangagwa and those linked to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s camp.
Mutodi is said to be in Chiwenga’s camp, while Moyo and Mutsvangwa are viewed as Mnangagwa loyalists.
The public spat pitting Moyo, who was accused by Mutodi of behaving like a prime minister, is said to be a culmination of the fierce tussle between the two camps.
“It is a fight over control of the government media outlets by some senior officials in the President’s Office and there is an attempt to undermine the president with Mutodi claiming to have contacts with some people, whom he said were the real people with power in the country,” said a government official.
“He has some bigwigs behind him. All what he was doing had the backing of very senior people.
“These are the people, who were giving him the confidence to insult his seniors in government.
“He was telling people that there was a new power base in government and was trying to recruit them into his camp.
“He told some people, known Mnangagwa loyalists, that they had sold out, but he was asked who was now leading a new centre of power as he claimed.”
The official claimed that Monica Mutsvangwa was one of the ministers that Mutodi’s alleged backers had targeted and they wanted her pushed out.
Moyo was not picking calls yesterday while permanent secretary for presidential communications Regis Chikowore referred questions to Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba, who also did not answer his mobile phone.
Mutodi promised to return calls, but did not do so up to the time of going to print while Monica Mutsvangwa was said to be attending a funeral.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Mashonaland East said Mutodi had been removed from his position in the provincial executive pending a disciplinary hearing.
This followed a hastily arranged meeting of the Zanu PF provincial executive in Murewa.
Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, the ruling party’s provincial executive, said Mutodi would soon be dragged before a disciplinary tribunal.
“Following the sacking of Cde Mutodi as deputy minister of Information, Broadcasting Services and Publicity in government by His Excellency Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Mashonaland East Zanu PF provincial executive committee sat down and deliberated on the issue and agreed that due disciplinary processes be carried out,” he said.
“The province resolved that in terms of article 10 section 74 (1), Cde Mutodi be issued with a prohibition order and notice of charges in writing as the party moves forward to institute the necessary disciplinary action against him.
“The prohibition order is in regard to his position as provincial member in Mashonaland East Province,” he said.
Rashweat Mukundu, a Harare-based political analyst, said it was clear that Mutodi had stepped on the toes of some powerful people in government due to the manner he was dismissed.
“He stepped on too many toes, unfortunately toes of the most powerful people in government especially looking at his attacks on SB Moyo a couple of weeks back,” Mukundu said.
“This is a continuation of factionalism in Zanu PF, more so, with reports that there are contestations on whether Mnangagwa should stand in 2023 with a faction reportedly led by the vice-president [Chiwenga] wanting someone to take over.
“Mutodi could also be pushing a factional agenda and has obviously fallen because of the pushback by the other faction.”
Alexander Rusero, a media expert, said Mutodi had failed to read the politics in Zanu PF and got carried away.
“You don’t tamper and tinker with political kingmakers and in your imagination think that you will remain politically relevant,” Rusero said.
“Between Energy, Moyo and Mutsvangwa, we all know who matters politically and it has been proven by his dismissal.
“If you look at the position of SB Moyo and Mutsvangwa in Zanu PF and their stature to Mnangagwa, I think they are what Rex Nhongo was to (the late) Robert Mugabe.
“You can equate Chiwenga to (the late Josiah) Tongogara in the political context, unfortunately for Tongogara he died, for Chiwenga, he is still there.
“Mutodi is a combination of political foolishness and arrogance that has landed him where he is.”
University of Zimbabwe political science guru Eldred Masunungure said Mutodi had left Mnangagwa with no choice, but to fire him because of his errant behaviour.
“That was inevitable, he had gone too far. I don’t think he was representing any factional interest of anyone,” Masunungure said.
“He was neither toeing the party nor government line and was causing dysfunctionality in government and particularly, the president himself as failing to control things.
“It was a way of instilling some amount of discipline.”
Factionalism had ebbed in Zanu PF following the ouster of Mugabe in a military coup in 2017, but camps are beginning to emerge pitting Mnangagwa’s supporters against those of Chiwenga.