CIVIL servants and parastatals bosses close to senior Zanu PF officials who are casualties of the party’s factional fights fear a backlash which could see them removed from their positions after the ongoing Zanu PF congress whose backdrop witnessed Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies being ruthlessly purged and crushed.
Although civil servants work for government and are employed by the Public Service Commission and not Zanu PF, some senior civil servants, just like officials in the country’s security sector, have become close to some politicians and were actively involved in the ruling party and its factional politics.
Some civil servants and parastatals bosses, officials said, were also advancing the business interests of Zanu PF factions, hence their unease and fears of a backlash. Several party officials linked to Mujuru lost their central committee positions following yet to be proved allegations that they were corrupt and plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Senior civil servants told the Zimbabwe Independent this week the disquiet was evident in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Postal and Courier Services following minister Webster Shamu’s ouster.
Fear also pervaded other ministries headed by ministers who are facing purging in a likely cabinet reshuffle any time from now.
“(Some of) the staff in Shamu’s office last week wept when they learnt of the ouster of the minister. It was just unbelievable,” said a source. “His ouster left them unsure of their future, with some fearing that they would be re-assigned to lesser posts, the pool or even fired.”
In his speech at the official opening of the Zanu PF congress yesterday, Mugabe threatened to arrest Mujuru and ministers who support her. He also threatened to fire civil servants involved in factional fights, in apparent reference to those suspected to have backed Mujuru.
The sources said not only was there fear among those in Shamu’s office but in a number of offices of senior Zanu PF officials who are also top government officials accused of attempting to oust Mugabe.
Other than Mujuru, several ministers among them Labour minister Nicholas Goche, Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, Education minister Lazarus Dokora, Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and Minister of State for Special Affairs Flora Bhuka failed to make it into the politburo.
Some of the ministers have been in cabinet for many years and had close working relations with top civil servants and parastatals bosses, most of whom were appointed through Zanu PF’s patronage system.
The state media has of late accused several parastatals and senior civil servants of facilitating shady deals to benefit Mujuru’s allies. These include Grain Marketing Board boss Albert Mandizha and Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development secretary Ringson Chitsiko who are accused of allegedly importing 52 000 tonnes of GMO+ maize from South Africa recently at a cost of US$180 per tonne and selling it to millers at US$390 per tonne.
Last week Deputy Energy minister Munacho Mutezo and Zesa officials were accused of abusing the parastatal’s funds by giving about US$40 000 to Manicaland Zanu PF’s Women’s League ahead of its conference in August to boost Mujuru’s bid to oust Mugabe.
Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa lead factions embroiled in an acrimonious fight to succeed Mugabe.