OUTGOING Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF faction — the so-called Tsholotsho group — dramatically bounced back into the top Zanu PF echelons of power after he was appointed Zanu PF co-vice-president on Wednesday, while many of his colleagues who were suspended during the 2004 succession fiasco are now back in the fold.
Architects of the Tsholotsho debacle, who include Mnangagwa, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Psychomotor minister and Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe, and provincial chairpersons comprising July Moyo, Daniel Shumba, and Mike Madiro, among others, were accused of plotting a palace coup against President Robert Mugabe before they rebuked or suspended.
However, this week they officially bounced back in full force. Mnangagwa was appointed vice-president, putting one foot in power given Mugabe’s old age and faltering performance.
The resurgent Tsholotsho group clinched influential positions in the central committee, politburo and possibly in cabinet as new ministerial appointments are set to announced today to replace fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s allies who were removed on Tuesday.
The central committee is packed with Mnangagwa’s allies and supporters. The same applies to the politburo where remnants of Mujuru’s support base have been cowed and cannot regroup to fight back as they are still shocked and scattered but most likely would adopt an if-can’t-beat-them-join-them approach.
Among the top 10 senior politburo members, only Simon Khaya and Moyo Simbarashe Mumbengegwi are pro-Mujuru. Khaya Moyo, who wanted to be vice-president, was demoted from chairman to spokesman, while Mumbengegwi, who had lost in Masvingo, was rescued by Mugabe.
New secretary for administration Ignatius, Obert Mpofu (Finance), Saviour Kasukuwere (Commissariat), Kembo Mohadi (Security), Oppah Muchinguri (Transport) and Patrick Chinamasa (Legal Affairs) are Mnangagwa’s allies and sympathisers.
There are also many other Mnangagwa allies in the full politburo team now reduced from 64 to 30 members. Mnangagwa’s allies also dominate politburo departments deputies who no longer sit in the organ’s meetings and that’s where you find July Moyo (deputy secretary for administration), Lovemore Matuke (deputy secretary for national security), Daniel Shumba (deputy secretary for transport and social welfare) and Paul Mangwana (deputy secretary for legal affairs) and even his wife Auxillia who is deputy secretary for Environment and Tourism, among others.
After the removal of Mujuru, who position was given to Mnangagwa, it is likely that his allies would also replace the pro-former vice-president ministers fired on Tuesday. A clean-up of the deputy ministers would also open more opportunities for Mnangagwa’s associates, ensuring all party top structures and cabinet are completely dominated by one faction.
While the Mnangagwa camp was bouncing back, the faction controlled by former Mujuru is in disarray after many heavyweights, including Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Nicholas Goche, Francis Nhema, Dzikamai Mavhaire, Munacho Mutezo, Lazarus Dokora and Mujuru herself, among many others, were purged in the run up to congress.
As a result, Mnangagwa emerged the biggest winner after landing the vice- presidency, a position he was eyeing in 2004 when his faction’s ambitions were crushed after Mugabe suspended six provincial chairpersons backing him and castigated his other allies.
Jonathan Moyo, who was one of the Tsholotsho Declaration architects, was also fired from both the government and the party for defiance, while War Veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, now dismissed for supporting Mujuru, was ironically suspended.
Observations at the congress confirmed a strong rebound by Mnangagwa and his faction whose members were on cloud nine, while Mujuru’s supporters appeared glum and resigned to their fate as they counted their heavy losses.
Mujuru and her high-profile allies — Mutasa and Goche as well as nine ousted provincial chairpersons, among others — did not attend after being purged from the party structures ahead of congress.
By contrast, those celebrating in 2004 cut pitiful sights as they were hauled over the coals or threatened with possible arrests over corruption allegations.
Mujuru’s allies who attended the congress held from December 2-7 were subjected to humiliation as Zanu PF supporters shouted their names each time Mugabe spoke of sell-outs.
In 2004, Mnangagwa’s faction was purged after being accused of a palace coup following their Dinyane episode.
However, writing in the Zimbabwe Independent in 2006, a Mnangagwa ally Pearson Mbalekwa said the story of Tsholotsho was told albeit by the beneficiaries of a political party that is “fraught with hate, fear and a tyrannical leadership”.
Mbalekwa said “the actual coup d état against the constitution was not by the so-called Tsholotsho conspirators, but by the politburo that sat at Zanu PF headquarters on November 18 2004 to undermine the party constitution”.
“The constitution was illegally amended to accommodate the preferred candidate of the political mandarins of Zanu PF when it had become clear that Mnangagwa was heading for a clear victory if the party procedure was followed to elect a new vice-president during the congress which was due in December 2004,” he said.
“These political mandarins felt Mnangagwa had to be stopped by every conceivable plot that could be hatched. Those members of the politburo that gathered at the Zanu PF headquarters on November 18 2004 totally and with no regard whatsoever to the requirements of the guiding principles of the party, usurped the power of the central committee which by its very nature is empowered to deal with constitutional matters.”