THE no-nonsense manner in which President Robert Mugabe fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru and 15 ministers illustrated how callous the 90-year old leader can be and his level of anger towards those he perceives to be plotting his downfall.
Mugabe fired seven more ministers and deputy ministers last Sunday in addition to the eight dismissed together with Mujuru three weeks ago.Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that some of the ministers received their dismissal letters in the dead of the night from intelligence officers, while others received theirs from the police.
“My letter was hand-delivered by a policeman in a B-Car (police patrol vehicle) at around 2pm. It has a scanned signature of the president, which suggests the letter was sent via email since he is on leave in Asia,” said a former minister.
Another dismissed minister, who was in the first batch to be fired, said his letter was delivered around 2am.
“Imagine being woken up to receive such a letter. They could not wait for daybreak to serve us with the dismissal letters,” he said.
Mujuru received her letter at 9pm three weeks ago.
Top government officials said former Information Technology minister Webster Shamu was literally frogmarched to his office in the middle of the night by Central Intelligence Organisation officers (CIOs), who first searched the office before telling him to pack his stuff.
“Shamu was taken to his office where he was told that he was fired. The intelligence officers searched his office and asked him to surrender the keys of his official Range Rover vehicle,” said the official, adding “he was then given a lift back to his house by the officers.”
The fired ministers are Shamu, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister), Francis Nhema (Indigenisation), Munacho Mutezo (Energy deputy minister), Fortune Chasi (Justice deputy minister), Nicholas Goche (Public Service), Flora Bhuka (Minister of State for Presidential Affairs), Sylvester Nguni (Minister of State in Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s office) and Dzikamai Mavhaire (Energy).
Also dismissed are Olivia Muchena (Higher and Tertiary Education), Tendai Savanhu (Lands deputy minister), Paul Chimedza (Health deputy minister), Tongai Muzenda (Public Service deputy minister), Patronella Kagonye (Transport deputy minister) and Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs minister).
Besides the drama surrounding the manner in which the ministers were fired, the dismissals could be costly to the already cash-strapped government. A fired minister said they were likely to be offered their official vehicles at book value.
“I understand that the vehicles will be valued, probably they will just use the book value when offered them for purchase,” he said. “It is a costly exercise because those who will replace us will need new vehicles as well.”
Government splashed close to US$20 million on luxury cars, including Mercedes Benz and SUVs for 26 cabinet ministers, 13 ministers of state and 24 deputies in September last year when the new government was sworn in. Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent then showed government bought top of the range Mercedes Benz E350 sedans and Toyota Land Cruisers VX200 for ministers and deputies who received a Land Rover Discovery SUV, a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux 4×4 double cab each.
This came at a time ministers in the coalition government took home Mercedes Benzes, Prados, Jeep Cherokees and Range Rovers for paltry amounts such as US$7 000 for two vehicles.