VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF faction and government allies are pushing for a clear-out in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) where they say ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s loyalists remain ensconced in powerful positions.
High-level official sources say Mnangagwa’s allies particularly want the three deputy secretaries to chief secretary in the OPC Misheck Sibanda, retired Colonel Christian Katsande, Justin Mupamhanga and Ray Ndhlukula, removed.
The sources say Katsande, Mupamhanga and Ndhlukula are well-known Mujuru loyalists who are still entrenched in President Robert Mugabe’s office despite that Mnangagwa’s allies want them out.
The OPC is headed by Sibanda who is widely regarded as a top Mnangagwa ally. Some say he is from Mnangagwa’s Midlands home area and could even be a relative.
Sibanda, as the chief secretary to cabinet, is the secretariat boss in the OPC and head of the civil service, while Ndhlukula is responsible for administration and modernisation. Katsande has the economic research and policy analysis mandate, while Mupamhanga is in charge of implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes.
“After the purges in Zanu PF, which removed Mujuru and all her top allies, Mnangagwa loyalists want her adherents who occupy critical government positions to go,” a senior official said yesterday. “Apart from those in the security structures and various ministries, some of the most targeted officials are Katsande, Mupamhanga and Ndhlukula.”
The OPC has a number of departments that support the presidency in executing its duties including health advisory, Organ for National Healing and Reconciliation, public affairs and knowledge management and modernisation, among other departments.
Government officials close to Mnangagwa say Ndhlukula has been liaising with the chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mariyawanda Nzuwah to deploy Mujuru loyalists to strategic positions in the OPC and other government departments “to make sure that officers aligned to their cabal hold key positions, and those who were not aligned to them are redeployed or demoted”.
Mujuru was removed as vice-president during the controversial Zanu PF congress last December in a cut-throat succession battle and later fired alongside eight ministers officially for conduct inconsistent with their formal responsibilities. She was also later expelled from Zanu PF in April this year for, among other charges, allegedly plotting to remove Mugabe from power through dirty methods, including assassination.
Mnangagwa’s allies accuse Ndhlukula of using director of resources in the OPC, a J G Chijairira who is believed to come from Dotito, Mujuru’s rural home, to demote and dismiss staffers perceived be in a rival Zanu PF faction.
“Officers dismissed from the OPC include Mutati, Dzichiuya and Ngani, all on false and flimsy allegations of misconduct. Victimisation of Karanga officers has become a culture in the OPC,” said one official who accused the Mujuru faction of staffing government with Zezuru officials on regional and tribal grounds.
A Mnangagwa ally said the deployment of the three deputy chief secretaries to the OPC was meant to sabotage Sibanda linked to the Mnangagwa camp.
“It would be far-fetched for the new VPs to expect any form of assistance or co-operation from Katsande, Mupamhanga and Ndhlukula. They must be removed as soon as possible from the OPC because as long as they occupy those positions, ZimAsset (the government’s economic blue-print) will not be fully implemented.”
Mnangagwa’s allies believe CSC is also against their faction and its leader, save for commissioners Job Whabira and Clara Nondo.
The Mnangagwa camp also thinks Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Johannes Ndanga, who they claim is a Mujuru ally and Nzuwah’s relative, has been influential in the recruitment of pro-Mujuru loyalists in the civil service.
“Most of the directors, deputy directors, principal directors and permanent secretaries who were deployed during the inclusive government were either from the Mujuru camp or the opposition MDC-T — not from the Mnangagwa side — and they continue to serve in the current government,” said the official. “We need to change this situation urgently.”
Efforts to get comment from Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered.
The demands for the immediate removal of Katsande, Mupamhanga and Ndhlukula follow concerted efforts by Mnangagwa’s allies to push for security sector changes, particularly the removal of CIO director-general retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe and most of his senior directors for political reasons, as they are believed to be staunch Mujuru loyalists.
Mnangagwa’s allies also want police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and his deputy Godwin Matanga booted out. The camp is also seeking the removal of Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Perence Shiri and Zimbabwe Prison and Corectional Services commander Paradzai Zimondi.