PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is mulling a fresh cabinet reshuffle, which government and party insiders say will be informed by the need to respond to growing corruption and incompetence among his ministers, as well as calming stormy relations within the party torn asunder by factionalism.
Mugabe, who is under pressure from war veterans calling on him to step down amid rising social unrest, intends to send a clear warning that those who are not loyal to him will not be tolerated.
The Generation 40 (G40) faction, whose major strength has been First Lady Grace Mugabe’s proximity to power, this week gained ground against a faction led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa following the expulsion from Zanu PF of four war veteran leaders and five other party members loyal to the vice-president.
The G40 faction has been pushing for yet another cabinet reshuffle to strengthen its position in the succession race and decimate the Mnangagwa faction.
If Mugabe buckles under pressure and reshuffles his cabinet, as is widely expected, it will be the fourth time he has done so since controversially winning the 2013 elections.
In 2014, he reshuffled his cabinet after axing former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her high-profile allies over unsubstantiated allegations of plotting his ouster and assassination.
According to one senior government official in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mnangagwa could lose his Justice portfolio although he will retain the vice-presidency.
Mnangagwa has of late been under fire for plotting to oust Mugabe, with a group of war veterans linked to the G40 faction imploring the president to boot him out.
A top government official said Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister, Christopher Mushohwe could be moved from the ministry.
“Mushohwe is not competently and effectively managing the Ministry of Information. Mugabe feels that Mushohwe has failed to defend government policies and positions where necessary. The state media is now factionally aligned and seems to be sympathising with Mnangagwa,” the government official said.
“Mushohwe was accused of failing to defend his colleagues when they are attacked in the media. In a recent cabinet meeting, Mushohwe was accused by Jonathan Moyo (Higher Education minister) of failing to defend Energy minister Samuel Undenge, who has been under attack in the media.”
Undenge has been under fire after being implicated in Zesa tender scandals, where his relationship with convicted fraudster Wicknell Chivayo has come under the spotlight.
“However, Mushohwe replied that in some cases it was government ministers leaking information, a defence that was rejected by his colleagues. The feeling is that Mushohwe is overridden by his permanent secretary George Charamba who seems to be running the show. For those reasons he might be moved and replaced by Moyo. Moyo is the total opposite of Mushohwe,” the top government official said.
The source said although Mugabe liked what Moyo was doing in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education where he has implemented the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) initiative, he thinks he would be more effective defending government policies.
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa’s job is also hanging on his job by a thread as Mugabe is unhappy with the measly revenues from diamond sales.
“The feeling is that Chidhakwa has done a very bad job and the consolidation of diamond mines is a fiasco. Companies under his ministry are ridden with allegations of corruption. There is a feeling that the poor performance of Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and the firing of top executives at the company was done without adequate consultation,” another government official said.
“Before ZCDC was formed, there were no adequate consultations and hence litigation. Due to all the combined factors, production has plummeted and now the company is contributing paltry figures to the fiscus. At the highest level of production in Marange, Mbada Diamonds used to give government about US$15 million per week, but now the contribution to Treasury has plunged to meagre amounts as low as US$200 000 per month.”
Mugabe has reportedly described the situation as “pathetic”.
“So on the basis of competence, Chidhakwa might not come back unless Mugabe overlooks his poor record and sympathises with him as a relative,” said the source.
Undenge is also in the firing line for corruption and incompetence.
“Although there is a steady supply of electricity, it is understood that this is not because of Undenge, but a huge drop in demand due to company closures, which has reduced consumption. Mugabe is not happy with the corruption allegations that have been raised against the minister,” a source said.
“Sydney Sekeramayi (Minister of Defence) is also under the spotlight although he is a seasoned minister, who has served in different portfolios. His time in the Ministry of Defence might be coming to an end because of his failure to competently handle war veterans’ issues. Sekeremayi (who is also Zanu PF secretary for war veterans) has been found wanting when it comes to controlling them. War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube is also under fire, as he also has been struggling to manage war veterans,” the top government official said.
Although the war veterans do not fall under Sekeramayi’s ministry, Mugabe recently demanded that the army should rein in the war veterans since they fall under the Defence Act.
Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi could also go for different reasons. Rural Development minister Abednigo Ncube has been mediocre quiet.
Zhuwao is on the ropes for failing to interpret the indigenisation laws and threatening to close companies.
Those who are seen to be performing well are Transport minister Joram Gumbo, Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government), Ignatius Chombo (Home Affairs), Moyo, Prisca Mupfumira (Labour) and Patrick Chinamasa (Finance).
However, Chinamasa, who has been virtually fighting a lone battle in government to re-engage the West through the debt clearance strategy with IFIs while attempting to attract investors and secure fresh funding, has been under serious scrutiny.
The source said Agriculture minister Joseph Made is likely to stay put and an anticipated US$5 billion funding from China is a major boost to his ministry. Other ministers likely to remain include Oppah Muchinguri (Environment), Douglas Mombeshora (Lands), Kembo Mohadi (State Security) and Obert Mpofu (Macro-Economic Planning).