ON our front page this week, we carry a story revealing that Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was forced to take early retirement by the Ministry of Justice — overseen by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Editor’s Memo,Faith Zaba
Chidyausiku was forced to retire around August last year ahead of his departure at the end of next month in a bid to manoeuvre his replacement with Judge President George Chiweshe, who was subsequently appointed acting chief justice ahead of the current deputy Luke Malaba.
Mugabe only became aware of the retirement three months later when he met the chief justice at national hero Cephas Msipa’s funeral in October. He then told him to report back to work. Upon his return, Chidyausiku presided over the process of selecting his successor through public interviews.
The revelations that Chidyausiku had been ordered into early retirement without Mugabe’s knowledge is indicative of the turmoil in the ruling Zanu PF as the party continues to flounder as a result of the unaddressed succession issue.
The unresolved battle to succeed Mugabe has crippled government operations. The factional fights to succeed the nonagenarian leader who is becoming increasingly frail as old age and dotage takes its toll — pitting Mnanagagwa and his Lacoste faction and G40, a grouping that has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe — have become so vicious that they spilled into cabinet, paralysing government operations.
The country has witnessed clashes along factional lines between ministers over the years, more so in 2016, highlighting the dysfunctionality in government.
The position of the chief justice is just but one of a number of issues that have become platforms for factional battles with the controversial indigenisation policy, the proposal to reinstate the clause in the party constitution which states that one of the VPs should be a woman being, among other areas of contestation.
The factional battle to succeed Mugabe took a new twist at the end of last year with some Zanu PF provinces and the Youth League proposing that Mugabe’s deputies be elected as was the case previously.
If anything, the Chidyausiku debacle shows there are parallel structures in government created on factional lines that have spawned chaos at a time when the country is enmeshed in a deepening economic crisis characterised by the current liquidity crunch that has resulted in companies failing to import vital raw materials, capacity utilisation of less than 50%, company closures, massive job losses and more recently the outbreak of the primitive water borne disease typhoid.
It is shocking that a country’s chief justice can be forced to retire without the president’s knowledge. If anything the revelations point to the fact that Mugabe, who has badly mismanaged the country and impoverished its citizens, is no longer in charge of running state affairs. It also shows that the nonagenarian leader, who is turning 93 next month, is no longer paying attention to detail. He is no longer able to run government as one unit, demonstrating clearly that the centre is weak and is no longer holding.
The scandalous exposé gives credence to our argument that Mugabe chooses to spend most of the year globetrotting at the expense of government and that he now has a hands-off approach to government business.
As shown by latest events, the explosive succession battle has unleashed a wave of instability and turmoil not only within Zanu PF but also the country as a whole.
The discord in government is a clear sign that if Mugabe does not address the succession issue, it will have devastating consequences for the country.