PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week summoned Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and police bosses, then acting Defence minister Kembo Mohadi as well as Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga over skirmishes between the army and police in Harare that resulted in police officers being injured, it has emerged.
— Staff Writer.
The police and army last week on Friday issued a joint statement, saying the incident on Tuesday last week sparked by the spiking of tyres of an army truck was “unfortunate”.
Sources said Chombo met Mugabe accompanied by Deputy Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga for the meeting. Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi did not attend the meeting as he was away in Russia.
The security service chiefs had earlier met Mugabe for their Monday security briefings last week amid tensions over the veteran leader’s warning they should not interfere in his succession battle.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa had also on Monday last week met Mugabe on succession related matters where he reportedly offered to resign following his public flogging by the president and his wife Grace at recent women and youth rallies in Harare and Chinhoyi.
This comes as it emerged this week that Mugabe last week called off a lunch meeting with service chiefs which he had scheduled. The meeting was cancelled at the eleventh hour, but no reasons were given.
“Mugabe met security service chiefs last week, but this needs clarification. There were several meetings; first it was the usual Monday security briefings, then a meeting between Mugabe and Mnangagwa, followed by Mugabe and security chiefs in cabinet on Tuesday and later Mugabe and army and police teams,” a senior official in the Office of the President and cabinet said.
“The lunch meeting with security service chiefs was cancelled at the last minute. Mugabe ended up entertaining former South African President Thabo Mbeki and his associate, former member of his facilitation team in Zimbabwe during the Global Political Agreement negotiations, Dr Sydney Mufumadi.”
Sources said Chiwenga, Matanga and Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe appeared in cabinet on Tuesday to listen to a presentation by a local advocator for the establishment of an African central bank based in Harare and a continental currency called Afra.
On the police-army clashes, Chombo and Chiwenga explained the skirmishes to Mugabe, indicating the situation would be resolved amicably. An investigation has since been launched to find out the causes of the violent skirmishes.
Mugabe has been trying to calm the nerves after attacking military chiefs for meddling in succession politics
While addressing the Zanu PF Women’s League national assembly at party headquarters in Harare recently, Mugabe told the military to remain in the barracks. He said in Zanu PF “politics leads the gun; not the other way round”, in remarks widely seen as targeting Chiwenga, who of late has been brazenly interfering in partisan party politics.
Chiwenga is considered a pillar of strength for the faction supporting Mnangagwa’s presidential bid which is engaged in a war of attrition with the G40 camp that has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Addressing a youth interface rally in Chinhoyi recently, Mugabe hinted he would retire some army generals and absorb them in government
“We give immense respect to our defence forces. Most of those in leadership are persons we were with outside the country and we continue to respect them as revolutionaries,” he said. “Yes, they will retire and we must find room for them in government so they don’t languish, so they continue the struggle now, political struggle together with all of us in the leadership of the country and this is what we expect to happen.”