TINASHE MAKICHI /SYDNEY KAWADZA
PRESSURE is mounting on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to reshuffle his cabinet within the fractious ruling Zanu PF ahead of upcoming 2023 harmonised elections.
The anticipated reshuffle, according to well-placed sources, is being fuelled by continued internal strife within the ruling party after a restructuring exercise that left it more divided than ever during the recent provincial elections.
The remnants of the divisive internal election has already claimed the head of Mnangagwa’s trusted lieutenant and former State Security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube over allegations of fuelling divisions in the ruling party.
The sources said there was increasing pressure on Mnangagwa to dump Cabinet ministers who lost the recently held provincial elections.
According to the sources within the ruling party, the Zanu PF Midlands provincial leadership is lobbying for the dismissal of Local Government minister July Moyo for his alleged “unholy alliance” with Mudha.
The sources revealed that the provincial leadership still viewed Moyo as a powerful figure in the Midlands province due to his ministerial position with some pushing for his dismissal while others want him to be demoted.
“Midlands warring factions still see July Moyo as a powerful figure in the province due to his ministerial position. The factions are linking Moyo to the recently sacked Mudha. The push is either to have him sacked or demoted to an inferior ministry,” said the source.
Independent legislator Temba Mliswa who is one of Moyo’s rabid critics through his Twitter handle, has always accused the Local Government minister of dividing the ruling party.
Contacted, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said he was not aware of the imminent Cabinet reshuffle.
“What you are asking for can only be revealed by the President and unless you have been with him at his farm, you would be in a better position to know what he is thinking,” Charamba said.
President Mnangagwa is currently on his annual leave and is reportedly resting at his Precabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe.
However, observers told the Independent that the imminent reshuffle could be a litmus test for Mnangagwa who has always been the godfather of the Midlands province especially in dealing with his long-time trusted lieutenant Moyo.
Some also opined that the Mudha case has proved that the Zanu PF leader is now prepared to dump his erstwhile allies for political capital.
Zanu PF provincial chairman Larry Mavima refused to comment on the matter.
“Absolutely no comment on that matter as the province plays no role whatsoever in the appointment or dismissal of ministers by His Excellency. It is actually a very mischievous suggestion or point,” Mavima said.
Meanwhile, reports from the ruling party indicate that members of the Zanu PF youth league leadership recently approached Mnangagwa registering their displeasure with Sports minister Kirsty Coventry.
The Independent is reliably informed that the youths are routing for the deputy minister Tinomuda Machakaire, who is a member of the league’s leadership to take over.
“The youth league leadership is not happy with Kirsty and there has been serious lobbying to have her re-assigned.
“The league is rooting for Machakaire to be elevated while considering that he may be a capable trump card for Zanu PF in terms of winning the youth vote in the upcoming elections. The youths are also pushing for someone who is active in politics to take over that ministry,” a Zanu PF source said.
Another source within the youth league added that Coventry is no longer popular considering her technocratic stature and that the ministry under her stewardship is usually used as a vehicle to mobilise the youth vote for Zanu PF.
“It’s a mobilisation ministry but she has failed to achieve that considering that she is not a politician. That appointment was also expected to at least achieve a balance, politically, so that the country is accepted on the international arena especially with ED’s re-engagement efforts.
“This has actually failed because there are no tangible results to these efforts. Have we been readmitted into the Commonwealth? No! We are still a pariah state on the international scene,” the source said.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF acting youth leader Tendai Chirau said he was not aware of any meeting to lobby for the removal of the Sports minister adding that the youth league supported the President’s appointments.
“I don’t know about the meeting but what I know is that our first secretary is accommodating. Therefore, I wouldn’t know the contents of the meeting but we are happy with the way the first secretary is executing his revolutionary mandate and we are also happy with his appointments,” Chirau said.
London-based political commentator, Professor Stephen Chan said a Cabinet reshuffle in Zimbabwe was pointless or insignificant contributing nothing to the solution of the current problems.
“To a large extent, Cabinet reshuffles are like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. There are very few on the government front bench, or among candidates for the front bench, with the technocratic vision and skills – not to mention probity and honesty – required to take Zimbabwe forward.
“But Mudha and his allies obviously had to go, given the blatant nature of their undemocratic electioneering,” he said.
Professor Chan added that Coventry’s appointment was meant to propagate Zimbabwean sports development at home and internationally. There is nothing at all in her portfolio that says she should act for any single political party.
“Right, she is the only Minister of Sport in Sadc who has actually been an international sports-person. The image of Zimbabwe would suffer if another unfit person was appointed to this portfolio,” he said.
There is continued contestation within the ruling party and Mnangagwa is under pressure to unify the ruling party through instituting an effective tribal balance on Cabinet appointments.
Other analysts believe that for Zanu PF to excel in the upcoming elections, it has to grow as a revolutionary party through robust debate that adds value on accountability and transparency.