Unconfirmed reports from intelligence sources point at President Robert Mugabe doing a mini-cabinet reshuffle ‘soon” as Gideon Gono is named as a likely replacement for current Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa.
Said a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) source: “There is talk indicating that the president will replace Chinamasa with Gono any time.”
Chinamasa would be moved to another ministry as Mugabe, said the source, cannot afford to completely offload him now.
He added: “Suspicion is rising in Zanu PF and cabinet that Lacoste, the Mnangagwa camp, is working on an internal regime change plot.”
Gono and George Charamba, the presidential spokesperson, could not be reached for comments but cabinet reshuffles are normally a closely guarded secret.
If Mugabe goes ahead and shifts or removes Chinamasa, this would add another defeat to the Zanu PF faction led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chinamasa is widely believed to be one of the henchmen in the Mnangagwa camp and has been talking like the vice president on the need to court the west to give financial and investment support to Zimbabwe.
On the contrary, Mugabe has of late ratcheted up his anti-western rhetoric, blaming European countries and the US for delays in civil servants’ salaries and telling the west to “go hang”.
Three other high profile figures linked to the faction, Christopher Mutsvangwa, Munyaradzi Kereke and Johannes Tomana are already in the rut.
Mutsvangwa was fired from the ruling party even though he retains his position as the leader of the ex-combatants outfit that is strongly fighting for a Mnangagwa takeover.
The war vets reacted angrily to Mutsvangwa’s ouster and seemed to take a dig at Mugabe, saying they did not need party cards to be recognised as ex-combatants.
They also said firing Mutsvangwa would not fix the economy, at a time Zimbabwean citizens were protesting violently against the Mugabe establishment.
Mutsvangwa was fired for allegedly denigrating Mugabe’s wife, Grace, months after being stood down from the war vets ministry.
Kereke was this week slapped with an effective 10 year prison term for raping a teenage niece.
Tomana, the prosecutor general who was suspended from his job pending investigations into alleged abuse of office by a tribunal Mugabe appointed, initially blocked Kereke’s trial.
He was last week arrested at a Harare court on fresh charges of abusing office, some of them dating back to 2008 when he was the attorney general.
Grace Mugabe, who is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa, late last week re-emerged on the political scene and implicitly rapped the vice president.
While addressing a party meeting in the capital, she said those that had been gifted with high positions must be content with what they got instead of seeking higher office.
The statement was a repetition of what she said last year as an anti-Mnangagwa faction called Generation 40 and to which Grace is said to belong, went full throttle against Lacoste.
At the rally where she made the first statement, she was in the company of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who led a song dismissing a Karanga successor to Mugabe.
Mnangagwa is from the Karanga tribe in the Midlands province where he commands most of his support and is reportedly working behind the scenes, with a nod from most of the securocrats, to take over from Mugabe, 92.
Gono is a personal business and personal adviser to the Mugabe family and Grace was said to have backed him as a successor in 2014.
Mugabe has saluted him for presiding over another economic crisis through quasi-fiscal policies before 2009 when a coalition government was formed.
While Gono’s factional bias is not known publicly, he remains a blue-eyed boy of the president, who is facing increasing pressure to leave office despite vowing that he will contest the 2018 elections at 94