Combative Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, is reportedly on his way to become president of the country and first secretary of the ruling Zanu PF party before the next election slated for July 2023, Spotlight Zimbabwe has exclusively revealed.
According to two current serving cabinet ministers and high level military sources, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is unlikely to stay longer in office anymore and finish his first term, as a coterie of securocrats backing Chiwenga want him to take charge by 2021, in a bid by the army to finally run the presidency and have Chiwenga’s potential successor from the military ranks ready to take up one of the VP slots come 2023.
As matters stand, Mnangagwa and Chiwenga although putting up a united front in public, are drifting apart from each other with growing mistrust among the two comrades, who became political rockstars around this time last year, after successfully ochestrating a scheme to dislodge former leader, Robert Mugabe, from power through a cunning military putsch.
Mnangagwa’s supporters insist that he is already Zanu PF’s uncontested presidential candidate for 2023, and that the former state intelligence czar must be allowed to run for two full terms, to realise his 2030 vision to transform the country into middle-income status.
However, sources say Mnangagwa will be forced to step down in three years time, and allow Chiwenga to finish off his remaining two years in office.
“Some generals (names supplied) loyal to Chiwenga want him to now have his turn,” said one of the ministers who requested anonymity as he was delving into national security issues. “They feel that the general (Chiwenga) has earned it, after inviting Mnangagwa from exile last year to come back home and be the country’s leader, when he could have easily declared himself president. In their eyes the top commander risked a lot in removing Mugabe, as one mistake could have seen him being arrested for treason.”
Spotlight Zimbabwe has also gathered that not everyone in military circles was happy with what appeared to be Mnangagwa stripping Chiwenga of his military powers, when he repealed Statutory Instrument 96 of 2018, which assigned functions to the VP to be responsible for the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, after appointing his new cabinet.
“A lot is going on in terms of power struggles in the presidium, but I’m not authorised to talk to the press,” said a senior official with the defence ministry. “You need to talk to minister Muchinguri, noone else can talk to your publication, not even the public relations department. What I can say however is that the VP still has a lot of support and respect of the defence forces. He is credited with saving this administration from poll humiliation in July. So the talk going around is that he is ripe to be president before 2023, and that is in our favour.”
Muchinguri-Kashiri’s mobile phone kept going to voicemail the whole day yesterday when we tried reaching her for official comment.
Another minister said it must not take the nation by surprise if Chiwenga becomes president in 2021, as former leader Mugabe himself openly preferred Chiwenga to takeover the country as president instead of Mnangagwa, during negotiations after the November 2017 coup.
The minister also said Mugabe was suspicious of Mnangagwa’s soft spot for the “country’s enemies” and that he would reverse indigenisation and black empowerment laws. One example cited is the Marange diamonds saga where, Mnangagwa is said to be crafting a whole new diamond policy that will give China unperturbed economic access to the mineral without having to cede the previous Mugabe administration’s mandatory 51 percent nationalisation equity regime.
In recent times, the media has reported about a succession brawl inside Zanu PF to find Mnangagwa’s successor, as there are doubts the artful politician will stay long in power, due to health concerns following the ice-cream poisoning he suffered last year.
Early this month, we reported that Mnangagwa’s presidency could be on the line, as the opposition and his closet internal party foes intend to topple him from power Mugabe-style, via a Ukrainian Orange Revolution like protests campaign.