Mary-Kate Kahari– Embattled President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s power relinquishment deal, is allegedly being brokered in the background by the country’s former Ambassador to China, Christopher Mutsvangwa, on behalf of hardline securocrats who have shown Mnangagwa the door, for failing to resolve Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has gathered.
This publication, last week exclusively reported that the ruling Zanu PF leader’s departure from office has now been finalised by security chiefs, and his kingmaker deputy, Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, is going to takeover the reins of government from him as a transitional president, at a date and ceremony to be announced and broadcast on national television in due time.
A former intelligence minister during one of the late President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet, together with senior military officials all claiming to have intimate knowledge about Mnangagwa’s departure, confirmed this week that Mutsvangwa, himself a former special advisor to the president, is reportedly the secret broker of the army deal, that has since been completed.
“This is my realm,” said the former state security minister. “We do have access to these confidential matters, and I can tell you that Mnangagwa is going. Mutsvangwa is the military’s pointman on this, as he feels his role in Mnangagwa’s November 2017 ascendancy has not been recognised and fully appreciated by Mnangagwa and his allies. One can say they (Mnangagwa and Mutsvangwa) have had some kind of falling out.”
“Mutsvangwa is in very good books with the Chinese, which makes him a closet ally of VP Chiwenga by default, as the VP is now Beijing’s blue-eyed boy. Don’t read too much into media reports, Chiwenga and Mutsvangwa are political allies. The war veteran’s leader, is also believed to be involved in diplomatic engagement and communications for the military, as foreign capitals have began being notified and briefed about Mnangagwa’s exit.”
The former cabinet minister said there was possibility of Mnangagwa’s supporters resisting his ouster, by causing mayhem and riots, likely to attract opposition supporters joining in to do the opposite, by celebrating Mnangagwa’s demise, therefore causing deadly clashes. It is at this point the military is planning to step in, to bring order and sanity, while all but engineering Chiwenga’s passage to power.
“There’s the possibility of Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF supporters resisting his resignition, and wanting to cause riots and protests to defend and support Mnangagwa’s stay in office, but the army will have to once again step in to calm the crisis. They anticipate the opposition sending it’s supporters into the streets, to celebrate Mnangagwa’s stepping down, resulting in potentially deadly clashes with Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF backers. So we’re going to have a real military assisted intervention and transition in favour of Chiwenga’s passage to power, as opposed to the way Mugabe was removed, because he was under house arrest and was never afforded an exit deal like Mnangagwa.”
Although finer details of Mnangagwa’s departure deal are still hazy, information made available to Spotlight Zimbabwe, suggests that, just like Mugabe, Mnangagwa wants at least a US$10m payoff and immunity for his family. The beleaguered leader, is said to have “also been promised that his salary would continue to be paid for life”, while he keeps his motorcade, farm, businesses and state provided security detail among other benefits.
Mnangagwa currently earns an average monthly salary of about US$17 500. According to the Blue Book, a government document which details its expenditure and debts, a total of nearly US$1m is always allocated for salaries and allowances to Mnangagwa and his two deputies, Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi respectively.
High level army officials said, military bosses had been angered by Mnangagwa’s intention to contest for the 2023 presidential poll on the backcloth of economic ruin in the country, in direct contravention of a gentlemen’s pact, they agreed upon before installing him as Zimbabwe president.
“Senior military figures became angry with Mnangagwa, when he announced his intention of running for president in the 2023 presidential elections,” said the officials. “That was not the agreed plan, when the military coup was staged. Mnangagwa was supposed to be a one term president from 2018-2023. So basically the president’s attempt to overstay in power and attempting to outfox the military has backfired, because they have realised that Mnangagwa is using his rogue law tactics to amend a new constitution, which has not even been implemented to make himself a ‘Zimbabwe Tsar’ via a life presidency. The Constitutional amendements, especially the one doing away with elected vice presidential running mates, is simply designed to elbow out Chiwenga, because it is clear Mnangagwa intends to appoint new vice presidents in 2023. Unfortunately they thought the plan would succeed but Chiwenga returned from China on time in November 2019, at the very moment they had hoped to fast-track the amendment into law. Besides everything, Mnangagwa has totally failed to turn the economy around, and the army will not risk losing power and influence due to his administration’s failure.”
“Mnangagwa is reneging on the agreement reached with Chiwenga and the military, while he was in South African exile, after being fired by President Robert Mugabe, that he’d serve just a term, including finishing off Mugabe’s term,” they said. “Chiwenga was supposed to takeover from him in 2023, that was the pact for those who didn’t know. Honestly speaking, the president has digged his own grave because of his deceptive, dishonest and untrustworthy character. Military intelligence has always been tailing him from within, including his foreign trips as part of his presidential party, that’s how he was infiltrated. What has exposed and weakened Mnangagwa are some of his own inner circle, who have sold him out to military commanders. He’s done, because they now know his political mindmap, and will not allow him to run in 2023, therefore hammering out an exit deal being brokered by Mutsvangwa. It’s a done deal. What is left is just the formailty of his departure, because it has been finalised as you have reported.”
Mugabe fired Mnangagwa as VP in early November 2017 over allegations of, among other things, disloyalty, disrespect, deceit and unreliability.
Announcing Mugabe’s decision at a press briefing in the capital, then Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, said Mnangagwa’s discharge of duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities.
“In accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 Act of 2013, Section 329, 6th Schedule, Paragraph 14, Sub-paragraph (2), His Excellency has exercised his powers to relieve Honourable Vice President E.D. Mnangagwa, of his position as Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect,” said Moyo.
“It had become evident that his conduct in the discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities. The Vice President has consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability. He has also demonstrated little probity in the execution of his duties.”
Early last year in January, Mutsvangwa, was accused of leading a dramatic plot to oust Mnangagwa from power. Online publication ZimLive, reported that some Zanu PF rebels allegedly led by the Ambassador, had “initiated a process to recall President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the presidency”.
“At least 35 Zanu PF MPs met at the party’s headquarters in Harare on Friday night, where war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa laid out the plan,” the publication reported.
“The rebels are said to be considering a wildcard candidate to take over. Legally, Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga or Kembo Mohadi, the other Vice President, would assume the presidency on an acting basis until Zanu PF nominates a replacement, who could be a new name.”
Spotlight Zimbabwe reached out to Mutsvangwa on his mobile phone last week for a potential interview, but he had not come back to us before the paper went to bed last night. Our correspondent in Harare, also tried calling him for a comment, but all calls where disconnecting.
After the 2017 coup d’etat, Mutsvangwa, then an ally of the ousted VP Mnangagwa, praised former Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander at the time, Chiwenga for “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power” and hoped that the army would restore a “genuine democracy” and Zimbabwe as a “modern model nation”.
Last December, the former war veterans minister in Mugabe’s government, before being fired in 2016, said he was the undisputed champion of democracy in Zimbabwe, claiming he ousted two tyrants from power: colonial era’s Prime Minister Ian Smith and Mugabe.
“I have been at the forefront of ousting two tyrants in this country and you must at least give us credit. What happened in November 2017 was not a coup, but it was a restoration of order,” Mutsvangwa said at a platform to discuss national issues.
“There were people who had attempted to stage a coup trying to wipe out the military establishment, but they were removed through a counter coup. You do not remove the establishment with a pistol when they have guns.”