COLOGNE – Military tactician, Vice President Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, has reportedly set the stage for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s removal from power in 2020, Spotlight Zimbabwe reported.
Senior army officers linked to the VP’s faction and sources inside the presidency, this week revealed that Chiwenga is allegedly going to boot out Mnangagwa from office “at all costs”, following the latter’s attempt to secure a life presidency, and reneging on a gentlemen’s agreement with the former to only rule for one presidential term, amid indications from the just ended ruling Zanu PF 18th annual people’s conference in Goromonzi, that Mnangagwa wants to run unchallenged as Zanu PF candidate in the 2023 presidential elections and beyond.
The disclosures come at a time when, there is growing political speculation of China’s involvement in Chiwenga’s plan, after the VP returned back home last month, following four months of intensive medical treatment at a military hospital in Beijing.
Chiwenga’s security and communications are now believed to be managed by Chinese intelligence operatives inside the country, working with his inner circle home security team, that was with him throughout his medical troubles in Beijing.
China is also said to be irate with Mnangagwa’s foreign policy stance of wanting to “Look West” as opposed to his predecessor’s Look East Policy, which gave preferential treatment and security to Chinese investments and economic interests in Harare. Chiwenga’s move to get rid of Mnangagwa next year, is in line with the army’s communication to China two years ago, that the ruling party’s leader power expires in 2020, so it might seem.
As first reported by Spotlight Zimbabwe, on 22 March this year, a special delegation of senior Zimbabwean military officials reportedly told Chinese generals that Mnangagwa’s political reign will expire in 2020, and that he was going to be an interim caretaker president up to the period, before the military replaces him with their preferred successor, a few days prior to former leader, President Robert Mugabe’s November 2017 coup topple.
Chiwenga visited China between November 8 to November 10 2017, when he was still the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, together with an elite delegation comprising officials from the army and air force, who according to a military attache stationed in Beijing, told their Chinese counterparts that Mnangagwa would be in power “for no more than three years” as a “stopgap measure” to stabilise the country, with a Zimbabwean general likely to takeover until 2023 to finish off Mnangagwa’s presidential term and then handover the country to a civilian leadership.
“Things are not what they seem to be. Don’t be fooled by the calm climate,” said one of the senior officers based at the Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in the capital. “2020 is going to be a defining year in our country’s history and politics. Our own(Chiwenga) is going to remove iye aripo uyo (the incumbent leader) and become president, at all costs to save the country from total economic collapse. I hate to say that it’s going to be a bloody affair, and we are likely going to see a declaration of a state of emergency by the ZDF leadership, to manage government change, but not a coup.”
Sources in the presidency said, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has already warned Mnangagwa about the potential of a “violent revolution” induced by the opposition’s planned series of mass demonstrations throughout the country next year designed to force Mnangagwa to step down.
“The CIO have a report warning the president about a potential people’s revolution to topple him from power by June 2020 engineered by Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance,” the sources said. “The insurrection is expected to be violent, and there are fears of a superpower’s hand in all this. Given such a scenario, we are likely going to see the ruling party sending it’s supporters to go and counter the opposition’s street demonstrations. The scariest part is that, the vice president’s backers in the army, according to the intelligence findings might seize the opportunity as a pretext to restore order in the country, resulting in a subtle change of the constitutional order of government.”
Chamisa on Monday said his party was going to remove Mnangagwa from power in the next five months of the new year if dialogue fails to yield positive results, while addressing thousands of party supporters at Chisamba grounds in Mutare.
Another long serving official in the presidency said confirmation that all is not well for the president, and that Chiwenga is on the verge of ousting him is the fact that Mnangagwa has reached out to former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Tanzanian leader, John Magufuli, to mediate in the country’s political crisis, while “coup and impeachment proofing” himself.
“Thabo Mbeki was not just paying a private visit this week,” she said. “There are efforts underway for the former South African president to broker a political pact between Mnangagwa, Chamisa and the other smaller parties under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), to recognise him as president, and in return Chamisa gets parliamentary recognition as leader of the main opposition with a paid government salary and other perks. Polad actors under the mooted agreement will also receive state salaries equivalent to that of cabinet ministers. Call it coup and impeachment proofing, but it might work.”
On Magufuli involvement, the official said Mnangagwa is courting support from the new Sadc chairman, who is understood to have spoken against new coup attempts in Zimbabwe.
Magufuli visited the country in May, only telling the media that, he had come to cement existing ties between Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Tanzanian president went on to extend his working visit to the country, giving credence to some online media reports that there was more to the visit, than the official news.
Chiwenga is now expected to finish off Mnangagwa’s term, and will receive a Chinese bailout to stabilise the economy until 2023, when a civilian leader and successor of his choice, with a leaning towards Beijing is expected to takeover, army sources have said. China has ruled out Mnangagwa’s capacity to reform and turnaround the economy.
Publisher and political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza, on Wednesday told South African national broadcaster, Sabc, that Mnangagwa had lost China’s approval, and that his government is the worst he has ever seen in his life.
“We have literally a military state in the country,” said Mandaza. “It’s the worst government ever in terms of composition and content. They have no capacity to turn things around, and this observation shared not only by those of us who are closer to the situation, but even the international community including the Chinese. They say this government has no capacity to turn around this country. They have no capacity to reform.”