Vice President Constantino Chiwenga put his head on the block for President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to return home after a fortnight as President subsequent to his dramatic escape to South Africa in early November 2017.

This followed his dismissal from being vice-president on 6 November 2017 by the late former president Robert Mugabe at the height of his succession battle.

He had control of the levers of state power in the aftermath of the subsequent coup on 14/15 November 2017 which ousted Mugabe, but now retired General Chiwenga is at the mercy of his hitherto political ally Mnangagwa.

After yesterday’s new cabinet appointment, Chiwenga was removed as Health minister and now just remains an appointed Vice-President – unelected and vulnerable – largely ceremonial.

Mnangagwa amended the constitution last year to ensure the clause on running mates is not implemented to frustrate Chiwenga so that he does not become an elected Vice-President with power and in the process a shoo-in successor.

So he remains appointed within the party, Zanu PF, and in the state or government.

This means institutionallly he is weak and politically vulnerable. After the 2017 coup, Chiwenga was very powerful: He was not just Vice-President, but also the Minister of Defence and War Veterans.

He stopped Mnangagwa from appointing Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, retained as Defence minister yesterday, Vice-President in 2017.

After that he demanded and got the position of Vice-President himself and Defence minister.

He was the king-maker.

The defence, war veterans and security portfolios were briefly given to Mohadi by Mnangagwa before Chiwenga seized them, grapoing defence and war veterans, while Mnangagwa retained security.

Mohadi was then given the National Healing and Reconciliation portfolio.
As shown by the above developments and many other critical interventions he made, Chiwenga controlled the levers of power and ran the show.

Then something happened and things changed.

Chiwenga became sick, possibly poisoned, as his military allies who helped Mnangagwa to come to power were being ruthlessly purged. Some were sent to the Siberia of politics as ambassadors, some removed and some died.

The coup coalition that toppled Mugabe was dismantled and decimated as Mnangagwa ruthlessly consolidated power.

Chiwenga almost died in the process of the purges amid revelations from ongoing court proceedings following his nasty divorce with Marry Mubaiwa that she wanted to kill him at the behest of the powers-that-be.

This played out in court recently when one of the witnesses further spilt the beans, shedding more light on the plot and attendant purges.

Prior to most of these events there was the Bulawayo White City in June 2018 which is believed to have been an attempted assassination of Mnangagwa by his interval rivals.

That also poisoned relations. Now there is no love lost between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga; they have become uneasy bedfellows and are at loggerheads amid delicate political brinkmanship over unresolved leadership issues.

Mnangagwa had promised to serve one term and allow Chiwenga to come in 2023 as part of the coup deal, but he reneged.

That created a new power struggle which is still on. The cabinet appointment yesterday further proved that.

Chiwenga, who looked uneasy during cabinet announcement, was further sidelined and is now at his weakest, especially because Mnangagwa did not reply on the military for his disputed re-election, but on a new clandestine CIO-run securocratic outfit, FAZ.

As the November 2017 coup drama unravels further, Chiwenga is fast becoming the biggest loser unless the tables turn, which will be Mt. Everest to climb for him. Not mission impossible, but a Herculean task.