CAPE TOWN– Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, is all but now a heartbeat away from being elected by the ruling Zanu PF party, to takeover the party and government, by replacing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is going to be soon recalled by the party during a special Central Committee meeting anytime from now, Spotlight Zimbabwe, gathered yesterday.
The revelations also come at a time, when Mnangagwa is said to have been reportedly warned this week, by state intelligence, during a homeland security briefing with his national security minister, Owen Ncube, that he risks facing a “well synchronised Mali-like detention or insurrection” by disenfranchised junior and middle ranking officers in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), who are determined to dethrone him over meagre salaries and poor working conditions, if Zanu PF fails to recall him by year end, intelligence officials familiar with the matter disclosed last night.
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned on Tuesday and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, plunging a country already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests deeper into crisis.
Looking tired and wearing a surgical mask, Keita resigned in a brief address broadcast on state television after troops seized him along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials.
“If today, certain elements of our armed forces want this to end through their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said from a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako where he had been detained earlier in the day, news agency Reuters reported.
The brewing rebellion from disgruntled elements within the security forces, is said to be the brainchild of soldiers loyal and sympathetic to former retired generals, and military leaders unfairly retired or resigned by Mnangagwa ever since, the man fast approaching his octogenarian phase, toppled former leader President Robert Mugabe, in a coup in November 2017.
According to three senior Zanu PF politburo members who spoke to Spotlight Zimbabwe on Wednesday, Mnangagwa is going to be recalled from his position as Zanu-PF President and First Secretary, anytime soon, as the majority of the 49-member politburo organ are now rallying behind Chiwenga, and are endorsing that he leads a transitional authority that will run for the duration of Mnangagwa’s remaining tenure in office.
“I can confirm that the president is going to be recalled soon,” said one of the politburo members soon after attending their weekly meeting.
“There is a lot of tension and power struggle in the party, but the General (VP Chiwenga) has triumphed. The other presidium member is also supporting him in private, while the very senior leadership of the party has already made overtures to be included by the VP in his next government. You know them, I will not name them, but they were all long serving ministers in President Robert Mugabe’s administration. They’re all pretending to be allies of the president, yet they have already jumped ship to join the VP’s faction.”
Another politburo official, who is a former minister of an economic related portfolio, said VP Chiwenga now has the full support of almost all members of the politburo and that it was not by accident, that seven members failed to attend Wednesday’s meeting at the ruling party headquarters in Harare, due to “ill-health”.
“How do you explain the absenteeism of seven mostly senior politburo members, during this week’s meeting? It is a snub against Mnangagwa. Plans are at an advanced stage, to call for an Extraordinary Congress possibly before the end of this year, to ratify the elevation of VP Chiwenga, to become the new ruling party President and First Secretary.”
In his opening remarks at Wednesday’s politburo meeting, Mnangagwa disclosed that the seven officials had asked for a leave of absence because they were not feeling well.
“I have received an apology from comrade Sydney Sekeramayi who is not well, comrade Simbarashe Mumbengegwi who is in quarantine after we had sent him to attend the funeral of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, Lovemore Matuke who is not well, Josiah Hungwe who is not too well, Joshua Malinga who is not well, Christopher Mutsvangwa who is not well, Engelbert Rugeje who is not well and Richard Ndlovu, a newly-appointed member of the politburo,” said Mnangagwa.
Intelligence sources said Mnangagwa has been advised to review salaries of the armed forces, as the “one off cosmetic pay increments” he made last month was not enough.
The beleaguered Zanu PF leader, all but paid for his temporal stay in power, by crashing the 31 July protests, through symbolic pay increase for soldiers, which is said to be not enough to cushion them from the economic hardships faced by all Zimbabweans.