PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday dropped the bombshell on his deputy and wartime personal assistant, Emmerson Mnangagwa, axing him from government for allegedly “consistently and persistently exhibiting traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability”.
Mnangagwa’s expulsion came exactly 48 hours after Mugabe fired warning shots at a Zanu-PF youth interface rally in Bulawayo, and three years after the VP’s predecessor Joice Mujuru was fired from the same post on similar allegations.
Announcing the decision yesterday, Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo, who was accompanied by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, said Mnangagwa had been axed for, among other charges, failure to execute his duties in a proper manner.
“In accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment 20 Act of 2013 section 329 sixth schedule paragraph 14 sub-paragraph 2, His Excellency the President, Cde RG Mugabe, has exercised his powers to relieve Honourable Vice-President ED Mnangagwa of his position as Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect,” he said.
Khaya Moyo added: “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.”
Mnangagwa had, of late, become Mugabe and First Lady Grace’s punching bag, with the First Family accusing him of State capture and fanning factionalism.
Mugabe, however, did not immediately appoint Mnangagwa’s replacement, although ruling party youths had earlier in the day indicated that they wanted Grace to succeed him.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko remains Mugabe’s sole deputy ahead of the ruling party’s watershed extraordinary congress in December.
The last straw to break the camel’s back came on Saturday when Grace was publicly booed by a group of suspected hired Mnangagwa allies during the youth rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
Mugabe, who also addressed the rally, vowed to sack Mnangagwa “tomorrow”, describing the VP as “deceitful” and challenged him to form his own party.
The soon-to-be-94-year-old veteran Zanu-PF leader lampooned Mnangagwa for allegedly plotting to unseat him, and challenged problem provinces of Masvingo and Midlands to form their breakaway party.
A few months ago, Mnangagwa angered the First Family when his allies claimed that he fell sick and was airlifted to South Africa after allegedly consuming “poisoned” ice-cream supplied by Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy firm.
On his return, Mugabe forced Mnangagwa to issue a statement setting the record straight and distancing the First Family from the alleged assassination plot, to which he complied.
He, however, later went on to repeat claims that he had, indeed, been poisoned, although he did not explicitly name the Mugabes as the culprits.
Mnangagwa also stands accused of setting parallel party and government structures and has been named as the brains behind the ill-fated 2004 Tsholotsho declaration, which was aimed at catapulting him to the presidium ahead of Mujuru.
The purge on Mnangagwa is likely to trigger another mini-Cabinet reshuffle, as the witchhunt for his allies in government and Zanu-PF has already started in earnest in various provinces.
Grace set the tone on Sunday for a looming purge similar to the 2014 carnage, which saw over 100 top party officials axed alongside Mujuru.
The ruling party’s various provincial co-ordinating committees set the ball rolling by recommending that all Mnangagwa’s allies in government, Zanu-PF politburo and lower structures be pruned out.
Those likely to lose their Cabinet posts because of their alleged association with Mnangagwa include newly-appointed Cyber Security minister Patrick Chinamasa, Oppah Muchinguri (Water Development and Climate), Kembo Mohadi (State Security), Josaya Dunira Hungwe (Psychomotor) Christopher Mushohwe (National Scholarships in the President’s Office), Christopher Chingosho (Local Government deputy minister), Win Mlambo (Information Communication Technology deputy minister).
Others such as former War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube and ex-Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira were axed in a Cabinet reshuffle announced last month.
Yesterday, Zanu-PF Manicaland PCC recommended the expulsion of Chinamasa, Muchinguri, Mushohwe and Chingosho, while in Mashonaland West, Mupfumira and former Home Affairs deputy minister Ziyambi Ziyambi were shown the “red card”.
The Mashonaland East provincial ruling party PCC identified former governor Joel Biggie Matiza and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mabel Chinomona as Mnangagwa’s acolytes and showed them the exit door.
Masvingo province made a similar move at the weekend and raised the “red flag” on Hungwe and provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira.
Matabeleland North, South and Mashonaland Central have also moved to purge Mnangagwa’s allies in various party and government structures.
The party’s Midlands PCC has not yet met over the Mnangagwa issue.