11 March 2016

Zimbabwe: G40 Pushes for Cabinet Reshuffle

Several cabinet ministers could lose their jobs as President Robert Mugabe mulls a cabinet reshuffle under pressure from the G40 faction which wants colleagues aligned to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa booted out of government.

The G40 faction, whose major weapon has been First Lady Grace Mugabe's proximity to power, has been gaining ground against the Mnangagwa faction as it pushes for yet another cabinet reshuffle to strengthen its position in the succession race.

Since the G40 faction teamed up with the Mnangagwa faction to ruthlessly crush former Vice President Joice Mujuru's faction in December 2014, Mugabe has reshuffled his cabinet three times, destabilising government in the process.

"Nonetheless, the G40 faction is smelling blood and is pushing for another reshuffle as part of efforts to slowly, but surely decimate the Mnangagwa faction. The faction last week successfully pushed for the ouster of War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and his wife Monica, who was a deputy minister, but still wants more changes," said a senior government official.

In December 2014, Mugabe fired Mujuru and 16 ministers and deputy ministers. Mujuru was accused of being corrupt and incompetent as well as plotting to assassinate and topple him.

He then appointed Mnangagwa to replace Mujuru and Phelekezela Mphoko to take over from the late John Nkomo. Women's Affairs minister Oppah Muchinguri was moved to the Higher Education ministry to replace fired Oliver Muchena

Mugabe also swore in five new ministers, among them Samuel Undenge who replaced Dzikamai Mavhaire as energy minister, Supa Mandiwanzira who replaced Webster Shamu and Christopher Mushohwe who took over from Francis Nhema as indigenisation minister.

Prisca Mupfumira took over from Nicholas Goche as Labour minister, while Mutsvangwa was appointed War Veterans minister.

In July, last year Mugabe moved Jonathan Moyo from the Information ministry to the Higher education ministry, while Muchinguri was moved to the Water ministry.

Mugabe also moved long-serving Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi to the State Security ministry. He was replaced by Ignatius Chombo who had previously served as Local Government minister.

Saviour Kasukuwere was moved from the Water, Environment and Climate ministry to the Local Government ministry.

In September 2015, Mugabe made more cabinet appointments, bringing on board Joram Gumbo as Transport minister while moving Obert Mpofu to the Macro-Economic Planning ministry. He appointed his nephew Patrick Zhuwao to the Indigenisation ministry previously held by Mushohwe who was moved to the Information ministry.

Tabetha Kanengoni was appointed Minister of State in Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko's office, while Makhosini Hlongwane was appointed Minister Without Portfolio.

A week later, he fired Sports and Recreation minister Andrew Langa and replaced him with Hlongwane.

Last week, Mugabe fired Mutsvangwa and appointed his deputy Tshinga Dube as minister. On Monday this week Mugabe dropped Mutsvangwa's wife, Monica, as Macro-Economic Planning deputy minister.

A top government official this week said several ministers are not sure how long they will hold onto their jobs given the push for another reshuffle.

"The constant cabinet reshuffles caused by the factional fights are destabilising cabinet and government work plans. There is also job insecurity, no one knows what tomorrow holds. In addition, some ministers such as Oppah Muchinguri have held three portfolios in little over a year which is quite unusual," said an official.

"In December 2014, she was moved from the Women Affairs ministry to Higher Education and in July 2015 she was moved to the Water ministry. There has been a lot of destabilisation since the Mujuru faction was purged and indications are that the situation will continue for some time."

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