Zimbabwe: Pressure for Cabinet Reshuffle Mounts

President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) is facing enormous pressure from senior Zanu PF officials and the military to reshuffle cabinet and fire some senior government officials for failing to stem the economic crisis, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

He is also under pressure to reshuffle the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) by injecting young blood and people with fresh ideas, sources said.

Mnangagwa, who swept to power through a military coup in November 2017 which toppled long-time late leader Robert Mugabe, is struggling to steady the ship and reverse the economic implosion.

This comes amid growing agitation within the Zanu PF hierarchy which fears the party could lose the 2023 general election if the ongoing economic decline persists.

As reported by the Independent last week, senior Zanu PF officials, who fought in Mnangagwa's corner in the race to succeed Mugabe, led by secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, two weeks ago resolved to pile pressure on Mnangagwa to allow them to superintend over ministers presiding over critical economic portfolios as they feel that cabinet ministers are failing to deliver.

Mpofu has been chairing weekly meetings attended by heavyweights such as Simon Khaya Moyo, Patrick Chinamasa, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Paul Mangwana, who were deployed to work full-time for Zanu PF although they preferred cabinet posts.

Mnangagwa's cabinet has served for over one year and critics say ministers have already proven their ineptitude by failing to turn around Zimbabwe's fortunes.

In response, sources said Mnangagwa has been meeting some of the targeted ministers individually over the past month to enquire about their plans, including Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema and Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.

"Although Mthuli (Ncube) is liked by Mnangagwa, he appears to be the one targeted the most by Zanu PF officials. They seem to have lost all faith in him. The army has also been giving out very negative reports about his economic policies of late. He however enjoys support from the President himself as of now," a senior government official said.

"Chasi has also been summoned by the President a few times to explain his plans, especially in light of these crippling power cuts. He is also under fire over how he has handled the Zesa board issue. You remember he dissolved the board as soon as he became minister in May and he is yet to appoint a new board five months on."

Matiza has been under pressure to deliver on key projects that fall under his purview, chiefly the US$400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation project and the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway.

Instead of implementation, he has revoked the NRZ project amid self-interest and corruption allegations, coming under immense scrutiny.

The Ministry of Information has been giving Mnangagwa headaches and might undergo a shake-up as officials, including minister Monica Mutsvangwa and her deputy Energy Mutodi, who have been engaged in public squabbles since their appointment while permanent secretary Nick Mangwana is largely viewed as out of depth.

Mutsvangwa refused to comment on the developments, saying the appointment and dismissal of ministers or senior government officials was solely Mnangagwa's prerogative.

"I don't know anything like that. In fact, you should not be asking me about those things because the appointing authority is the president and only he can know if there is anything like that," Mutsvangwa said.

Sources described the developments as a mirror reflection of the wider Zanu PF factional fights pitting Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.

As reported by the Independent last week, a clique of Zanu PF members is reportedly plotting to unseat Chiwenga on grounds of incapacitation as part of the intensifying factional fights.

There is also pressure for Mnangagwa to elbow presidential spokesperson and OPC Deputy Chief Secretary George Charamba out of office.

The situation got worse this week after Charamba posted what appeared to be a pornographic video on his Twitter account, on which he uses the @jamwanda handle.

He had also stirred the hornet's nest by posting on the same account pictures of Mnangagwa eating boiled cattle hooves, while aboard a luxurious private jet on his way from attending Uganda's 54th independence anniversary last month.

"There is serious jockeying and shadowboxing taking place in the OPC and in the information department. On one hand there is Mangwana who is extremely unpopular with officials in that office for employing guerrilla tactics to run the department.

So he thinks he is being sabotaged by Charamba. Nick came here and brought changes which have not gone down well with everyone. For instance, he sends information officers on reporting assignments, something which was not done before. So the environment there is poisonous," a senior government official said.

"So when Charamba made those tweets, they seized the opportunity to lobby intensely for his sacking. I am sure you noticed that he at some point disabled the Twitter account before bringing it back up a couple of days later. That was the time when the situation had deteriorated.

So there were high-level meetings over the issue last week, some of which involved the chief secretary (to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda). He got solid backing mainly from the army guys in the OPC and the case fell apart, but you can bet they will come back again," the source said.

Efforts to get comment from Sibanda, Charamba and Mangwana were fruitless.

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