President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired Victor Matemadanda from the post of party political commissar and assigned him to a less glamorous role of heading a diplomatic mission.
The outspoken Zanu PF bigwig was demoted at a politburo meeting held in Harare on Thursday and now awaits his re-assignment.
Matemadanda, who was also War Veteran deputy minister, is reported to have been fired over incompetence after he presided over chaotic Zanu PF district coordinating committee (DCC) elections in December.
He was also punished for publicly bragging that his party was behind the decimation of the opposition MDC Alliance.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has accused Mnangagwa of sponsoring divisions in his party, an allegation Zanu PF denies.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday confirmed that Matemadanda was no longer the party’s political commissar or deputy minister.
He said Matemadanda would be reassigned, but downplayed reports that he had been demoted.
“(Cde) Matemadanda was not fired, but he has been reassigned for a higher responsibility out of the country,” Charamba said.
“A number of our embassies have no representatives, hence there is a need to fill in those vacant posts.
“But it’s up to His Excellency (Mnangagwa)’s discretion on assigning the individuals. There are a number of reassignments that are going to be taking place.”
This week, following the recall of Tendai Biti and five other MPs from the MDC Alliance, the United States government accused Mnangagwa of abusing State machinery to annihilate the MDC Alliance through illegal recalls of its MPs, arbitrary arrests, asset seizure as well as denying it space to campaign freely.
The US State Department said the developments in Zimbabwe were worrisome as they confirmed the Zanu PF regime’s determination to close the democratic space and create a pliant opposition which poses no threat to the ruing party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Charamba yesterday denied Zanu PF was engineering divisions in the MDC Alliance. He also denied that the ruling party was behind the recall of Chamisa’s MPs.
Matemadanda, who took over from Engelbert Rugeje in June 2019, reportedly fell out of favour with Mnangagwa over the chaotic manner he handled the DCCs.
Chaotic scenes characterised the DCC elections last December amid allegations of vote-rigging, burning of ballot papers and violence in most parts of the country.
Some Zanu PF members boycotted voting in the elections after names of their preferred candidates were removed from ballot papers under controversial circumstances. The voting also commenced very late in most parts of the country because of delays in the delivery of voting materials.
Matemadanda led the crusade against the late former President Robert Mugabe and his family, leading to his dismissal from Zanu PF in 2016.
He later bounced back and was initially appointed commissar just after Mugabe’s ouster, before being replaced by Rugeje, seen at the time as Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s appointee.