President Robert Mugabe will reshuffle his Cabinet this week in a desperate bid to weed out elements perceived as fomenting discord in his stuttering government.
Mugabe told Zanu PF youths at his party headquarters in Harare yesterday that he was wielding the axe on poor-performing members of his bloated Cabinet.
As first reported by our sister paper the Daily News two weeks ago, Mugabe said he will ask for his Cabinet’s resignation and reshape the administration ahead of crucial elections next year.
“Next week, there might be some changes in government. Should we remain with the same team or we make changes or even discard some? So that exercise I will be doing it and early next week you will get the results,” Mugabe told the meeting of his Zanu PF youth wing.
First Lady Grace Mugabe did not speak at the youth assembly event. All she did was to deliver a slogan, curiously saying: “Pamberi nemavice president edu (forward with our vice presidents.”
Her terse statement flies in the face of her demolition job against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, where she accused the Justice minister and his allies of plotting to topple Mugabe through unconstitutional means and for repudiating earlier claims that he was not poisoned when he fell sick in Gwanda on August 12.
Mnangagwa has also fallen out with his counterpart — Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko — who accused him on Tuesday of undermining Mugabe’s authority over claims that he was poisoned at a Zanu PF youth interface meeting held in Gwanda, contrary to what he had told the Zanu PF leader.
While the vice president has rebuffed Mphoko for distorting his speech, delivered in Gutu last week on Saturday, he has become isolated since his appointment in December 2014.
There is fierce speculation whether Mugabe will retain the under-fire Mnangagwa or not, whom the first lady has accused of lying about his “poisoning” to get public sympathy.
Mugabe’s re-organisation of Cabinet comes as the country is in the throes of critical foreign currency shortages that have seen businesses struggling to pay for imports, with retailers grappling with problems importing that have led to critical shortages of basic goods and massive price hikes.
Economic growth has slowed to its weakest pace, data last week showed, and promises to boost manufacturing and create millions of jobs for one of the southern Africa region’s youngest workforce have failed to take off.
“We must look at ourselves (youths). Have we all of us cooperated together, are there some amongst us, although they were given positions, but they have not done well?” said Mugabe.
“Also, in government although we are putting some people to certain positions, did they live up to the calling of that position? We look at the party and the government as well. Next week there might be some changes in government.
“I must do my review, looking on who have not pulled up or lived up to expectations in government tongoramba takadaro here (should the line up remain the same?) kana kuti anosuduruswa dzimwe nguva kubva adonhedzwa (or do we reassign some or drop them altogether) so that is the exercise I will be doing early next week,” Mugabe said.
This comes just after the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader said he was aware of saboteurs who wanted to incite people against his government ahead of next year’s general elections, suggesting some of them could be within his inner circle.
The reshuffle also comes as Mugabe is coming under pressure to deliver on election promises in the final 10 months of his term.
His five-year economic plan, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), which requires $27 billion in funding and aimed at improving basic services and rebuilding the impoverished country, has failed.
The 129-page ZimAsset document, which details a plan stretching to 2018 for the economy, outlines plans including the sale of bonds, securitisation of remittances, re-engagement with international finance institutions and the creation of special economic zones.
Financing options were supposed to focus on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a group of large emerging market nations collectively known as Brics, but the plans have all fell through.
The economy is collapsing; cash and fuel supplies have dwindled, and State coffers are dry that the regime struggles to pay salaries or bonuses, with street protests, and desertions by key allies.
The prevailing cash shortages have not helped matters, with banks literally running out of cash — even bond coins and notes.
This vindicates opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had warned that ZimAsset was just a “statement of intent” that was “un-fundable and un-implementable.”
Mugabe claimed yesterday Tsvangirai — who is still in South Africa and is due to undergo a medical review this weekend pending his return back home — was shocked by the bumper crowds at his presidential youth interface rallies, causing his health to deteriorate sharply.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, has said his boss has been discharged from hospital after being airlifted from Harare three weeks ago following the sudden onset of severe vomiting.
Mugabe said yesterday: “It left the opposition parties trembling, vakavamba vana Tsvangirai zvino kudedera nekumabvi uku, ndipo pakabva pavamba, pasusukidzwa hurwere (the bumper crowd left Tsvangirai weak-kneed, and his health turned for the worse). We say to Tsvangirai, relax, Zanu PF is a mammoth party of the country,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe last reshuffled his Cabinet in September 2015 as he sought to uproot functionaries that were associated with former vice president Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru had been fired about 10 months earlier, in 2014, for scheming to unseat Mugabe using unconstitutional means.
Ever since, the discord in his Cabinet has worsened because of the intense infighting between Zanu PF factions, Team Lacoste and Generation 40 — over Mugabe’s succession.
The infighting has spread to all facets of government, thus disrupting government business, and stalling projects meant to pull the country’s economy from the intensive care.
Mugabe also warned party leaders not to solve their differences in public.
“To party leaders some say ndoda kumunyadzisa kuvanhu ko ukavanyadzisa ivo vanoda kukunyadzisawo mangwana (if you shame some of your colleagues they may hit back next time). If there are problems let us discuss them not for the benefit of the News Day and Daily News or outsiders.
“We should learn good politics especially the leadership must learn to discuss problems in-house, they (problems) are ours, they don’t belong to the outside world.
“Exchanging harsh words in the public it’s a shame because our party was not built on that basis, we must have discipline but we are divided and we become the food of vultures outside. No we should never be that.
“It doesn’t matter how offended you feel, bring your matter here, your offence here and we will find the solution in the party,” he said.
This comes as relations have broken down between Mnangagwa and the First Family over a series of events that drove a wedge between them.
Political analyst, Shakespear Hamauswa, said on the issue of a reshuffle, Mugabe will demote those who are on the wrong side.
“He has the prerogative to appoint and dismiss Cabinet ministers and he can simply do that at will,” remarked Hamauswa two weeks ago.
“Previously, he used to consult Mujuru and Mnangagwa to balance the then existing factions, but now that he seems to be a faction of his own, the Cabinet reshuffle can be a possible reality. It will also be a way of entrenching his position showing that he is still in control.
“Relations in the ruling party have become seriously strained following the suspected poisoning of …Mnangagwa by alleged rivals who are desperate to destroy his prospects of succeeding Mugabe.”
Since the alleged poisoning of Mnangagwa, Mugabe and his wife, Grace, have accused the Midlands and Masvingo provinces of fanning tribalism and spreading hate through false claims of witchcraft.
Meanwhile, Mugabe revealed that the party is going to buy cars for the youth league and the women’s league costing around $3,5 to $3,6 million.
“We discussed the issue with the vice presidents and the secretary of administration and we are capable of buying those cars. We need to do it fast as you know that we are approaching elections. “Let’s do it now, I want to see the cars here, end of October or the start of November so that the youths will go around the nation.”
Mugabe also went on to mock some leaders in his party saying they are having children with different women. – Daily News