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Chiwenga the biggest loser on Mnangagwa's new Cabinet

by Staff reporter
12 Sep 2023 at 20:08hrs | Views
He staked his reputation on Emmerson Mnangagwa's return to Zimbabwe after a two-week absence as President, following a dramatic escape to South Africa in early November 2017. This followed his removal from the position of vice-president on November 6, 2017, by the late former president Robert Mugabe during a heated succession battle.

After the subsequent coup on November 14/15, 2017, which ousted Mugabe, he briefly held the reins of state power. But now, retired General Constantino Chiwenga finds himself dependent on his former political ally, Mnangagwa, in a precarious position.

In the latest cabinet reshuffle, Chiwenga was stripped of his role as Health minister and remains only an appointed Vice-President, lacking electoral legitimacy and holding a largely ceremonial role.

Mnangagwa amended the constitution to prevent the implementation of the clause on running mates, thwarting Chiwenga's aspirations to become an elected Vice-President with real authority and a clear path to succession.

As a result, Chiwenga's influence within the ruling party, Zanu-PF, and the government has waned. He is institutionally weak and politically vulnerable.

In the aftermath of the 2017 coup, Chiwenga wielded significant power. He held the positions of Vice-President, Minister of Defence, and War Veterans. He also prevented Mnangagwa from appointing Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as Vice-President in 2017, ultimately securing the position for himself, along with the Defence portfolio.

However, circumstances changed. Chiwenga fell seriously ill, possibly due to poisoning, while his military allies, who played a crucial role in Mnangagwa's rise to power, faced purges. Some were assigned diplomatic roles, others were removed from their positions, and some even died.

The coalition that had orchestrated Mugabe's downfall was dismantled, and Mnangagwa consolidated his authority with ruthless determination.

Chiwenga's near-death experience during these purges, along with revelations from his contentious divorce proceedings with Marry Mubaiwa, where it was alleged that she had conspired to harm him on behalf of powerful interests, further weakened his position.

Prior to these events, the Bulawayo White City incident in June 2018, believed to have been an assassination attempt on Mnangagwa by his internal rivals, strained relations further.

Today, there is palpable animosity between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga. They have become uneasy partners engaged in a delicate political power struggle with unresolved leadership issues.

Mnangagwa had initially pledged to serve a single term and allow Chiwenga to assume the presidency in 2023 as part of their coup-era agreement. However, he reneged on this promise, sparking a new power struggle that persists to this day, as evident in the recent cabinet reshuffle.

Chiwenga, who appeared uncomfortable during the announcement of the new cabinet, finds himself increasingly sidelined and politically weakened, particularly because Mnangagwa did not rely on the military for his contested re-election but instead on a covert intelligence-driven organization called FAZ.

As the aftermath of the November 2017 coup continues to unfold, Chiwenga appears to be the biggest loser in this power struggle, unless there is a dramatic reversal of fortunes—a formidable challenge that lies ahead.

Source - NewsHawks