A ZANU PF faction aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru is reportedly lobbying President Robert Mugabe for key Cabinet posts, among them Finance, to consolidate its position after losing grip in the parliamentary race to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp in the July 31 harmonised polls.
REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Although both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have publicly denied leading factions, impeccable sources told NewsDay this week that the two were positioning their candidates for strategic Cabinet posts as part of the Zanu PF succession race.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa are allegedly fighting to succeed 89-year-old Mugabe, who many believe should announce his retirement plans possibly before the end of his fresh five-year term in 2018.
Speculation within and outside the party is rife that the Mujuru camp, which allegedly includes Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, is pushing for Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, whose term of office ends in November, to be appointed as Finance minister.
Mugabe is empowered by the new Constitution to appoint to Cabinet five people outside Parliament.
Mutasa on Wednesday said there was nothing wrong with lobbying for posts, but denied it was happening on factional lines.
“Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa are Zanu PF. MPs were elected not on the basis that they belonged to Mujuru or Mnangagwa, but because they are Zanu PF,” Mutasa said.
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But a party source close to the goings-on said: “The Mujuru faction wants to control key ministries such as Finance, Defence, Local Government, National Security, Mines and Agriculture. The Mujuru camp believes that Mnangangwa used the army to rig the party’s primary elections,” the source said.
The source added: “They (Mujuru camp) are lobbying for the appointment of Gono as the Finance minister.”
The sources said the idea behind Gono’s choice was to neutralise Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere. The two have clashed severally over the opaque indigenisation policy, especially Kasukuwere’s intention to localise foreign banks. Gono is against the move.
Mugabe is expected to appoint a new Cabinet soon after his inauguration. The inauguration ceremony has been delayed by outgoing Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s court challenge of the election outcome.
According to the sources, Gono’s candidature reportedly has the backing of Mugabe’s chief secretary Misheck Sibanda, his deputy Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, chief of protocol Munyaradzi Kajese and top officials in the Central Intelligence Organisation.
“The Mnangagwa camp and the army are against the appointment of Gono, while other party members say Gono’s appointment will revive memories of the Zimbabwe dollar era, and threaten the party’s indigenisation policy,” said the source.
“In the event that Gono’s appointment fails, the Mujuru camp would push for Sylvester Nguni (minister of State in the Vice-President’s office) to the post,” the source added.
According to the scheme, Mutasa and Khaya-Moyo are being earmarked for the Defence, Security or Local Government portfolios.
The sources said in the event Khaya-Moyo fails to land a Cabinet post, he could be considered for the post of Speaker of the House of Assembly which he contested and lost to MDC-T’s Lovemore Moyo.
Khaya-Moyo, the sources added, could still be elevated to the Second Vice-President’s post to replace the late Vice-President John Landa Nkomo who died in January this year.
Indications are also that if the plan succeeds, Mutasa would then become party national chairperson before he finally lands the Second Vice-Presidency with the speculated eventual elevation of Khaya-Moyo to Vice-President and Mujuru to President after Mugabe leaves office.
Other dark horses allegedly being pushed by the Mujuru camp to take up Cabinet posts include David Butau (Industry and Commerce), Lazarus Dokora (Education, Sport and Culture) and Fred Kanzama for a deputy ministerial position.
There is also speculation that the camp wants Mbare MP Tendai Savanhu to take over the Indigenisation portfolio while Masvingo provincial political stalwart, Dzikamai Mavhaire, a former deputy minister, is also being touted for a Cabinet post.
The camp wants Kasukuwere, outgoing Mines minister Obert Mpofu and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to settle for less influential posts on account of their alleged membership to the Mnangagwa faction.
The Zanu PF sources said politburo member and former Information minister Jonathan Moyo could bounce back into Cabinet despite losing his Tsholotsho North constituency to Roselyne Nkomo of the MDC-T.
Newcomer Christopher Mutsvangwa, who is Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to China, is being tipped for a Cabinet post as he is credited with ensuring an increase in the volume of trade between the two countries while former police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka also stands a chance as Mugabe would want to be seen to be rewarding members of the security forces who are credited for his stay in power, especially since 2008 after he lost the first round of the presidential election to Tsvangirai.