NEWLY-APPOINTED Vice-President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga has retained his stranglehold on the military, after he was yesterday allocated an extra duty to administer the affairs of the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, a portfolio previously held by his counterpart, Kembo Mohadi, who will now be in charge of the National Peace and Reconciliation organ.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
The changes were announced yesterday, a day after Chiwenga and Mohadi took their oaths of office as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s deputies.
Acting Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Justin Mupamhanga in a statement, said: “Accordingly, His Excellency the President, Cde ED Mnangagwa has duly assigned Honourable Vice-President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga to administer the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans. Honourable Vice-President Kembo Mohadi will administer the National Peace Reconciliation portfolio.”
Before his elevation to the Vice-Presidency, Mohadi had briefly served as Defence minister after taking over from Sydney Sekeramayi, who was left out in a new Cabinet line-up assembled by Mnangagwa last month following former President Robert Mugabe’s resignation on November 21.
Mohadi replaces former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who was responsible for the same portfolio.
Chiwenga was until his retirement last week Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, which “stepped in” to facilitate Mnangagwa’s elevation, forcing Mugabe to resign under pressure from the public and military.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Chiwenga’s appointment would make him useful in Cabinet.
“At least it gives him something to do than being a ceremonial Vice-President. However, the position can be abused and the military might have a big part to play in the coming elections and not necessarily in people’s favour,” he said.
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said: “His forceful and mysterious ascendancy to the Presidium will not make him a good leader.”
He added: “He will remain fierce and directly in charge of the military for their own safety. It clearly shows that General (Rtd) Chiwenga did not abandon his military uniform. The whole Mnangagwa team is in fear of the unknown. They have tightened the grip by keeping General Chiwenga on guard of both the fleeing cabal and the soldiers.”