BY MOSES MATENGA
A LEAKED telephone conversation between President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s loyalists suggesting that he was weak and unstrategic in his government appointments, has gone viral on social media platforms.
Voices in the audio are believed to be those of Mnangagwa’s key proponent, tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei and Norton Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa. Both Tagwirei and Mliswa could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the audio recording yesterday.
However, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said, if the recording was authentic, then it proved that the President was not captured.
“(I) listened to an audio circulating on social media (and) while its authenticity has not been verified, what stands out is that, the parties having a conversation agree that President ED is not captured. He makes his own decisions on merit to the frustration of those with entitlements,” Mangwana said.
In the 26-minute audio, the Sakunda Holdings proprietor seems to suggest that he influenced most key government appointments by Mnangagwa since he came into power in November 2017.
The criticism by the two came after Mnangagwa’s appointment of Anxious Masuka as Agriculture minister, taking over from the late Perrance Shiri and Muzarabani MP Soda Zhemu as Energy minister, replacing Fortune Chasi.
Chasi was fired by Mnangagwa for yet unknown reasons, but Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda said “his conduct of government business had become incompatible with the President’s expectations”.
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In the audio, the two showed they had close contact with Mnangagwa and shared political and economic strategies with him. They accused the Zanu PF leader of appointing “non-entities” in government.
This, Mliswa seemed to suggest in the audio, had angered some Zanu PF bigwigs including acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa who, they argued, was qualified to be Energy Minister.
“Sekuru vako vangaisa Soda. Why does he appoint people he doesn’t know?” to which Tagwirei responded: “I was even asking him yesterday to say who is this Soda guy?”
Added Mliswa: “Where does he know him (Soda) from? That is not true.
“The issue is, this is different from (the late former President Robert) Mugabe; Mugabe appointed people he knew.
“Kasukuwere (Saviour — former Local Government minister) called me yesterday and you know what he said? He said ‘I never want you to stop working with your brother, Temba, but show me in his Cabinet, who his people are. He even left Chinamasa. There is only Oppah (Muchinguri-Kashiri, (Vice-President) Kembo (Mohadi) and (Vice-President Constantino) Chiwenga, otherwise the rest did not support him during the Lacoste days.”
“How do you then appoint people who do not support the party policy? First of all, they should come from the party and put party policy into government policy and it was a good question which I could not answer,” Mliswa said.
“Mugabe used to speak about equitable distribution of positions; my brother (Mnangagwa) does not even know the people. Chinamasa came to me and said, what value does (Sports minister) Kirsty (Coventry) bring to the party or to ED, compare to what I have done. He could have moved Chinamasa to Lands or Energy, better.”
“Chinamasa defended him and he can fit anywhere and adhere to party policy. Why put Kirsty when he is there?” Mliswa referred to Tagwirei as muzukuru (nephew) in the conversation.
Mliswa said Mnangagwa could have moved Kazembe Kazembe from Home Affairs to the Energy ministry after Tagwirei had argued that there were no people suitable for government appointments from Mashonaland Central province.
“What does Soda know about Energy? He doesn’t even sit in the (Parliamentary) Energy Committee and he knows nothing. He is one person I cannot have as minister any day,” Mliswa said, accusing some senior government officials of destroying Mnangagwa.
Tagwirei said he had advised Mnangagwa against the appointment of Masuka because the Lands ministry was very political, but the advice was disregarded.
“He (Mnangagwa) tells me about Masuka a week before (he was appointed) but I tell him that Lands ministry requires a political appointment. It can make you win or lose an election. Masuka cannot campaign on your behalf. I thought (Vangelis Peter) Haritatos was a better candidate as Minister of Lands,” Tagwirei is heard saying.