Tongues wag over ED’s politburo reshuffle

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa demoted Zanu PF commissar Mike Bimha to an ordinary politburo member as part of a grand scheme to consolidate his power beyond 2028, it has been alleged.

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa demoted Zanu PF commissar Mike Bimha to an ordinary politburo member as part of a grand scheme to consolidate his power beyond 2028, it has been alleged.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, ruling party secretary-general Obert Mpofu announced that Munyaradzi Machacha, who was the principal at the Chitepo School of Ideology, is the incoming commissar.

Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda swapped posts with Patrick Chinamasa, who was the treasurer general. Chinamasa is now secretary for legal affairs.

Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa and party information director Farai Marapira did not answer calls to shed more light on the impromptu late evening reshuffle of the ruling party’s highest decision-making organ outside congress.

Some party functionaries privy to the developments, have, however, said Bimha was caught by surprise, adding that he only learnt of his fate in the Press statement.

“There are many reasons why Bimha has fallen out of favourwith the President. The President was not impressed with Bimha’s mobilising prowess,” a source claimed.

“Mnangagwa had to use several affiliates to win the elections. He (Mnangagwa) thinks Bimha was failing to articulate issues to the masses. The President also thinks Bimha was a hindrance to his 2028 political ambitions. Bimha was critical of the ED anenge achipo slogan and advocated for its ban.”

As the commissar, Bimha was also accused of failing to organise Thank You rallies after the 2023 elections, which Mnangagwa reportedly hoped to use to consolidate his power beyond 2028.

Mudenda has been purportedly rewarded with the new post after quickly facilitating the recall of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators to help his party earn a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The Zanu PF insiders have also claimed that Chinamasa has been thrust into the new seat to craft legislation that will see Mnangagwa extend his term beyond 2028.

Mnangagwa (81) is currently serving his second term and constitutionally his last in office, having been first elected in 2018.

The Constitution only allows a president to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.

However, even if an amendment is made, Mnangagwa will not be eligible for a third term because it cannot benefit the incumbent according to Section 91(2) of the Constitution. The section states that one is disqualified for an election as president if he has already held office in a similar position under this Constitution for two terms. But Chinamasa is said to have been tasked with devising a way to circumvent the constitutional provision.

Exiled former minister Walter Mzembi said Mnangagwa’s changes clearly pointed to his 2030 agenda.

“Ziyambi Ziyambi (Justice minister) would combine very effectively with the garrulous new secretary for legal affairs, an effective negotiator who fits the bill for where things are going, including a possible government of national unity with the opposition under Welsh [Welshman Ncube], in itself likely to cause internal contradictions and displacement of some cadres,” Mzembi opined on social media platform X.

“Patrick (Chinamasa) is adept at this task and has done it before. And finally the grounding of Bimha and elevation of Machacha are all 2030 musical chair stuff, Mike the political and passive gentleman won’t fit the bill, it needs an ideological demagogue from Herbert Chitepo College itself.”

Reports indicate that Zanu PF has been having behind the scenes talks with the CCC led by Ncube to aid Mnangagwa’s grand plan.

Human rights advocate Aaron Hamauswa said it would be a sad day for democracy if Mnangagwa chose to extend his term.

“Constitutional amendments to benefit the incumbent are a dangerous precedent that undermines democracy and the rule of law,” Hamauswa said.

“A third term would extend Mnangagwa’s already authoritarian rule and further stifle political competition and dissent.”

Since his ascendancy to the throne via a November 2017 coup, Mnangagwa has changed his political commissars three times after in 2019 he replaced Engelbert Rugeje with Victor Matemadanda, who was later appointed ambassador to Mozambique giving way to Bimha.

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