Mike Bimha can’t match Machacha: Mutsvangwa

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Mutsvangwa gave glimpses into the trajectory Zanu PF was taking, saying the new commissar, Munyaradzi Machacha, was well-placed to drive the ruling party.

Mike Bimha, who lost his influential Zanu PF political commissar post in a shock reshuffle last week, was a “lightweight” compared to the stature of the person who succeeded him, the ruling party’s spokesperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa said.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Mutsvangwa gave glimpses into the trajectory Zanu PF was taking, saying the new commissar, Munyaradzi Machacha, was well-placed to drive the ruling party.

Machacha is the principal at the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology.

Mutsvangwa said while Bimha’s performance had been remarkable, it was felt the demanding role required someone with liberation war credentials and thorough grounding in Zanu PF’s ideology.

He spoke as reports said a push for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s extension of his term of office to 2030 had inflamed fires in Zanu PF’s cockpit.

The Independent was told that as tug of wars ripped through the party, with some bigwigs now burning midnight candles to safeguard their positions, top-level changes had become necessary.

“Bimha of course, was doing his best from an organisational point of view,” Mutsvangwa said. “But with the thrust that is there — there is now a youth service. The Chitepo School of Ideology is gaining popularity and there are so many Zimbabweans who are keen to go to the school. It is so popular.

“Machacha has been overseeing that. I am sure the President will always find something else more suitable for Bimha — I mean, under the circumstances.

“It is much more to edify the ideological teaching of the party more than anything else, building upon somebody with the exposure before and after the war.”

Bimha was a surprise choice to head the commissariat in 2019, considering he was coming from industry.

Some of his predecessors had liberation war backgrounds. These included the late Moven Mahachi and Webster Shamu.

Non-combatants like Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika and Saviour Kasukuwere also headed the commissariat, one of politics’ most influential positions.

Mutsvangwa said Machacha had previously served in that department.

“Machacha, at one time served as a commissar,” he said. “In 2018, Machacha came in as a PC. He has got the advantage that he is a graduate of the formal school of Chitepo in Mozambique. His credentials for that job are impeccable.

“They have nothing to do with the people who are trying to impute other things, other than the fact that he has got exposure for informal education and has done it well as principal.

“He has to expand the reach of the programme. There is a bigger challenge of trying to bring that project into the national youth service.

“I think those were the issues which probably were in the mind of the President when he made that decision,” Mutsvangwa added.

He also hailed Machacha for leading the building of the Hebert Chitepo School of Ideology.

“He built a formal school. We have just finished building it. So, the President has seen it fit to expand the capacity and the depth of the school. Somebody who has got experience before and after the war is Machacha. He is well-placed to take it to another level,” Mutsvangwa added.

However, close Zanu PF sources said the reshuffle had riled some in the ruling party top brass.

“This third term rhetoric has made a lot of people restless including Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who also harbours strong succession ambitions,” a top government source said.

“The majority of the top brass believe the presidential office is a straitjacket and the current rhetoric on the third term is not being entertained.

“Several bigwigs have been burning midnight candles on the matter and finding ways on how to stop the crusade.”

The source added that political temperatures were also rising ever since pronouncements of a possible third term or extension of the President’s term to 2030 surfaced.

Meanwhile, political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the reshuffle was a reflection of deepening schisms.

“Especially and potentially earth-shattering was the ouster of Michael Bimha – from VP Chiwenga’s home province/district — as national political commissar and his replacement by Munyaradzi Machacha, who hails from Masvingo,” he said.

“It looks like its game on along ethnic and/or regional fault lines.”

Masunungure also said Mnangagwa could be plotting his moves to extend his tenure in office.

“One is forgiven for speculating that the post-election and on-going dynamics in the party are part of the machinations playing out in the pro- and anti-third term factions,” he said.

“The President cannot pilot the salient constitutional amendment without wholesome party backing at various levels of the party. The commissariat is Zanu PF’s engine room, and the President needs an unquestioningly reliable cadre driving the process.”

However, another political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Mnangagwa was not fit for a third term.

“I do not for once think Emmerson Mnangagwa is physically and mentally pre-disposed towards the third term. It is the nature of Zanu PF to toss around positions just to flex political muscle. He is clever to know how destructive succession games are,” he said.

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