Tongues wag over Bonyongwe posting

Tongues wag over Bonyongwe posting

Source: Tongues wag over Bonyongwe posting – DailyNews Live

Gift Phiri  12 October 2017

HARARE – The unexpected appointment of former Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) director-general Happyton Bonyongwe to head the
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry has sent tongues wagging
among ordinary Zimbabweans and political analysts alike – with some
claiming it is President Robert Mugabe’s “smart card” to guarantee his
victory in next year’s eagerly-anticipated elections.

Bonyongwe, who until now has operated under the radar as Mugabe’s chief
spy, was on Monday appointed as the country’s new Justice minister –
replacing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who has been performing the
dual roles of VP and Justice guru since December 2015.

The former CIO boss holds a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe,
where he also won a Book Prize as the co-best student in his stream.

During his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Bonyongwe said he was
relishing the opportunity of serving in his new post.

“It is my hope that I will be able to make some positive contributions to
my country. That is something that has always motivated me. I view it as a
deployment by my leadership and therefore, I look at it from that context
and I will go there and do my best,” he said.

But with the 2018 elections looming large – amid growing infighting and
divisions in the ruling Zanu PF – analysts said yesterday that Mugabe’s
choice of Bonyongwe to head the ministry was telling.

“He is an able legal mind and the hope will be that he will put it to good
and productive use during his tenure.

“A former soldier and spy chief in charge of justice seems ominous, not
just for Mugabe’s internal rivals, but also for the broader opposition
movement. It (Justice ministry) is the political authority in charge of
elections and will therefore have a huge influence upon Zec (Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission),” said constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa on his

“It represents yet another influential hand of the security structure in
elections. And who knows, he could be a dark horse in the (Zanu PF)
succession race and his transfer to the political arena should be
carefully watched.

“Of the current generals, he is the one who boasted a more superior
intellect although he was less known and is more discreet by virtue of his
role in the spy agency,” he added.

Political analyst McDonald Lewanika said Bonyongwe’s appointment to the
Justice ministry was not just unexpected, but could also be viewed from
many other perspectives.

“Although a qualified and purported brilliant legal mind, his appointment
ahead of elections suggests a takeover of the legal and electoral
apparatus by the intelligence community.

“Speculation has been rife in the past that the CIO has deployed its
members to occupy key positions in the Zec secretariat, and thus
Bonyongwe’s ascension could ensure effective and close control of this
critical body ahead of elections,” Lewanika told the Daily News.

“Although Bonyongwe is a retired general, this move also appears to be
aimed at checking not just the Lacoste faction, but also the current
military establishment which has been unequivocal in its support of the
man that Bonyongwe replaces, VP Mnangagwa, whom Bonyongwe has never
appeared to prefer as a principal.

“In any case, Bonyongwe’s deployment does not portend any reform within
the security sector, but rather entrenches the security establishment’s
hold over key civilian processes and the State,” he added.

Mugabe has previously hinted at his plan to retire security chiefs whom he
has openly accused of meddling in Zanu PF’s internal power wrangles.

In July, he told Zanu PF supporters in his home province of Mashonaland
West in Chinhoyi that “politics led the gun”, suggesting that the military
and other security organs were positioning their preferred candidate to
succeed him – warning in the process that he could be forced to retire
some security commanders.

While the security establishment is deeply loyal to Mugabe, whom they see
as a steadying hand in power – amid intense jockeying over his succession
at both State and party level – top commanders have also been said to be
backing Mnangagwa to succeed the nonagenarian.

At the recent Chinhoyi youth interface rally, the 93-year-old also
appeared to give his biggest hint yet that he planned to neutralise
security chiefs by awarding them top government posts.

“We give immense respect to our defence forces. Most of those in
leadership are persons we were with outside the country and we continue to
respect them as revolutionaries.

“Yes, they will retire and we must find room for them in government so
they don’t languish . . . so they continue the struggle now . . .
political struggle together with all of us in the leadership of the
country, and this is what we expect to happen,” Mugabe said then.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant with the International Crisis Group, said
Bonyongwe’s appointment appeared to be Mugabe’s plan to contain Mnangagwa
– more than promoting government efficiency.

“Bonyongwe is now in charge of Justice and of government business in
Parliament – areas where he is something of a novice and will require
significant guidance.

“And of course, we can see this is also part of the general push-back and
containment of VP Mnangagwa.

“Taken together, this seems to be more about internal power politics
within the ruling party than the promotion of good and efficient
governance,” Pigou said.

Zanu PF is deeply-divided over Mugabe’s succession.

A faction of young Turks going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), which
has been locked in a vicious battle with Mnangagwa’s backers, Team
Lacoste, has renewed its resolve to finish off the Midlands godfather who
on Monday lost significant control of key institutions when Mugabe demoted
and fired ministers perceived to be loyal to him.

Relations have worsened between G40 and Team Lacoste since Mnangagwa was
airlifted to South Africa after falling sick at a Zanu PF rally in Gwanda
two months ago, amid claims that he had been poisoned by his rivals in the
brawling party.

Meanwhile, Mugabe has consistently batted away calls to name a successor –
insisting that it is against the Zanu PF constitution which demands its
members to call for an extra-ordinary congress to choose a new leader if
circumstances call for such a move.


  • comment-avatar
    Diaporan 9 months

    Every despotic dictator has to have a strongman to keep him in power, this guy is the Mugabes & he’s been rewarded for it. Ngwenya will be dead, in jail or in exile soon, the CIO almost got him, it’s all in Graces plan, she can taste the presidency.