via Cabinet appointments bolster Mugabe ‘faction | The Financial Gazette – Zimbabwe News by Allen Hungwe 19 Sep 2013
SO much has been written about the rationale behind President Robert Mugabe’s appointments into his new Cabinet.
I want to attempt to read into the mind of the President and explore the reasons why so many of the government ministers find themselves in the positions they are in today.
In appointing his Cabinet, President Mugabe was influenced by growing factionalism in the party as well as the expectation that he would retire from politics after winning the elections.
What seems clear, however, is that President Mugabe is out to serve his full five-year term, something that he has also indicated in public.
However, because there is growing conceptions of his possible retirement, including inside ZANU-PF, the President had to appoint his Cabinet with a mind-set of self-preservation.
He feels as much under threat from internal politics as those that have been purported to be leading succession factions in the party.
He is fighting a huge expectation of his retirement which is against what I feel is his real aspiration — to finish off his five-year term.
Unlike the general notion, recent Cabinet appointments indicate the consolidation of what I term the Mugabe faction, rather than the Mujuru or Mnangagwa factions.
Recent Cabinet appointments were also about strengthening President Mugabe’s power base.
Political loyalty was an important consideration for President Mugabe as a way of supressing the protrusion of the Joice Mujuru/Emmerson Mnangagwa tussle which threatens to steal the limelight of what is possibly his last presidential term.
There are people like Jonathan Moyo and Dzikamai Mavhaire, who at one point had a brush with the party and its leadership, but have now found another lease of political life in Cabinet.
President Mugabe’s move is meant to clearly communicate that although these two should have been rotting on the periphery of the party leadership, they have been brought back by the single stroke of presidential absolution.
They would always regard their inclusion as a rare Mugabe moment that deserves a pay-back of lifetime loyalty, not only to the party but primarily to the President.
There are others like Joseph Made, who lost the party’s primary elections, despite having also been a mild performer in his ministry, he still found his way in the new Cabinet.
Many have attributed Patrick Chinamasa’s appointment to the Finance Ministry as win for the Mnangagwa faction. I think Chinamasa is being primarily rewarded for his loyalty to President Mugabe more than to any other faction.
President Mugabe is also obviously worried about how the diamonds income flows failed to find their way into government Treasury during the time Tendai Biti was at the helm of the ministry.
President Mugabe had to look for someone loyal to him, with the disciplinarian capacity to be able to whip the diamond revenue inflows into Treasury.
Within ZANU-PF, Chinamasa is considered as firm and strict and able to face up to anyone in the party as long as he has the backing of the President.
He, therefore, landed this ministry based on that criterion. If he is able to rein in diamond revenues, assuming that mining continues as in the past, President Mugabe’s next five-year term will somehow wade off government funding challenges, which threaten to be a source of his downfall.
The appointment of Walter Chidhakwa to the Ministry of Mines is part of the power consolidation matrix. Chidakwa is closely related to the President. Previous activities in the mining sector, especially in the diamond extraction, seemed to happen so fast and so clandestinely that even President Mugabe did not seem to have the full trace.
The sector had become a runaway sector. Whatever activities took place in the sector did not fully benefit the country or ZANU-PF. It benefited individuals.
At the time of going to elections, ZANU-PF had to rely on last minute fund-raising and some donations from well-wishers to push through with their campaign. Some of the leaders in the party had to take the task of personally financing aspects of the campaign.
The diamonds, which many assumed were going into coffers of the party, ended up feeding into the pockets of a few individuals. Some of these individuals then attempted to manipulate internal party processes given that they knew just how desperate ZANU-PF was for election funding.
President Mugabe learnt the bitter lesson and this is why he has brought in someone with unquestionable loyalty to the Mines Ministry. He will be able to keep a tag and control the ministry more closely than before.
Sydney Sekeramayi, a traditional loyalist to the President, has moved back to the Defence Ministry; deposing Mnangagwa in one of the central portfolios of government.
Mnagngawa’s presidential ambitions have always been threatening, not only to his rival, Mujuru, but even to President Mugabe’s hold on power.
When the ZANU-PF District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) were dissolved in 2012, many viewed that as an endorsement of Mujuru, given the inroads Mnangagwa had made in the structures of these committees.
It, however, turned out that it was President Mugabe’s hold on power that was under threat from Mnangagwa’s strategic influence in party.
There was a rising notion in some quarters of the party that President Mugabe needed not be the party’s candidate for the immediate post-Government of National Unity election.
That resonated well with some members of the faction-ridden party; as some were uneasy about President Mugabe’s candidacy against Morgan Tsvangirai’s robust popularity at that time.
Dissolving the DCCs indirectly dissipated the concerted evolution of Mnangagwa’s influence in the party, which also threatened President Mugabe.
So by replacing Mnangagwa with Sekeramai, this serves to bolster President Mugabe’s control and support of the security sector, which is a critical component in the power balance within the party.
Simon Khaya-Moyo has been allotted to the Senior Minister portfolio. He will work directly with President Mugabe. It is, however, likely that he will be elevated to second Vice President when the party goes to congress in December 2013.
The time between now and then will also likely strengthen the relationship between President Mugabe and Khaya-Moyo. This is seen as a major loyalty-building tactic, which will yield well for President Mugabe when Khaya-Moyo is eventually promoted.
President Mugabe needs someone with clear allegiance and loyalty in that position; which can then neutralise any possibility of Mujuru’s attempts to ascend before President Mugabe either endorses or is willing to step down.
Khaya-Moyo will not operate as a Mujuru or Mnangagwa supporter, but primarily as a Mugabe loyalist able to discharge his moves based on what the President intends.
The Cabinet appointments were therefore swayed by President Mugabe’s vulnerability to the power struggles in the party. Although these struggles are seen to be confined to Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions, they will likely go on to influence issue of when President Mugabe should step out of the politics.
The intensity that has brewed in the succession debate is not likely to remain enclaved to factional fighting; it will likely extend to challenging President Mugabe to step down; something that he does not seem ready for yet.
In that regard, the need for self-preservation has led to Cabinet appointments that neither bolster Mujuru or Mnangagwa factions; rather it’s the Mugabe faction that has been reinforced.
That reinforcement simply tells us that the President is here to last his full five-year term.