via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Mnangagwa takes secret oath as stand-by Zim President – report by Itai Gwatidzo Mushekwe 31 January 2014
Vice President, Joice Mujuru’s chances of becoming Zimbabwe’s second republic leader, have been dealt a severe blow, amid revelations that the country’s top security services chiefs have secretly “sworn in”, Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as their shadow president to replace President Robert Mugabe with immediate effect, The Telescope sensationally reported.
The disclosures, from high ranking Zanu-PF politburo and army officials to The Telescope, puts to rest the debate around Mugabe’s succession, which has been a hot issue for more than a decade. Mugabe swept to power in April 1980 as the first black prime minister, after arriving in Zimbabwe only six weeks before this first election, ushering in Independence and ending white minority rule under Rhodesia.
Interestingly, at Independence, Mugabe had made Joice Mujuru’s late husband, General Solomon Mujuru, who died in a mysterious fire accident at his farm in 2011, alongside Mnangagwa his key allies. General Mujuru was the first national army commander, while Mnangagwa, a personal bodyguard of Mugabe at one time was promoted to minister of state security.
Our informants contend that, the country is on the precipice of political quandary and economic crisis, in the wake of VP Mujuru’s elbowing from power, because Mnangagwa has: “A Political doctrine worse than Mugabe.” Although the former defence minister’s anticipated rule, is likely to be short-lived, Zimbabwe will go through “very turbulent times” during his uncertain tenure.
Not so fast and easy
The international community and Zanu-PF top leadership had hitherto, been following the official and practical theory of Mugabe’s party constitution, which clearly places VP Mujuru a stone’s throw away from taking over as the next Head of State. Mujuru has garnered overwhelming support from most, of the country’s Zanu-PF provincial leadership, but it has emerged their political allegiance could be cosmetic in line with the new developments. Zanu-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, has told the press in Harare that both Mugabe and Mujuru would remain in their positions when the party, meets for an elective congress expected in December, therefore any talk of succession was a non-event.
“There is no one who is going to challenge the President because it is the party’s policy to support the sitting President unless he says he wants to rest,” Gumbo said. “Again President Mugabe is such a towering figure in the party that no small guy can seek to challenge him. I do not see Vice President Joice Mujuru being challenged as well because the President said he was happy with her both in Government and in the party.”
Irate Mnangagwa loyalists, said they did not take kind Gumbo’s remarks, accusing him of referring to their presidential hopeful when he said: “No small guy can seek to challenge him (Mugabe).” Ironically both Gumbo and Mnangagwa hail from the Midlands province, but are said to have bad blood between them, due to political wrestling over control and seniority of the province. Gumbo is also a blue-eyed Mujuru ally.
Behind closed doors
“They are many levels of power in this country, and all these Zanu-PF decisions and position on the succession issue, are a waste of time because the military has always had the final say,” said a party politburo member claiming to be non aligned to any faction fighting for Mugabe’s job. “I have worked with the security services chiefs, and have seen how our decisions are treated as a talk shop. The military literally took over campaigning for Zanu-PF in last year’s presidential elections and the show of force in the rural areas, gave us a resounding victory. Those who don’t know that ED (Mnangagwa’s nickname among senior colleagues), is the next president, are either deaf or dumb. He is so cunning, and will get it right this time, this is not a discovery but a credible fact.”
A senior army officer, working close to the Chief of Staff in Harare also confirmed that the military top brass had met before, and after Mugabe came back from his annual holiday from Singapore to finalise a succession exit plan for the ailing leader.
“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces boss and other security services chiefs met in early January at Mugabe’s official residence, when they was this rumour about Mugabe’s whereabouts, with some speculating that he had died,” said the officer. “During this intensive meeting, it was agreed that Mnangagwa should takeover, and President Mugabe is said to have consented. He also pleaded that there must not be retribution against Joice Mujuru, because such chaos will destroy Zanu-PF.”
The Telescope understands, that it was during this security symposium, that the military chefs symbolically swore in Mnangagwa, as shadow president, and in keeping up with a gentlemen’s agreement that he made with Mugabe. Further details of the meeting, also bring to light that Mugabe has issued a timeline for his departure from office, as no later than December 2015. However, the Zanu-PF strongman is also said to be prepared to leave as early as May 2015, and prefers a transfer of power by August 2015.
A roll-out plan for Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power other sources said, is already in place and it includes, the declaration of a “State of Emergency” and “forced exile” for some Zanu-PF and MDC politicians. “Mass arrests and imprisonment of those resisting the military Mugabe succession panacea, cannot be ruled out.”
China’s hidden hands
Another silent player in the game, is China. Beijing our government and diplomatic sources say is having a strong backstage input into the whole arrangement. Zimbabwe’s late defence attache to China, Brigadier General Misheck Tanyanyiwa, who died in December 2013 in Beijing was allegedly acting as middleman for ZDF Commander, Constantine Chiwenga and Mnangagwa in power broking, and financial support from China for the justice minister to occupy the highest office in the country.
China has considerable business interests in Zimbabwe, revolving mostly around diamond mining and agriculture, where they have joint business ventures with the country’s military elites.
There are also reports that, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Military Intelligence Unit (MIU), have in the past few years placed Mujuru and her late husband under surveillance, and have allegedly gathered that the couple has strong connections and links with American and British intelligence. According to one of the many, whistle-blower website, Wikileaks cables on Zimbabwe, Mujuru is said to have conducted a secret meeting with former US Ambassador, Charles Ray to allegedly discuss a new political direction for Zimbabwe, with Washington willing to be involved in the process.
Mujuru the cable says, managed to evade secret service officers, and met at an unknown location with the American diplomat. The meeting took place on 16 December 2009, following a facilitation made by David Butau, who is a business partner to Mujuru under their diversified company, Dande Holdings.
“The Vice President had managed to shed all of her (presumably CIO-infiltrated) security. She herself poured tea. The meeting was friendly and respectful; at the end Mujuru said she would like to meet again and continue the conversation…” said the leaked cable.
Mujuru’s detractors, also accuse her of having close links with Britain’s Military Intelligence Section 6 (MI6), which they say was instrumental in facilitating a safe haven for Butua, who had skipped Harare in 2007, for fear of arrest over alleged foreign-exchange violations. Butau only managed to come back after the late General Mujuru assured him, that the police would not pounce on him. “Her (Joice Mujuru) image is soiled,” said a former Zanu-PF cabinet minister who is now a legislator. “They have made Mugabe to believe that, she is a snake in the grass. One big arguement they raised is that the MI6, had facilitated the lifting of European Union sanctions on Mujuru, yet Mugabe, the First Lady and our military leaders are still on the targeted list. To add insult to injury, it is thought London even today is comfortable with a coalition government between Mujuru and former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, with suspicion that this project is on-going as we speak.”
Mnangagwa’s almost certain rise to the leadership of Zimbabwe, has the blessings of Chiwenga, who gave away his support in public in September 2012, during Mnangagwa’s 66th birthday party in Kwekwe, where he was guest of honour at the banquet held at the justice minister’s Sherwood Farm.
“Mnangagwa is the only surviving member of the first politburo meeting because in the first days, the president (Mugabe) did not attend the politburo,” Chiwenga said. “All the others who attended the first meetings are now dead. I’m sure he is alive for a reason which we all know.”