via Fresh Zanu PF purges loom – DailyNews Live 25 January 2015
HARARE – With President Robert Mugabe back from his long and costly State-funded holiday in the Far East, fear has gripped his ruling party, amid talk that a new round of savage purges targeted at Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and senior civil servants perceived to be loyal to former Vice President Joice Mujuru are imminent.
Speculation over the far-reaching purges first hit the headlines soon after Mugabe went on leave mid last month, and were re-ignited upon his return to the country on Thursday afternoon — amid a relentless push by Zanu PF hardliners to completely annihilate Mujuru and her allies.
Although Mugabe was in Zambia yesterday for the expected inauguration of that country’s sixth post-independence leader, Edgar Lungu, his shadow continued to haunt many in the establishment who fear that he will crack the whip as soon as he settles back in his office in the coming few weeks.
The speculation was given impetus on Thursday evening when hardline members of the ruling party, led by Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, attended a Sapes Trust debating forum in Harare where they voiced their determination to continue cracking down on Mujuru and her allies until they accepted that they were down and out.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo and his Water Affairs colleague, Saviour Kasukuwere, also Zanu PF’s political commissar, were part of the ruling party team that appeared at the Sapes meeting.
Speaking during question time at the forum, Moyo urged the disaffected Mujuru camp to accept that they were now ordinary card-carrying members of the ruling party — going further to compare their situation with what had happened to him and other bigwigs when they were fired from their positions by Mugabe in 2004 after being accused of organising the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration that allegedly sought to oust Mugabe from power.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the only issue that was up for discussion at the moment was “when” the mooted reshuffles and brutal purges would happen, not whether they were in the offing.
“There is no question that a new and major Cabinet reshuffle is in the offing now that President Mugabe has come back from his holiday. It’s just now a question of when the president will deem this opportune.
“The reality is that there are a lot of Gamatoxes (Mujuru supporters) that still need to be smoked out of Cabinet, as well as the key security sector and the civil service if factionalists and putschists are to be defeated once and for all,” said a party official close to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A senior government official corroborated the claim, adding that the mooted “imminent Cabinet reshuffle” would also see many senior civil servants such as permanent secretaries either losing their jobs altogether or being assigned to lesser important and influential areas.
The Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, reported a fortnight ago that Zanu PF hardliners were taking fresh aim at embattled police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, in a bid to force Mugabe to relieve him of his post when the 90-year-old returned from his holiday in the Far East, because the top cop was allegedly too close to Mujuru.
Speculation around Chihuri’s position, and that of other service chiefs such as intelligence boss Happyton Bonyongwe and prisons head Paradzai Zimondi, first hit the headlines during the turbulent build-up to Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress in Harare late last year.
But while the heat appeared to have cooled down somewhat around the other service chiefs, including Air Force commander Perrance Shiri, a dark cloud seemingly continues to hover around Chihuri — as fresh turbulence, emanating from fear and suspicion, threatens to wreak further havoc within the divided ruling party.
Zanu PF sources also told the Daily News then that the amiable police chief was “definitely a marked man”, with Mugabe’s wife Grace and party hardliners apparently continuing to suspect that he still had a close relationship with Mujuru — “hence the charges of alleged slow police investigations into Amai Mujuru’s cases”.
“That Chihuri, who has a complicated history in Zanu PF, is under pressure is not a secret, which is unfortunate as he is actually a nice, God-fearing and competent man who concentrates on his job rather than petty party squabbles.
“His sole crime is that party hardliners perceive him and other service chiefs to be very close to Amai Mujuru and thus want him sacked, as he holds a very important position in the running of the country.
“The suggestion is thus that when President Mugabe next re-organises his Cabinet on his return from his holiday, Chihuri and others (service chiefs) will also be cut loose,” the source said.
There has also been talk within Zanu PF circles that the likes of Masvingo resident minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, as well as Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora, would be dismissed when the mooted purges take place.
Bhasikiti was dressed down by Mugabe during a politburo meeting late last year when the wily nonagenarian accused him of belonging to the wrong “basket” (faction) in front of his colleagues and gathered journalists.
Speaking at the Harare International Airport on Thursday, when he returned from his prolonged holiday, Mugabe said only two people — Rugare Gumbo and Jabulani Sibanda — had so far been expelled from the ruling party, as he tore into his former close confidant, Diydmus Mutasa.
While he dared Mutasa to reveal the names of the people he was working with in the latest bid to reverse the outcome of Zanu PF’s controversial congress last December, insiders say Mugabe — with his vast intelligence network was well aware of the government and party officials who were working with Mutasa, and was thus merely grandstanding.