via Mnangagwa finally arrives – DailyNews Live 11 DECEMBER 2014
HARARE – After years of struggle and suffering some debilitating defeats, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was finally appointed Zanu PF’s first Vice President yesterday, a position that sets him up to succeed President Robert Mugabe when the 90-year-old leaves office.
Career diplomat Phelekezela Mphoko beat other former Zapu stalwarts such as Senior minister Simon Khaya Moyo, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi to land the ruling party’s second deputy position, as dictated by the Unity Accord of 1987.
Mugabe said yesterday that the two party VPs would automatically become his State deputies and would be sworn into office tomorrow, together with the rest of his butchered Cabinet, after the nonagenarian sacked former VP Joice Mujuru and eight ministers in an unprecedented shake-up earlier this week.
Surprisingly, Mugabe abolished the position of party chairperson, dealing a savage blow to the ego and political standing of former chairman Khaya Moyo — who had aspirations to become VP and was linked to Mujuru in the build-up to the ruling party’s divisive congress that was held in Harare last week.
But Mugabe still appointed Khaya Moyo to the politburo yesterday, in the relatively lowly position of secretary for information and publicity.
The nonagenarian said the two new VPs would rotate the function of chairman.
“We have two vice presidents who have no real function, except that they are my deputies, and I will give them work.
“We feel that we should not have a chairman. The vice presidents will rotate the role of chairman.
“We will fill the posts of ministers we have withdrawn (sacked) from duty. But I can now say in regard to the vice presidents, they automatically become VPs in government. These I would want sworn in on Friday,” Mugabe said.
The nonagenarian ominously said Mnangagwa and Mphoko should not use their posts to plot his demise.
“We must not use the presidium to plot and make subversive plans. We have taken action on some people and not everyone because we knew who were running machine yamai Mujuru, vaMutasa and others,” he said.
Mnangagwa, who kneeled before Mugabe as the long time Zimbabwe ruler congratulated him on his new post, duly vowed that he would be loyal to the president.
“I can assure the president and the party that I am going to be loyal to President Mugabe. This is a new revolution which has happened and the party will remain strong forever,” he said.
He added that his demotion a decade ago to a lower Cabinet post, following the Tsholotsho Debacle — where he and his supporters were dealt with brutally after being accused of plotting to oust Mugabe from power — had been necessary.
“All that happened had to happen that way during that time,” Mnangagwa said.
On his part, Mphoko said he was ready to work for the party.
“It is a challenge for me but I am ready to work for the party and the country in my new capacity,” he said.
Mugabe said women should not blame him for not replacing Mujuru with another woman in the presidium as the former VP had wanted to oust him from power.
“Don’t blame me for not appointing a woman in the presidium because you all know what Mai Mujuru was planning, but however, we shall also elevate other women to higher positions in the future,” he said.
As soon as Mugabe named Mnangagwa VP, central committee members erupted into a frenzy, shouting “yes, yes, yes!”.
But there appeared to be minimal celebration for the little-known Mphoko, who remains an enigma among most party members.
The shock of the day was the appointment of Ignatius Chombo as secretary for Administration, while Savior Kasukuwere grabbed the Commissariat post.
Commenting on Mnangagwa’s elevation to the VP post, a senior MDC member who requested anonymity said last night that though the Justice minister had a reputation for being ruthless, they looked forward to battling him in the 2018 elections as he was likely to be the ruling party’s presidential candidate.
“All my colleagues that I’ve talked to this evening are salivating at his elevation as he has zero social and political capital outside the top echelons of the party.
“I hope that he knows that he will battle Zanu PF’s nemesis and the colossus of local politics (Morgan) Tsvangirai come 2018,” he said.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News said last night that Mugabe’s new appointments were unlikely to heal Zanu PF’s divisions or the country’s ailing economy.
They said that the fact that Mujuru had been decapitated, where the market had viewed her as a moderate, would worsen the country’s economic woes and the suffering of Zimbabweans.
Joy Mabenge, Crisis Coalition regional information and advocacy coordinator, told the Daily News that the expulsion of Mujuru and her loyalists had nothing to do with “either competence or performance” but the creation of a “cabal of yes men and women who will in the next few years protect Mugabe’s interests both politically and financially”.
“On the economic front, the Mugabe government has reached the end of its capacity in terms of reviving the economy. We have often said you can rig every other political process but not the economy.
“There is nothing meaningful coming in terms of health, education and shelter. It’s going to take a radical shift politically for our economy to rise again,” Mabenge said.
“This is about insulating the First Family from possibilities of restitution of ill-gotten wealth in Mugabe’s lifetime or when he departs,” he added.
In its 2013 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Transparency International ranked Zimbabwe number 157 out of the 177 assessed nations, making the country the most corrupt in the Sadc region.
An anti-corruption commission established during the days of the coalition government has hitherto remained a toothless bulldog, with lack of political-will regarded as the major stumbling block.
Economist Christopher Mugaga said the changes that Mugabe had made were more political than policy-motivated.
“I do not expect a policy shift. It is more of a political move and not about policy. The impact on the ordinary person will be minimal.
“The president should have been wholesome in his approach. We cannot expect a major shift in terms of approach, it can only happen through the courts and not the politburo,” he said.
International Crisis Group’s southern Africa project director Piers Pigou said although Zanu PF was changing dramatically, there would not be a turnaround economically.
“Mujuru and company were often presented as ‘moderates’ and ‘pragmatists’, whilst those associated with Mnangagwa as radicals, even zealots. However, a change of the guard in the executive does not automatically mean we will see clarity and coherence on the economic front,” Pigou said.
Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the changes in the “cockpit” were not only cosmetic but also disastrous.
“Forget about a new start. This marks the end of Zanu PF. Is this going to improve the life of ordinary Zimbabweans? No, not at all.
“It signals ugly and dirty Mugabe succession fights which Mujuru appears to have lost for now,” Mavhinga said.