Mnangagwa Weakens Chiwenga
The appointment of Frederick Shava to the Foreign affairs ministerial post this week has further entrenched President Emerson Mnangagwa hold on power, capitalizing on political contingency and opportunities triggered by recent deaths of top government officials including Sibusiso Moyo who was instrumental in his ascendancy to power, analysts say.
Shava, a diplomat with a tainted past from the late 1980s through his involvement in the Willowgate scandal and his robust defence of the Gukurahundi genocide, replaces the late foreign minister Moyo who succumbed to COVID 19 a fortnight ago.
Moyo, an ally of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was a key figure in the 2017 military coup that toppled Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe. Besides being the face of coup, he played a central role in mobilizing resources and planning the coup.
Moyo’s replacement, Shava is Mnangagwa’s long standing ally and homeboy, and is seen strengthening the President’s hand while weakening Chiwenga who has been undone by a series of well calculated purges of his allies.
COVID 19 has also conspired against Chiwenga and his military faction. Chiwenga has lost major allies like former Agriculture minister Perrence Shiri, who was the Air force of Zimbabwe commander during the coup and other security chiefs who include retired Lieutenant General Douglas Nyikayaramba who died on Tuesday this week.
While death is immutable, it has considerably weakened Chiwenga’s camp. Chiwenga, who was the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander during the coup, was tipped to take over from 2023 but has found himself on the back foot after being outsmarted by Mnangagwa who has moved to consolidate his power, influencing Zanu PF structures to push his candidature in the next election.
After assuming power, Mnangagwa unleashed a wave of purges in the military, police and Central Intelligence Organization targeting Mugabe and former first lady Grace Mugabe’s allies, before going for Chiwenga’s loyalists.
Key commanders – who pivoted the coup, including commander of the presidential guard battalion retired Lieutenant General Anslem Sanyatwe- were removed in February 20119 while Chiwenga was battling ill health in India.
Like his earlier South African health mission, the Indian health trip was unsuccessful and saw him spending time in China seeking treatment, allowing Mnangagwa to consolidate.