“Chiwenga down but not out”

ALLIES of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who was brought to his knees by President Emmerson Mnangagwa – literally and metaphorically – at the crucial Zanu-PF congress last weekend, say the former military commander is down but not out.

It is a strategic retreat after losing ground in the processes leading to the congress, they argue. Chiwenga allies and independent sources say the vice president retreated on his mission to seize party structures and control in congress after some inversions in internal district and provincial elections to redefine strategy and retaliate.

In separate briefings with The NewsHawks, various sources said Mnangagwa has used congress to consolidate and retain power, but Chiwenga still has several options to turn the situation around, including: general elections, impeachment and a coup. at the Palace.

A well-placed source said: “After losing ground in the congress, the VP (Chiwenga) has several options to pull himself together. One of them is bhora musango [internal sabotage]. Chiwenga and his party allies can and will sabotage Mnangagwa who is already unpopular, as the 2018 general election showed. Chiwenga will mujuru Mnangagwa [the late former army commander Solomon Mujuru in 2008 sabotaged ex-president Robert Mugabe who died in 2019] through bhora musango.

“There is also an impeachment option which Mnangagwa feared in 2018, and has said so publicly. If the Chiwenga faction wins a majority in Parliament in the 2023 general election, they can impeach Mnangagwa.

“Chiwenga can also leverage the military to stage a palace coup, this is a situation where Mnangagwa is removed from power by people who have worked with him. The military can be used – without resorting to a hard coup like they did in 2017 – to pressure management for internal change.”

A Chiwenga ally said that given the role of the military, which the former commander still largely controls, in elections, the vice president is still a major factor in Zanu-PF and national politics.

“Mnangagwa might have won in congress, but Chiwenga remains prominent and influential in the party and national politics, especially in the upcoming general elections. So to say that Mnangagwa has completely overwhelmed Chiwenga and to imply that he has no more need for him is incorrect, especially given the military’s role in the elections. We need to examine this issue more deeply and objectively before concluding that Chiwenga was crushed in congress. He may be ousted, but certainly not eliminated. In fact, his role in the party and national affairs will not change much. In any case, the congress did not change the internal politics of Zanu-PF; the same leadership was retained, which which means nothing would be different. It is too early to sideline Chiwenga in this long-running political power struggle for party leadership in the post-Mugabe era.”

After a brutal political battle following the 2017 military coup that propelled Mnangagwa to power, characterized by conspiracies, infighting, purges, poisonings and a grenade attack amid corpses, Chiwenga has been mastered at Congress.

His surrender – at least for now – was symbolized by his kneeling before Mnangagwa in front of the 4,000 delegates. Delegates, representatives of foreign sister parties, diplomats, observers and journalists attended the spectacle of prostrations. Those who spoke to the NewsHawks found the kneeling symbolic of defeat.

“This sums up the key outcome of the congress; Mnangagwa emerged triumphant and Chiwenga defeated, given their power relations in 2017 and the current power shift,” said one delegate.

“That doesn’t mean Chiwenga is down. It means he’s down, but it doesn’t. The point is just that he was routed in congress and needs to retreat and regroup. “

Chiwenga himself accepted the crush, going so far as to claim that the leaders are ordained by God. It involved Mnangagwa, whom he once claimed to be the great Munhumutapa [historical Shona-speaking people’s monarch]had the divine right to rule.

Said Chiwenga: “Party members across its structures and leagues have already clearly and thunderously endorsed Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as President and First Secretary, and as the only presidential candidate for the ruling Zanu- PF, in the harmonized elections of 2023. People have thus spoken.”

Singing Mnangagwa’s praises, he added, “He is the one and only candidate we know of.”

It was a far cry from his plan in 2017 during the coup when he called the shots. Chiwenga’s strategy was to install Mnangagwa as president for five years and then take over in 2023.

It was part of the military plan to then keep power within their structures and among themselves.

In 2017, Chiwenga virtually installed himself as vice-president when he swapped military fatigues for a civilian suit, blocking Mnangagwa’s bid to appoint Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as co-deputy leader with Kembo Mohadi.

He also took over the defense and veterans portfolios that Mnangagwa originally handed over to Mohadi who was briefly put in charge of security. Muchinguri-Kashiri was later appeased by an appointment as party president, a position she retained in congress.

Zanu-PF’s leadership positions remained unchanged after the congress: Mnangagwa (president), Chiwenga (vice-president), Mohadi (vice-president), Muchinguri-Kashiri (president), Obert Mpofu (administrative secretary ), Patrick Chinamasa (finance), national political commissar Mike Bimha and security secretary Lovemore Matuke.

With the exception of Chiwenga and Mpofu, the rest of these senior named party officials support Mnangagwa, insiders say.

Mohadi, who helped checkmate Chiwenga during the deadly power struggle, threw his weight behind Mnangagwa in his speech to the congress. Mnangagwa lightheartedly described Mohadi as “nasty” – a reference to his sex scandals – but said he was reliable and helpful.

He said Mohadi is also an honest leader as he is the only one who repeatedly told him to his face that he wanted to be president.

Good-humouredly, Mnangagwa said if Mohadi wants to be president, he must first survive a sustained campaign of vilification and threats, poisoning, expulsion, a 40 kilometer walk and then a spectacular recovery. , which was a description of his own rise to power in the final days of the late former President Robert Mugabe.

A source said: “Congress left Mnangagwa stronger, but that doesn’t mean Chiwenga was overwhelmed. He suffered a setback and retreated, but he still has the ability to fight back and achieve his goals. .”

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