Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe strips VP Emmerson Mnangagwa of justice ministry

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has stripped his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Justice ministry in a Cabinet reshuffle that also targeted the under fire politician’s influential allies.

President Mugabe announced wholesale changes to his government on Monday night, where he also demoted Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to a new Cyber Security ministry that will focus on social media.

Mr Chinamasa, who was away in the US on government business when the reshuffle was announced, is considered a key ally of the VP.

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, who does not have a finance background, replaced Mr Chinamasa.

Her husband

However, it was the removal of the Justice portfolio from Mr Mnangagwa’s control that has become the talking point after the VP had a serious fallout with First Lady Grace Mugabe.

President Mugabe’s wife accuses Mr Mnangagwa of plotting against her husband. Last week, she claimed that sections of the military loyal to the VP were threatening a coup if he is not allowed to succeed the president.

Dr Alex Magaisa, a former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said the Cabinet reshuffle had severely weakened Mr Mnangagwa, who was until recently regarded as President Mugabe’s most likely successor.

“One consequence (of the Cabinet reshuffle) is that without the Justice ministry, (Mr) Mnangagwa loses his role as leader of government business in Parliament,” he wrote in his blog.

“It was a role that placed him at the centre of government, giving the appearance that he was more powerful compared to his counterpart (Phelekezela Mphoko).

“He will also lose influence in the appointment of the next deputy chief justice, after working tirelessly to change the constitution to give (President) Mugabe unilateral powers to appoint (the country’s top judges.)”

The head of Zimbabwe’s spy agency, Mr Happyton Bonyongwe, is the new Justice minister.

Three other ministers regarded members of a faction that supports the VP to take over from President Mugabe, were fired.

Was poisoned

In August, Mr Mnangagwa was airlifted to South Africa after he suffered a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea during a rally addressed by the president, sparking claims from his supporters that he was poisoned.

President Mugabe and his wife took issue with claims that the VP had eaten poisoned ice cream from their family dairy and they have been complaining in public that Mr Mnangagwa did not try to distance himself from the allegations.

The long-serving Zimbabwean ruler has already been endorsed to represent the ruling Zanu-PF party in next year’s elections where he will face his former deputy Joice Mujuru and Mr Tsvangirai.

President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

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