FEARS for political unrest in Zimbabwe are growing following the dismissal of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa by president Robert Mugabe, amid speculation that some senior military personnel might be unhappy with the move.
Mnangagwa’s sacking was announced to the media in Harare this afternoon by Information minister, Simon Khaya Moyo.
He said: “His Excellency, the president, Comrade R. G. Mugabe has exercised his powers to relieve Honourable Vice president Mnangagwa of his position as Vice president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
Furthermore, Moyo said: “It has become evident that his conduct in the discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibility. The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability. He has also demonstrated little probity in the execution of his duty.”
Mnangagwa’s dismissal has however sparked speculation as to the direction Zimbabwe politics is taking.
Political observers say Mnangagwa’s removal is not an unexpected development following months of overt political tension within Zanu’s opposition factions, Lacoste, allegedly led by Mnangagwa and G40 which supports Grace Mugabe’s ambition to succeed her husband.
Many political commentators see Mnangagwa’s firing as part of Mugabe’s strategy to pave the way for his wife, Grace, to take up the post of Vice president when Zanu holds its Congress next month.
On Sunday, Grace herself told a crowd of Apostolic church members at a stadium in Harare that she is ready to succeed her husband as president. She said: “I say to Mr Mugabe, you should leave me to take your post. Have no fear. If you want to give me the job, give it to me freely.”
Mnangagwa becomes the second vice president to be fired unceremoniously by 93 year old Mugabe who has ruled the country since independence in 1980.
In 2014 Mugabe fired his then deputy, Joice Mujuru, after accusing her of plotting to assassinate him. Mujuru dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous” and went on to launch the National Peoples Party in March this year, to contest the general elections in 2018.
Meanwhile, unproven reports say president Mugabe’s attempts to fire General Constantine Chiwenga was today rebuffed by the army chief who allegedly responded by saying: “Why are you firing me now? I am 34 years younger than you and you are still in office. We didn’t fight to please your interest.”
On the contrary a video has emerged showing Chiwenga in the back of his official car talking to a reporter who asks him if “the situation is tense in the country.”
Chiwenga’s responds by saying: “There is nothing tense. The situation is very well. It is only tense in the minds of mad people.”
The reporter then asks. “What about reports that the military plays a role in the succession issue in Zimbabwe? What do you say to that?”
Chiwenga responds by saying. “That is absolute nonsense. I have already said in my statement that we are there to defend the sovereignty and integrity of the country. We are the principal organ which will uphold the constitution of the country, period.”
Unverified reports say Mnangagwa flew out of the country before the press conference announcing his dismissal was convened. The reports also suggest that Mnangagwa flew off on a private jet from Buffalo Range airport and that his whereabouts are unknown.