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Mugabe reshuffle:

Implications for the security services

11/10/2017 00:00:00
by Lloyd Msipa
President Robert Mugabe

IT is now clear that the recent cabinet reshuffle by President Robert Mugabe has nothing to do with the economy, but more to do with keeping Emmerson Mnangagwa away from assuming the presidency of Zimbabwe.

The changes made in the executive have seen reassignment of key G40 bureaucrats to key strategic areas. For instance, Patrick Zhuwao has been assigned to the public services portfolio; this gives the G40 faction complete control of the NASA funds ahead of the elections next year. The expanded role given to Saviour Kasukuwere to include, local government, rural housing gives him the latitude to work for both party and government across the country including key rural provinces, Masvingo and the Midlands.

Also of importance, key public servants that would not invite Phelekezela Mphoko to public events, preferring to invite Emmerson Mnangagwa may be reassigned if they refuse to change. The rigging machinery will now be under the control of the G40 executive in line with their 2018 aspirations. We are likely to see more G40 faithful being fielded in previously Emmerson Mnangagwa strongholds.

I however believe the changes are not yet complete. Mugabe is more ruthless than that. He knows very well that Emmerson Mnangagwa will not be stopped by executive changes as long as he has key allies in key state institutions. We should brace ourselves for another wave of changes that will further extend into the securocrats.

If the reason for the changes in the executive were to completely immobilise Emmerson Mnangagwa and limit all access to the levers of power, it then makes sense that Mugabe will seek to make corresponding changes in the securocrats.

Here is why.

Grace Mugabe is on record of having said, her children were not safe and could be killed by the army and that there is a real and credible threat of a military coup in Zimbabwe by Mnangagwa faithful. She is of the opinion that, should anything happen to President Mugabe right now, the securocrats, as currently composed, will not protect her.

In fact, a leaked document authored by Emmerson Mnangagwa as a defence against accusations of state capture by Professor Jonathan Moyo, it refers to concerns by Professor Jonathan Moyo trying to interfere with the army.

The army leadership as currently composed is believed to be aligned to Emmerson Mnangagwa. It therefore is not possible for Mugabe to make such far-reaching changes in the executive, side-lining all of Emmerson Mnangagwa’s people and fail to make corresponding changes in the military, after all there is no love lost between the war veterans, army and the G40 faction.


The elevation of Happyton Bonyongwe, a member of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) to the executive is quite telling. The JOC is a five-man body comprising the chiefs of the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and Central Intelligence Organisation which is responsible for the coordination of state security in Zimbabwe.

The current composition includes General Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Philip Sibanda, Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Marshal Perence Shiri - Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Major General (Ret.) Paradzayi Zimondi, Head of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and Happyton Bonyongwe who was until this Monday Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation.

G40 now dominate the executive and the vacancy created in the Joint Operations Command by the elevation of Happyton Bonyongwe has to be filled. It will not be filled by an individual who is loyal to Emmerson Mnangagwa. The person who replaces Happyton Bonyongwe has to be able to work with the other Generals. This makes the case for change.

In fact, the fear is, if something suddenly happens to Robert Mugabe, the enforcers of constitutional order will be the securocrats. And depending on their allegiances it does not make sense for Mugabe to fill up the executive with pro-Grace Mugabe bureaucrats and not make provisions for changes in the military establishment in case something happens to him.

Indeed, the biggest wave of change may very well be in the army, the police and the intelligence. The current leadership as composed will not enforce the takeover of a pro-Grace Mugabe executive if Mugabe suddenly dies. In fact, the current crop of army leaders is on record of having said they will not endorse anyone who has not fought in the war of liberation.

It is a game of chess indeed. Changes in the military are therefore inevitable, after all they have from time to time made utterances speaking into the succession debate.

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