Senior officials in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) last week said the political rift between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga has widened, to such an extent that the two are said to be barely communicating since the latter returned back home from India, where he was receiving specialist medical treatment for suspected poisoning.
Chiwenga has not been seen in public nor appeared on state television for over a month, raising a red political flag that he could be planning to brew a shocker, in the form of kicking Mnangagwa out of power, using his reported health woes as a perfect cover story for his absence, government insiders have said.
Spotlight Zimbabwe has already broken the exclusive story of Mnangagwa’s imminent departure from office within the coming 12 months, to avoid being humiliated by the army over his appalling handling of the economy and the growing possibility of facing another coup ouster like former leader, Robert Mugabe.
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In a window dressing stunt last Tuesday, Mnangagwa left Chiwenga as Acting President, to attend the United States-Africa Business Summit in Mozambique, but Chiwenga was again nowhere to be found, and is thought to have conducted important presidential duties via telephone directives from his home office.
Chiwenga’s counterpart, Kembo Mohadi, has also added to the presidium discord, by being often outside the country battling his own poor health. Mohadi was reported to have flown out last week, to a private hospital in South Africa, for further medical treatment.
“The bad blood between Zim 1 and number 2 (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga) has reached boiling point,” said one of the OPC officials. “The two barely now communicate with each other. Things are very bad and this country is on autopilot. Cabinet is divided into factions and so are our security services as a result. The army is with number 2, while the police and central intelligence organisation are leaning with Zim 1.”
Another OPC source said Mnangagwa has been dumped by the army, and his backers have advised him to invest in the police force, so he can deal with potential winter protests from the opposition, as the military was unlikely to crush future civil revolts despite a pledge to do so by the defence minister. Mnangagwa has also been advised to speed up the launch of a new currency, in an attempt to avoid economic damage being caused by the RTGS dollar, and also to engage image making firms in the U.S. to win the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans, while lobbying the Trump administration to lift targeted sanctions on his regime.
“The army no longer gives him an ear, and he’s Commander in Chief only on paper,” said the OPC source. “Politicians from his faction have advised him to invest in the police force rather than count on the military to stop pending protests from the opposition. This explains why the police have acquired an assortment of weapons, including 3 343 AK-47 assault rifles and 600 sniper rifles. This talk of a new currency by September or October, is an attempt to avoid the economic damage RTGS dollars have caused, and they hope to revive his fortunes to stay in power if the new money does magic to the economy, however it is already too late for that.”
The country last saw a new currency – the Rhodesian dollar – in 1970 following the decimalisation and replacement of the local pound. The exchange rate then was $0,71:US$1. At the time of Independence in 1980 the local currency remained stronger than the grenback. The rate was $0,68: US$1. The currency gradually declined after 1980 until its dramatic crash on November 17 1997 after an unbudgeted $4 billion outlay to war veterans.
In February this year Mnangagwa dismissed reports of a rift with Chiwenga. The president said “not a single person” had shown him evidence of divisions between him and the VP, adding that they “are comrades and understand each other better than you think.”
We reported on 22 March 2019, that Mnangagwa’s days as president are numbered, as a special delegation of senior military officials reportedly told Chinese generals that his political reign will expire in 2020, and that he was going to be an interim caretaker president up to the period, before the military replaces him with their preferred successor, a few days prior to Mugabe’s November 2017 military putsch ouster.
Chiwenga himself is increasingly likely to takeover until 2023, if his health permits then handover the country to a civilian leadership, our sources maintain.