JUST when the generality of Zimbabweans believed President Emmerson Mnangagwa could not go further in his Karanga ethnic consolidation project, he has appointed Loice-Matanda Moyo to head the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), hot on the heels of appointing Virginia Mabhiza Attorney-General.
Ziyambi Ziyambi, a Karanga, was appointed Justice minister, despite having lost in the Zanu PF primary elections to Mercy Dinha twice.
Although Ziyambi hails from Mashonaland, his origins are in Shurugwi and he is another Karanga tribesman.
Political analysts have since warned that Mnangagwa could soon face alienation and isolation within his ruling Zanu PF party due to his failure to manage the delicate ethic balance in his appointments in government and key offices amid accusations he has overwhelmingly appointed individuals from his Masvingo and Midlands home provinces.
The analysts are warning that by increasingly appointing individuals from the Karanga group into vital and strategic positions, Mnangagwa is failing the ethic balancing test, and this could backfire.
University of Zimbabwe political science Professor Eldred Masunungure told The NewsHawks that unlike the late longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa has failed dismally to ensure that key tribes “see themselves in the apex” of state power.
“It is vital to be clear about the issue of primordial politics (like ethnic politics) and attendant appointments. First is that ethnicity is a salient and perhaps inevitable fact of political life in Zimbabwe and indeed in most countries with ethnic identities,” said Prof Masunungure.
“The trick is not to avoid the ethnic variable in political appointments, but how to manage this factor so that it does not trigger vicious ethnically based conflicts and tensions. Under ex-President Mugabe, it was evident that the centre of gravity of party and state power was Mashonaland West and, within it, Zvimba.
“There were even elements of nepotism in appointments. The outer circle of this arrangement included the other two Mashonaland provinces i.e., Mashonaland East and Central that were perceived as part of Zezuruland. However, RG [Mugabe] was more skillful at ethnic arithmetic by ensuring that every ethnic group could ‘see’ itself at the apex of state power, that is, in the presidium, politburo and in cabinet as well as other powerful positions.”
Under Mnangagwa, the skillful political ethnic arithmetic practised by Mugabe has been lost.
Prof Masunungure said the state of affairs in government, therefore, defeats the mantra of “leaving no one behind” which Mnangagwa and his henchmen have been parroting.
“Things look different under the Second Republic. While ethnic arithmetic was a primary consideration under Mugabe, it is a secondary factor under ED [Mnangagwa] with the centre of gravity decisively shifting from Mashonaland West to Masvingo and Midlands that form part of Karangaland, with the Midlands being the favoured province and, within it, Mberengwa,” said Prof Masunungure.
“Public perceptions (and as you know these are more important than the reality) are that the ethnicisation of public appointments has now taken more egregious dimensions with potentially pernicious consequences for nation building and social cohesion. If some ethnic identities don’t ‘see’ themselves at the top (which appears to be the case now), this generates feelings of alienation and marginalisation which in turn defeats the mantra of ‘leaving no one and no place behind’. It is imperative that such feelings of peripheralisation or being outsiders be addressed with urgency and determination before they corrode the sense of national belonging. The ball is squarely in the President’s court.”
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu concurred, saying Mnangagwa is taking the wrong path in his ethnic politics by failing to learn from his longtime mentor, Mugabe.
“I think there is a continued tribalisation and ethnification of politics in Zimbabwe. I am sure Mnangagwa has learnt from Mugabe, so what we are seeing now is capture of the whole political space and domination of Karanga ethnic group, the Midlands-Masvingo group in all facets of politics, be it in the security, be it in senior government appointments,” Mukundu said.
“I think Mugabe was a bit mature and a bit cleverer and a bit subtle on this matter. Whereas Mnangagwa is so brazen to the extent that his family, close associates, friends are all part of the feeding trough.”
Mukundu, who is also a media development expert, said already it seems there is state capture in Zimbabwe by Mnangagwa’s ethnic Karanga group and his family.
“So there is every evidence that we are seeing a capture of the state by an ethnic group and, beyond that, a family which, of course, is meant to facilitate the easy looting and personal benefit from the country’s wealth,” he said.
Mnangagwa, in his cabinet appointments, became the first leader of the country since colonial times of Ian Smith to appoint his child and direct relatives.
Deputising Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is Mnangagwa’s son, Kudakwashe David Mnangagwa, who has no known qualifications or track record in economics beyond a tourism degree he earned barely a year ago from Lupane State University.
The ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion was retained by Professor Mthuli Ncube, who is accused of plunging the country down an economic abyss with the highest inflation rate in the world and a moribund currency.
The tourism and hospitality ministry, which was split from the tourism and environment portfolio, was assigned to a woman, Barbra Rwodzi, who has no international profile. Rwodzi is from Mnangagwa’s Midlands province.
She is known for instigating violence at the Pan-African Parliament during a heated debate and back home where she threatened a police officer who had arrested a thug linked to her election campaign.
Rwodzi, who is from Chirumanzu in the Midlands, is deputised by Tongai Mnangagwa, with no known record in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Tasked with running the local government ministry is yet another of Mnangagwa’s clansmen from the Midlands province, Winston Chitando, who was the Mines minister in the last cabinet.
Chitando again does not hold solid experience in local government administration.
What has further disillusioned many in Zanu PF is that individuals tasked with leading key line ministries were drawn from the list of the President’s family members, friends, clansmen, relatives and hangers-on.
What has aggravated the disillusionment is that, on Karanga ethnic lines, ministers from the previous cabinet whose performance was below par were either merely reshuffled or retained in their portfolios.
Thabani Vusa Mpofu, a Midlander and a presumed Mnangagwa relative, is still holding onto the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the President’s Office as it is yet to be reshuffled despite having become moribund over the years.
Mnangagwa and the Rushwayas are blood relatives as they are his nephews and nieces.
Resultantly, Martin Rushwaya, a nephew, was appointed Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet last month.
The same Rushwaya is a close relative of Henrietta Rushwaya and Helliet Rushwaya.
Under Mnangagwa’s administration, Helliet once served as acting chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation which is entrusted with running the Zanu PF government’s moribund propaganda unit, while Henrietta gained infamy after she was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport with six kilogrammes of gold while in the company of a team of Mnangagwa’s personal bodyguards who included Stephen Tserayi.
Henrietta retained her position at the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation, despite facing serious charges that exposed the massive leakages in the country’s extractives sector.
Mike Madiro, a Mnangagwa ally since the “Tsholotsho Declaration” that was supposed to be made at Dinyane Primary School in 2004 to catapult him to be Vice-President before Mugabe picked Joice Mujuru, is now board chairperson of the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
Madiro was appointed by Mnangagwa last month.
He was the Manicaland provincial chairperson in 2004 and travelled to Tsholotsho to do Mnangagwa’s bidding at the ill-fated Dinyane meeting where the ambitious gladiator failed to gatecrash into the presidium as Vice-President.
Madiro’s recent appointment is a reward for the long journey he has traversed with Mnangagwa.
In order to manage the security sector and achieve coup-proofing strategies, Isaac Moyo, another maternal uncle of Mnangagwa, was recalled from South Africa where he was serving as the country’s ambassador and appointed to be the head of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Reports also say the Commander Defence of the Zimbabwe Forces, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, is closely linked to Mnangagwa as they share the same totem, Shumba. This means the security sector is aligned with Mnangagwa’s clansmen.
Misheck Sibanda, who was replaced by Rushwaya, was again from the same bloodline.
Paul Mangwana, a fellow clansman of Mnangagwa and close associate, is the Zanu PF secretary for Legal Affairs, while the brother Ndavaningi “Nick” Mangwana was brought in from the United Kingdom to become the chief government spokesperson in his capacity as the permanent secretary in the ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services.
Upon his appointment as Vice-President under Mugabe in 2014, Mnangagwa demonstrated his excesses when he bequeathed his Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe parliamentary seat to his wife, Auxilia.
July Moyo, who for long was leader of the Lacoste faction which overpowered the rival G40 formation in the succession battle during Mugabe’s twilight, was retained in cabinet, this time as Public Service minister, despite his dismal performance in the previous cabinet as Local Government minister where he was caught in multiple corruption scandals.
Mnangagwa also tried to keep his political interests in Kwekwe alive by retaining Owen “Mudha” Ncube as Midlands provincial affairs minister after having fired him as State Security minister for “conduct inappropriate for a minister of government”.
Professor Amon Murwira from Nzuwa village in Gutu, Masvingo, is in the current cabinet. Another Karanga from Zvishavane, who is also a long-time ally of Mnangagwa implicated in the infamous Willowgate scandal in which he was convicted for criminal conduct, Frederick Shava, was retained as Foreign minister in the current cabinet.
Despite Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri having complained that army generals had no respect for her, she was retained as Defence minister. While she is widely touted as the Manicaland godmother, she is a key Mnangagwa ally who despite speaking with a heavy Manyika accent, is actually Karanga and comes from Masvingo.
Her father moved to Manicaland province as an agricultural extension worker (mudhumeni/umlimisi) and settled in the province.
Muchinguri-Kashiri was reportedly influential in the appointment of her own niece, the late Ellen Gwaradzimba as provincial minister of Manicaland and Nokuthula Matsekenyeri, who had to be struck off from the cabinet list because Mnangagwa had exceeded the required number of non-elected MPs appointed into cabinet.
Jenfan Muswere, a close friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa Junior, was rescued from the loss in a primary election and appointed Information minister on the basis of his relationship with the President’s son.