President Emmerson Mnangagwa wielded the axe on War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa following questions about the Zanu PF spokesperson’s dealings with foreign investors and political manoeuvring, it has emerged.
Mutsvangwa’s sacking was announced through a statement signed by Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday where he also revealed the appointment of three new deputy ministers.
Former ZBC employee Omphile Marupi was appointed Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister, Sheilla Chikomo will deputise Fredrick Shava in the Foreign Affairs and International Trade portfolio and Benjamin Kubikira is Winston Chitando’s deputy in the Local and Public Works ministry.
The announcement of Mutsvangwa’s sacking was a footnote in the brief statement, but government sources said Mnangagwa wielded the axe primarily because of the war veterans’ leader’s business deals.
“Besides the politics, there are primarily two reasons why he was dismissed,” said the senior government official.
“There were questions about his deals with Chinese businesses that are setting up shop in Zimbabwe.
“The other reason has to do with deals by one of his sons, who is running some questionable businesses.”
It was not immediately clear, which of Mutsvangwa’s sons is being linked to his father’s troubles, but recently there were allegations that Neville had advertised that he was selling Starlink internet kits in Zimbabwe.
Starlink is yet to be given permission to operate in Zimbabwe and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe said selling the American company’s internet kits was illegal.
Mutsvangwa is a former ambassador to China and has been at the forefront of promoting Chinese investments in Zimbabwe.
“He is always at the airport to receive Chinese delegations and has a hand in most of the deals by companies from that country. There has been growing discomfort about his influence,” the source said.
There were also revelations that war veterans were up in arms with Mutsvangwa over the way he was handling a business deal with a big Chinese investor and the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA).
A war veterans leader said they had not seen any documentation to prove that the association was part of the deal and they believed that Mutsvangwa personalised it.
Mutsvangwa also raised eyebrows last week when he seemed to challenge the changing of board members at the state-controlled Zimpapers and ZBC.
Mnangagwa approves the appointment and dismissal of boards in parastatals and companies such as Zimpapers. Mutsvangwa claimed that the fired board members had delivered victory for Zanu PF in the disputed 2023 harmonised elections.
His wife Monica appointed the board members when she was Information minster before she was shunted to the Women’s Affairs ministry after Mnangagwa publicly complained about the ministry’s poor performance.
Meanwhile, some Zanu PF insiders believe Mutsvangwa’s sacking had, to some extent, to do with his alleged plot to be appointed into the Zanu PF presidium as one of the vice-presidents.
He has allegedly been canvassing for support especially in the Midlands province for him to replace Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Sources said Mutsvangwa had managed to solicit support from some diplomats in the country as he did in 2017 where he became the face of the military coup that ousted the late president Robert Mugabe.
Mutsvangwa became the face of the coup representing a constituency of disgruntled ex-combatants, former and serving officers tired of Mugabe’s misrule and his attempt to make his wife, Grace, his successor.
Mutsvangwa was not picking calls when he was contacted for comment yesterday.
“He was engineering purges within the Zanu PF ranks to weaken the faction aligned to Chiwenga as he regarded himself as the rightful candidate to deputise Mnangagwa,” a source said
“Good at gossip and rumour mongering to Mnangagwa, Mutsvangwa has fallen by his own sword.
“His relationship with Chiwenga had gone so sour so much that Mnangagwa had to fire him to douse the fire.”
Mutsvangwa is not new to controversy over his ambitions to become a member of the presidency.
He played a pivotal role in the purges of former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies on allegations of plotting to oust the late Mugabe.
After Mujuru’s removal, he was made War Veterans minister, a ministerial post where he served for a few months before he was fired in 2016.
Mutsvangwa was fired for gross indiscipline after he convened a so-called illegal meeting of war veterans said to have been centred on Mugabe’s succession.
At the time, Mutsvangwa and his colleagues were believed to be linked to a Zanu PF faction that wanted Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe.
He was later expelled from Zanu PF over the same allegations.
Mutsvangwa later became the face of war veterans behind the military coup that ousted Mugabe. In 2017, war veterans circulated a document titled Blue Ocean, criticising Mugabe’s misrule.
Mugabe reacted angrily to the document. The document said Zanu PF had three options with Mnangagwa representing path 1 (where the party and government must go), Mugabe (path 2 — where the president wants the party to go) and Grace (path 3 — the path to self-destruction).
The Blue Ocean strategy also alleged that Mugabe was the real force behind G40, adding that there was bad blood between the veteran ruler and Mnangagwa.
He became Mnangagwa’s advisor after the coup, but he was dropped after a short period