Mnangagwa in tight spot over picking Vice Presidents

December 17, 2017
| Report Focus News

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing a tough time in choosing his two deputies after strong backlash for picking a militarised cabinet early in December.

Mnangagwa appointed two senior military officers to key portfolios in his first cabinet and dropped close allies of Robert Mugabe who resigned after the armed forces took control of the country.

President Mnangagwa appointed as foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, the army major general who went on state television announcing the military’s take-over, a dramatic power grab which culminated in Mugabe stepping down a week later.

The long-serving airforce commander Perence Shiri also became the lands and agriculture minister.

All eyes on Constantino Chiwenga

The omission of the military head General Constantino Chiwenga suggested that he was being earmarked for one of the country’s two deputy president posts, according to reports.

There is also speculation that the army chief, who is is widely believed to have orchestrated the military take over leading to end of Mugabe’s 37-year rule, is likely to be elevated to the vice presidency seat during the upcoming Zanu-PF congress.

However, The Standard is reporting that Mnangagwa is facing a tough balancing act in appointing his two deputies amid indications he is under pressure to reward the military for playing a pivotal role in removing long-time ruler Mugabe.

Mnangagwa did not appoint his deputies as expected at the just ended Zanu-PF conference, saying “he needed to wait for certain institutional processes” to run its course.

‘An invidious position’ 

Analyst believe that Mugabe’s successor wanted to appoint Chiwenga as one of his deputies but had to also balance the competing interest of his backers before ascending into the presidency last month.

“I don’t envy President Mnangagwa’s current position,” said UK based political analyst Reward Mushayabasa, who is a former media lecturer.

“He seems to be in a very invidious position where he has to balance the competing interests of all the stakeholders who cleared the way for his ascendancy to power.”

Mushayabasa, however, added that in his view the president was being remote controlled by the military who had him installed as Zanu-PF leader and Zimbabwe’s president.

An unnamed source within the ruling party who claimed to know “the plan with the VP appointments”, however, said Chiwenga and defence minister Kembo Mohadi are tipped for appointment this week.