Itai Mushekwe/Mary-Kate Kahari
COLOGNE/HARARE– Combative Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, and a hardline military faction backing his political doctrine and ambitions, are reportedly on the verge of booting President Emmerson Mnangagwa out of office at any moment now, through another subtle military intervention, allegedly called ‘Operation Restore Economy’, Spotlight Zimbabwe, can exclusively reveal.
The revelations by well placed military intelligence sources and long-time serving former cabinet ministers, come at a time when the country’s economy is descending into near collapse, with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority this week, hiking the pump price of diesel and petrol to ZWL$4,89 and ZWL$4,97, respectively. The annual inflation rate in Harare has also soared to 75.86% in April 2019, up from 66.8% in March.
Mnangagwa is said to have been warned by the army in October 2018, to urgently put the country’s economic house in order, as they feared a possible popular uprising over his administration’s new extortionate taxes, uncontrollable price escalations, and growing shortages of fuel, but he has failed to find a breakthrough thus far.
Operation Restore Economy, the sources say is reminiscent of the November 2017 Operation Restore Legacy, a military campaign which triggered the demise of former leader Robert Mugabe. The operation started on the 13th of November 2017 and ended on the 18th of December 2017, with Chiwenga and current Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, being the main protagonists and masterminds of the ‘smart coup’ which led to Mugabe’s resignation after 37 years in power.
Spotlight Zimbabwe, reported last week that Mnangagwa is due to tender his resignation as the country’s leader in less than twelve months, to avoid a humiliating exit, after failing to resolve Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and suffering an alleged business fallout with powerful securocrats rooting for Chiwenga, to either take over or name a successor to finish off Mnangagwa’s term.
According to fresh information from the intelligence sources and former ministers, Mnangagwa is keen to save face and resign to avoid humiliation, but a Zanu PF faction supporting his presidency is resisting the move, together with one of his own ministers thought to be “engaging some hostile world powers in secret” to rescue his boss through an emergency economic bailout package, thus the army resorting to launch preparations of the operation, as all indications are that Zimbabwe is unlikely to get any meaningful economic loans, thereby breeding grounds for popular uproar and political instability in the country, if the economy fails to find a new captain altogether.
“The General (Chiwenga) might not be in the best of shape health wise, but an elaborate plan in already on the table to boot Mnangagwa out of power,” one of the sources said in a telephone briefing last night. “What people do not know is that, this army operation code named ‘Restore Economy’ is three- pronged in nature. This means the military has at least three ways and options of making sure that Mnangagwa is gone. The first is a recall by the party, allowing CGNC to replace him in the fashion and manner, the ANC dealt with Jacob Zuma in February 2018; an impeachment parliamentary process over the deteriorating economy; or call for his arraignment in the killing of innocent protesters in August 2018 and early this year.”
Two former cabinet ministers under Mugabe, one of them having worked in a national security related portfolio some years ago said the army operation against Mnangagwa, has been planned and necessitated also by intelligence reports that one of the powerful ministries in government, is now allegedly involved in “quasi presidential activities” through foreign hands signalling a dangerous capture and threat to national security, without giving further detail.
“Our media perhaps chooses to be blind and passive, but there is a complex political power matrix in our government,” the ex- ministers said. “You guys only focus on the so called cartel inside the country, without a clue about the real usurper. Thanks to our central and military intelligence, we are fairly safe. There is a ministry that has been running around world capitals canvassing political support to enable Mnangagwa to finish his term, and potentially stand for re-election, but that is not going to happen. The army is angry with the foreign interference. You will soon find out more about the hidden faces behind all this.”
Spotlight Zimbabwe has also gathered that Chiwenga in now in favour of former reserve bank governor, Gideon Gono, to replace Mnangagwa should his health woes continue to trouble him. However the army is believed to prefer an arrangement where Chiwenga takes over the presidency on a transitional basis until 2023, when fresh presidential and parliamentary elections are due.
Gono was first appointed as governor of the central bank in November 2003 because of his reputation as a turnaround specialist, particularly because of his work at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe. Chiwenga, who is a friend of Gono might be looking at Gono’s background and credentials as the better candidate to attempt an economic revitalisation, where Mnangagwa has failed.
Other contenders being considered include: former defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi; current defence minister though remote-Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri; former Zanu PF political commissar and local government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.
The other emerging dark horses are from within the military camp, and these are foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Busi Moyo and his counterpart in cabinet lands and agriculture minister, Air Marshal Perence Shiri.
Meanwhile Chiwenga is reportedly back under the knife for the second time in India, where media reports suggest he was airlifted for treatment from the capital late at night on May 18.
Spotlight Zimbabwe, is going to make a full report on Chiwenga’s health woes mystery, and what is really transpiring in the background.