COLOGNE– Hardline securocrats have reportedly warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa to urgently put the country’s economic house in order, as they fear a possible popular uprising over his administration’s new extortionate taxes, uncontrollable price escalations, and growing shortages of fuel and food, which might ultimately topple him from power prematurely, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
According to high ranking military sources and a former minister in ex-leader President Robert Mugabe’s dethroned government who ran a security related ministry, the nation’s security bosses warned Mnangagwa to find a quick panacea to the comatose economy, to avoid a popular revolt, during a recent Joint Operations Command (JOC) meeting on national security in the capital.
JOC is a shadowy quasi military organ, bringing together the country’s military-security complex which includes the army, and its military intelligence wing and Presidential Guard, Air Force, Police, Prisons and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to manage homeland security affairs.
The army does not want to be forced to intervene and square off against “unarmed angry civilians”, or to make a repeat of the brutal August election protest killings episode to save his government, our sources said.
At least six people died and dozens sustained life-threatening injuries on August 1, when soldiers and anti riot police were mysteriously deployed into Harare’s central business district, turning it into a warzone, as innocent residents awaited the controversial result of the July 30 presidential poll. A Commssion of Inquiry headed by former South African leader, Kgalema Motlanthe, has been appointed by Mnangagwa to look into the deadly shootings by the military during the tragic post-election protests.
The revelations are also coming on the backcloth of a thickening plot by the opposition and Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF internal rivals, to impeach him over the worsening economy, in a bid to end his rule hardly after three months in office. Mnangagwa himself admitted in May this year, that he was aware of the scheme to oust him by some party members who had won primary elections at the time, saying he “got intelligence” on the issue.
There is division in Mnangagwa’s cabinet and ruling party, over a new 2c per dollar tax, largely seen as orwellian which has been imposed on electronic transactions by new finance minister Mthuli Ncube, which critics say will condemn suffering ordinary Zimbabweans to abject poverty.
Ncube’s ambush tax announcement in his maiden monetary policy presentation as finance minister early this month, last week triggered price hikes and panic buying of gasoline, reportedly causing ministers in social services to worry that the new tax regime would damage the new government’s image after the new austerity measure was resoundingly rejected by the public.
“The president was warned to urgently bring order to the country’s economy, to wrestle and reverse the current economic meltdown which is now sliding into depression levels,” our military sources said.
“During the meeting a fortnight ago, he (Mnangagwa) was bluntly told to treat the economic crisis, as a serious national security threat, as military intelligence reports suggest that a popular uprising might soon force him out of power prematurely.”
One of the military generals, who currently holds a key cabinet post and sits in JOC is said to have told Mnangagwa that: “Security forces do not want a repeat of the shootings in August, and that they will not intervene by having to be forced to shoot unarmed and angry civilians, to save him.”
The general’s account has been corroborated by the former minister in Mugabe’s cabinet, who held a sensitive security portfolio.
“They (military chiefs) don’t want to order their troops to go to war with civilians,” the minister said. “Unlike the unfortunate events of November 2017 where they had no choice, the army does not want to be deployed to save this government, should people engage in a peaceful mass uprising. That is why you see the finance minister busy, he is firefighting the situation and Mnangagwa has told him to find an economic bailout package for Zimbabwe, should they fail to contain the situation.”
As if to confirm Spotlight Zimbabwe’s story, Mnangagwa this week in his first installment of a new weekly column he’s going to be penning in a state newspaper, said he has set his sights on illegal currency trading, describing the practise and other rogue financial activities as “a threat to national security”.
The government’s publication, also reveals that Mnangagwa summoned his security cluster (not JOC), to discuss the matter, therefore paving way for the arrest of high profile figures suspected of masterminding black market operations.
Mnangagwa’s spokesman, George Charamba’s mobile phone was on voicemail last night when we sought an official comment from him.
Zimbabweans last staged riots triggered by a wave of price escalations and exorbitant taxes in 1998. At least 10 people were killed during the demonstrations which saw the army deploying tanks on the streets.
Meanwhile Spotlight Zimbabwe, yesterday gathered that there is growing anxiety in official circles, over the health of vice president, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, who was flown to an elite South African hospital for treatment. Reports late last night indicated that the VP has been flown back home aboard a hired private jet, which landed at Manyame Air Base at 18:50 hours. It is not clear if Chiwenga is out of the woods, as he seemed to be a bit frail, despite putting a brave smile, those at the Harare airbase when he arrived maintain.
Chiwenga is seen as the silent power behind the curtain in Zimbabwe, after having led a peaceful putsch against Mugabe last year. The army general, then invited Mnangagwa from South African exile, to return home and take up the presidency, after he had initially been fired from Zanu PF and government.
An army faction of hardballers is reportedly backing him to takeover from Mnangagwa even before the scheduled 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections, and there are fears that should anything happen to him, the country might be plunged into chaos.