Mary-Kate Kahari/Malvin Motsi
CAPE TOWN/HARARE– Recuperating Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, is reportedly going to use the country’s dreaded Joint Operations Command (JOC), to forcefully kick out President Emmerson Mnangagwa from office, and is said to be polishing the nitty-gritties of the plan from China together with a coterie of generals in government, who now want Mnangagwa gone without further delay, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
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 and foreign security affairs.
According to high ranking military sources, there is now concensus among Chiwenga’s backers in the army and generals previously involved in the ouster of the late President Robert Mugabe in the November putsch of 2017, to “decisively deal” with Mnangagwa over the collapsing economy, and revelations unearthed by military intelligence operatives in a top secret report compiled after his tour of Eurasia in January, that Mnangagwa was all but deforming Zimbabwe’s land reform policy by parcelling out massive tracks of land to foreign governments under the radar, in particular Belarus, while also all but putting the security of the country’s mineral wealth at risk, by taking policy directives from the finance ministry, to allow foreign investors to own controlling stakes of up to 100 percent equity in “strategic minerals” such as platinum and diamonds.
Mnangagwa recently shot himself in the foot here in Cape Town, during a television interview he had with Bloomberg TV, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa early this month, where he made a tacit admission that “our economy has totally collapsed”.
Hardline securocrats warned Mnangagwa, in October last year, 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 and food.
“JOC is the ultimate power behind the curtain in Zimbabwe, and it is headed by none other than Chiwenga himself,” said a defence attache stationed with the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa.
“Get ready for the shock Moab (Mother of all bombs) in our country’s politics. The military coup that was launched against Mugabe is nothing, compared to what is coming. The VP is scheming and planning from his current base in China, to kick out the present leader, with the full support of other generals working inside government. I want you to know that the military has a very tough doctrine and we stick together. Many people in Zimbabwe are not even aware that it was the vice president who picked cabinet portfolios for retired Air Chief Marshall, Perence Shiri, at lands and retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo at foreign affairs, to keep the president under the scope of the military insofar as his foreign policy is concerned. The military has it’s own foreign policy, whose approach is different from government.”
Another senior official close to Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda’s office, said the ZDF chief has been the acting head of JOC since Chiwenga started leaving the country for medical treatments in South Africa, India and now China, where he directly reports after JOC meetings, and that the latest developments in pushing Mnangagwa out earlier than his resignation, which was expected before the end of August 2020, could have something to do with Mugabe’s death and what Mugabe could have told Chiwenga prior to his death.
Furthermore, Mnangagwa’s likely successor if Chiwenga decides not to takeover, former minister Saviour Kasukuwere, is believed to have either paid the VP a private visit in China or spoke to him at length on telephone about the aftermath of Mnangagwa’s regime, when he visited Singapore this month, said the official.
“Mnangagwa asked for a grace period before he can step down as president, of no later than August 2020, but it appears the sudden change of heart by the securocrats to dethrone him early, might have something to do with what the late former president Mugabe told Chiwenga about Mnangagwa, which has proved to be true,” notes the senior official.
“There are unconfirmed reports that Chiwenga and General Sibanda spoke to Mugabe and cleared the air through an emissary of the military, although it’s not apparent if they discussed about the coup. However, Mnangagwa remained stubborn as he decided to speak to Mugabe through the Central Intelllignce Organisation boss, instead of going to see him in person considering that he was Mugabe’s protégé for years.”
Local private media reports last week suggested that Mugabe had offered Chiwenga to succeed him as president ahead of Mnangagwa, at the height of the coup, but Chiwenga refused, fearing for his security, as he thought accepting the offer would put him in the crosshairs of military commanders who would view the act as betrayal, according to a private weekly.
JOC is understood to be now treating Mnangagwa’s presidency, as a threat to national security amid more disclosures that his office and the finance ministry, are allegedly mooting to clandestinely cut deals with two unnamed conglomerates over lithium and uranium deposits in the country.
“Zimbabweans will soon realise the big picture and why it is necessary for Mnangagwa to be kicked out,” intelligence sources added.
“It is not a secret that he has close ties with a mobile communications entreprenuer front, who happens to be smuggling pejorative economic policies through the finance ministry. Military intelligence has discovered many covert and rogue deals, including the fact that Belarus will soon become the biggest foreign land owner in this country. Minsk is targeting massive tracks of land for agriculture and other purposes, which are far more than the official hectares confirmed by their leader, Alexander Lukashenko.”
Belarus has become the first foreign nation to be allocated virgin land by Mnangagwa’s administration, following his tour of Eurasia in January this year, where he established a new economic cooperation with Minsk, centered on agriculture and the supply of agricultural equipment by Belarus to Harare.
According to Belarus Segodnya, a daily newspaper, Belarus has received 10 000 hectares of land for agricultural production in Zimbabwe. The agro-industrial holding run by the Office of Belarus President will begin large-scale production of meat and dairy products in Zimbabwe soon. Experts from Minsk are already now in Harare to select the plots of land, test the soil and identify the type of fertilizers needed. Belarus and its team of investors have indicated an interest to developing the 10 000 hectares of land in the Kanyemba Mbire District area, located on the south bank of the Zambezi river at the extreme northernmost point of Zimbabwe at the meeting point of the Zimbabwean, Mozambican and Zambian borders.
Ironically, Mugabe put Mnangagwa in charge of JOC as chairman, in 2008 to ensure that the late veteran leader won a second round presidential ballot, when he became aware he had lost that year’s March 29 presidential election to late opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mnangagwa came in to replace former state security minister, Didymus Mutasa, who was his predecessor as JOC chairman.
Chiwenga has been heading JOC since December 2017, when he was first appointed VP and minister of defence and war veterans.
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