THREE ministers in the Midlands province are in trouble with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies who believe First Lady Grace Mugabe was behind their appointments into government as Zanu PF factionalism tears apart the province. Mnangagwa is seen as the Midlands province’s political godfather.
The three ministers appointed by President Robert Mugabe in September — Makhosini Hlongwane, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Annastacia Ndlovu — are spending sleepless nights, as they are now accused of disloyalty and defection to the group of young Turks, referred to as Generation 40 (G40), reportedly led by Grace.
Zanu PF is divided along two major rival factions pitting Grace’s G40 and Mnangagwa, who are locked in a bitter succession wrangle to replace Mugabe.
In a bid to seek protection, the ministers wrote to the party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who chairs the national disciplinary committee, narrating their story.
Hlongwane is the minister of Sports and Recreation, Ndlovu, deputy minister of Tourism, while Matangaidze is deputy minister of Public Service.
In the Midlands provincial executive, Hlongwane is the secretary for the commissariat and Matangaidze secretary for administration, while Ndlovu is the secretary for production and labour in the national Youth League.
The trio are complaining about continuous political attacks they are enduring from Mnangagwa’s close allies since they were appointed to government as ministers.
“We the undersigned, are writing to you in your capacity as national secretary for the commissariat, charged with the responsibility of maintaining order and discipline within the party,” reads the letter.
“Since the appointments, we have been under incessant attacks from Owen Mudha Ncube (secretary for security in the Midlands province), Justice Mayor Wadyajena (secretary for administration in the Midlands youth league), Edmore Samambwa (The youth provincial chairman) and other members of the Youth League who allege our appointments were G40-motivated.
“The coincidence of our appointments and the attacks clearly point to a mischievous contempt of the powers of the president, especially given that we were darlings of the province up to just after the appointments,” the letter reads.
“The above, among others, have alleged that the appointments have nothing to do with Midlands province and therefore, should be dismissed with such contempt.”
The letter also states that: “The reason we have decided to speak out on this matter, is the clear pattern of the erosion of respect in the person and office of the president who is the one and only centre of power.”
The three ministers also chronicle events in the provincial management meeting held on November 5 where “Mudha chanted slogans saying pasi naMakhosini Hlongwane, pasi naSaviour Kasukuwere, pasi naJonathan Moyo, pasi naPatrick Zhuwao nokuti ingochani (Down with Saviour Kasukuwere, down with Jonathan Moyo, down with Patrick Zhuwao because they are homosexuals),” the letter says.
In the letter, the ministers also state that during Grace’s rally in Mberengwa, a group of youths (hired thugs who were bussed from Kwekwe), denigrated Grace and Mphoko. “It is poignant to further note that, prior to the appointments to the ministerial positions, July Moyo and Mudha had anticipated appointments into cabinet, the basis of which we do not know. Once it became clear that they were not part of the ministers appointed by the president, the attacks escalated in ways that are now a threat to our personal lives,” the letter says.
“It is also important to note that the Midlands conference (ahead of the People’s annual conference) was virtually ungovernable and cannot be said to be a successful conference. The thugs were marauding as if high on some substance, they had no respect for any leadership and Ncube, the self-proclaimed commander in chief of these so called Al-Shabaab militias was visibly mobilising them into action in full view of all conference delegates.”
The three also said they were victimised and accused of working with G40 because they attended Grace’s rallies.
“In respect of this particular point, please note that it has been raised in the properly structured Midlands provincial executive meeting whose minutes are being submitted.”
“It must be pointed out that the idea of clubbing all ministers in the Midlands province into submission, is designed to remove their loyalty from President Robert Mugabe so as to get them submitting to an alternative narrative.”
In one of the provincial meetings ahead of the conference, Matangaidze had to scurry for cover after a group of angry youths charged at him labelling him a member of the G40. Matangaidze reportedly fled to safety after Mnangagwa’s allies threatened to beat him up labelling him a “rebel” and “traitor”.