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Zanu PF Game of Thrones: Chiwenga ally booted out as Mnangagwa consolidates power

The fierce battle for control within Zanu PF continues to play out with President Emmerson Mnangagwa axing Zanu PF national commissar Engelbert Rugeje, considered an ally of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and replacing him with his own ally Victor Matemadanda.

War Vets Secretary General Victor Matemadanda
Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary general Victor Matemadanda

Other changes will also see another Mnangagwa ally, Douglas Mahiya, assuming the position of secretary — in charge of former liberation war fighters – while Headman Moyo will deputise him.

To play down the developments Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said Rugeje will be redeployed to another position sometime in September.

Speaking during a press briefing in Harare, Khaya Moyo said; “The politburo has appointed Cde Matemadanda to the position of secretary for commissariat replacing Cde Rugeje. Cde Rugeje will remain a politburo member pending re-deployment in September this year.”

Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu also chipped in to say there was nothing sinister about Rugeje’s “re-assignment”. “The changes are meant to strengthen the party,” Mpofu claimed.

Zanu-PF party's national political commissar Retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje addresses party supporters at a meeting in Tsholotsho. Listening from left is member of parliament for Tsholotsho South constituency Zenzo Sibanda
Former Zanu-PF national political commissar Retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje addresses party supporters at a meeting in Tsholotsho. Listening from left is member of parliament for Tsholotsho South constituency Zenzo Sibanda

Mnangagwa has been on a relentless purge of military figures seen as being aligned to the powerful former army general turned Vice President (Chiwenga) who helped mastermind the military coup in November 2017 that toppled former president Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa retired Major-general Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, who was commander of the elite Presidential Guard. Air vice-marshall Shebba Shumbayawonda, who was the acting commander of the air force under Mugabe was also retired alongside Major-General Martin Chedondo.

A fierce defender of Mugabe’s rule, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba was also retired.

After surviving a bomb attack at White City Stadium in Bulawayo in 2017, Mnangagwa has changed his security team, replacing the mainly army units that were guarding him with men in suits. He now has a mixture of army, police and airforce units in charge of his security. Nehanda Radio