PRESSURE is mounting on President Robert Mugabe to restructure his administration as a barrage of complaints against a number of his ministers are showering in from various directions in developments that, if he takes heed, could trigger a Cabinet reshuffle. Calls from the party, government and even from his wife, the First Lady Grace Mugabe, fingering some of his ministers in “unacceptable behaviour”, could see some heads roll.
On top of the list could be Deputy Justice Minister Fortune Chasi, whom the First Lady has castigated for resisting her attempts to acquire more land in Mazowe to enable her to build a hospital, a university and generate more income for her children’s home. At the just ended ZANU-PF youth conference held in Harare, incensed party youths chanted anti-Chasi slogans throughout the indaba.
Outgoing ZANU-PF deputy secretary for youth affairs, Edson Chakanyuka, told the Financial Gazette that the league has since submitted a written request to President Mugabe to have Chasi removed from office, signifying that his days in Cabinet could be numbered. “Chasi cannot do that to the First Lady. There is no way we can allow that to happen. We have requested that he should be removed from office immediately. He is finished,” declared Chakanyuka.
The future of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Francis Nhema, as a minister, has also been cast into doubt amid signals that he has lost favour with the militant ZANU-PF youths who are baying for his blood. Nhema came under heavy criticism at the 6th Youth League conference, with participants appealing to the President to have him removed from office.
The resolution was made during the committee stage of the conference when they broke into closed committees to discuss various subjects to issues affecting them. “Our committee agreed that we appeal to the President to give us a new minister who is friendly to the youths and who is prepared to listen to our concerns. The current minister is not friendly to the youths. He turns us away from his office each time we try to approach him. Many youths have been turned away from his office on the grounds they are not well presented and are not smart enough to meet him,” said one Blessed Ziwome, who presented the resolutions of the committee on social services and poverty reduction, to a rousing applause from the over 300 strong crowd.
The youths also felt that Nhema was not a vibrant politician who would represent their aspirations with vigour. Nhema swapped ministries with Saviour Kasukuwere last year, the latter taking up the Environment portfolio. When Kasukuwere was still at the helm of the ministry, the youths fell in love with his combative behaviour. But when Nhema took over, he came in with a moderate approach.
While the soft approach is yet to show results in attracting investors, the cool arms’ length treatment of the youths is attracting a backlash. Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa who is struggling to scrounge around for funds to resource the economy which is threatening to grind to a halt, could also be a casualty should the axe be wielded. Government has of late been failing to pay its employees on time and this has not done any favour to the Finance Minister who has been globetrotting in search of finances in vain.
The first indications that Chinamasa was in trouble surfaced early this year when President Mugabe exerted pressure on him to find innovative ways of funding the bloated wage bill and increase civil servants’ salaries. As the nation looks on with bated breath to see if the President will act, analysts are divided on whether or not the country’s chief executive will roll any heads.
Political analyst, Alexander Rusero, says although President Mugabe will eventually wield the axe, he is not likely to give in to the pressure anytime soon. “The President will eventually wield the axe but I do not expect him to jump at the word of the First Lady and the youths. Proper communication is done behind the scenes and considering that he is battling to hold the fractured party together ahead of the watershed congress in December, I think he would not act before then,” Rusero said.
“He will certainly act because the last thing he would want is a disgruntled youths and women who constitute the biggest political market but to say that they can echo certain sentiments push Mugabe to do something instantly is stretching their influence too far. He is very slow at making decision. No one ever knows Mugabe’s next move until it is brought to the fore,” he added.