Zimbabwe parliamentarians expelled over Grace Mugabe link

In apparent purge by Emmerson Mnangagwa, five enemies in Zanu-PF pushed out

Zimbabwe’s former minister of finance Ignatius Chombo  leaves Harare Magistrate Court shackled to former Zanu-PF Youth League chairperson Kudzai Chipanga. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty

Zimbabwe’s former minister of finance Ignatius Chombo leaves Harare Magistrate Court shackled to former Zanu-PF Youth League chairperson Kudzai Chipanga. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty

 

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has withdrawn five senior parliamentarians who were linked to a faction in the movement that had backed ousted president Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to become the country’s next leader.

In what appears to be a purge of new president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s enemies from Zanu-PF, the National Assembly was told on Wednesday that the men, four of whom were government ministers, had been expelled from the movement.

In his written notification to the National Assembly, Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa said that, as a result of their expulsion, they could no longer serve in government.

All of the dismissed men are linked to the Generation 40 faction in Zanu-PF. This group had backed Mr Mugabe’s decision to fire Mr Mnangagwa as his deputy on November 6th, a move that led to the 93-year-old former president’s downfall.

Mr Mugabe had wanted to replace Mr Mnangagwa as vice-president with the first lady at a special Zanu-PF congress scheduled for early December. That appointment would have paved the way for Ms Mugabe to assume the presidency when her husband eventually stepped down, or if he died in office.

Military takeover

However, Mr Mnangagwa’s sacking prompted the army to instigate a military takeover a week later, and Mr Mugabe’s resignation as the country’s president followed on November 21st, ending his 37 years in power.

Mr Mnangagwa was sworn into office last Friday as Zimbabwe’s second president since independence was secured from colonial rule in 1980.

Before their expulsion from parliament, Savior Kasukuwere was the minister for local government; Jonathon Moyo was the education minister; Mandiitawepi Chimene was minister of provincial affairs; Kudzai Chipanga was an MP and Zanu-PF’s secretary for youth; and Ignatius Chombo served as minister for finance and economic development.

Mr Chipanga and Mr Chombo are in jail in Harare, having been charged with communicating falsehoods and corruption respectively. They have been denied bail as they are seen as a flight risk.

Mr Kasukuwere, Mr Moyo and Mr Chimene are believed to have fled the country following the military takeover, and their whereabouts is unknown.

Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke told the online newspaper, the Daily Maverick, that more Zanu-PF members are expected to be expelled for “fuelling divisions and anarchy”, as the initial clearout had only dealt with individuals from three of the country’s eight provinces.

Coffers looted

Earlier this week, Mr Mnangagwa also gave people who had looted state coffers and resources and moved their ill-gotten gains outside of the country until next February to return the wealth – or risk prosecution.

During a 2016 interview aired on the state broadcaster to coincide with Mr Mugabe’s birthday celebrations that year, the former president revealed that diamonds worth more than $13 billion (€11 billion) had been looted from the eastern mining area of Marange.

“We [the government] have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2 billion, yet we think more than $15 billion has been earned,” Mr Mugabe said during the interview.

The majority of those behind the looting are believed to be in the ruling party.