According to The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, senior government sources indicated last week that military elements within the ruling Zanu-PF had “serious political ambitions”. It was believed that they wanted Mnangagwa to serve one term, if he won the upcoming elections before handing over to his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
Mnangagwa appointed Chiwenga, who led the military takeover that helped end ex-president Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, as one of the country two vice presidents in December.
“Tensions and mistrust are certainly building up in government, although things may appear rosy on the surface. The feeling is that the military clique is making too many demands both in government and the party (Zanu-PF).
“The military has been so strong that they have veto power in some cases. For instance, Mnangagwa had initially appointed Oppah Muchinguri as one of his deputies, but the military demanded that the position be given to Chiwenga, who also insisted on being in charge of defence,” an unnamed government source was quoted as saying.
The military was also reportedly still loyal to Chiwenga and had veto powers regarding some ruling Zanu-PF and government decisions.
Opposition parties last month reportedly criticised the appointment of Chiwenga as the country’s defence minister, saying it brought “full circle a sinister scheme by the military to push out Mugabe for selfish reasons”.
A New Zimbabwe.com report quoted the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party at the time as saying that the development showed exactly that Chiwenga was the “real power” behind Mnangagwa.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said that the real power behind Mnangagwa’s presidency was the military.
“It has always been clear that Chiwenga was the real power behind the throne. It’s pretty obvious that he wields tremendous power and influence in the Mnangagwa administration,” Gutu was cited as saying at the time.