Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has fired defiant War Veterans Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and within hours replaced him with his deputy Tshinga Dube.
Tshinga, a former head of the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, was sworn in on Saturday at State House in Harare.
Principal director in the information ministry Regis Chikowore told journalists at State House on Saturday:
“He [Mutsvangwa] was relieved of his duties yesterday [Friday].”
Mugabe fired Mutsvangwa a day after he had suspended him from Zanu-PF for three years during the party's politburo meeting.
The politburo is Zanu-PF's supreme decision-making body. Allegations against Mutsvangwa are that he was undermining the authority of the first family.
Until Friday, Mutsvangwa also served as the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association chairman.
Zanu-PF is locked in factional wars, with one side, “Generation-40”, having the likes of first lady Grace Mugabe, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao, who is also Indigenisation, Youth, and Empowerment Minister, as well as Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko among its rank-and-file.
There is also the other faction said to be led Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, going by the moniker “Team Lacoste”, named after Mnangagwa's nickname “Ngwena” which means crocodile.
Mutsvangwa is said to be a key figure in “Team Lacoste”.
In mid-February, Mugabe flanked by Mnangagwa and Mphoko said “action will be taken where action needs to be taken” in reference to Mutsvangwa, who stood accused of organising an illegal demonstration for ex-freedom fighters, which was brutally crushed by police who used tear smoke and water cannon to disperse the swelling crowds.
“We take exception to that. This irresponsible manner brings the name of the party and head of government into disrepute. People are beginning to wonder whether, in fact, we are governing properly in accordance with the rules,” Mugabe said during the national address.
But the feisty Mutsvangwa seemed unfazed by the dismissal, somehow showing Mugabe the middle finger.
He was quoted in the privately-owned paper NewsDay as saying he did not care about the suspension and even the ministerial post. “I neither care for that politburo post, nor indeed for the ministerial appointments,” Mutsvangwa was quoted saying on Saturday.
“So Norton constituency yes, war veterans' chairmanship yes, politburo and cabinet appointments, I don't really care. In fact, two days ago, I asked his excellency [Mugabe] the honour of dismissing me because I only came in to save the revolutionary ethos and not to be served.”
The former ambassador to China was further quoted: “To understand that, over the years, I developed autonomous self-actualisation capabilities stemming from the sustained hostility by his [Mugabe] government even as he showed partiality to me. So I have no sobs over the abuse of his high office to hound me.”
Mutsvangwa said after his “bitter” experience as Zimbabwe's ambassador to China, he now had a general loathing for assignments that solely depended on an individual's discretion.