Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during a meeting with Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Natalia Fedosenko/TASS News Agency Pool Photo via AP)

HARARE  – Zimbabwean leader, Emerson Mnangagwa, has had to abort a scheduled trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum meeting this week as the country’s crisis over fuel and other commodity price hikes escalate amid unconfirmed reports of disgruntlement within his own party and as armed soldiers have been deployed to residential areas.

Mnangagwa visited Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last week and was scheduled to be in Davos this week for the WEF. Zimbabwe was plunged into a crisis after a #Shutdown protest that turned violent and deadly last week while fresh demonstrations through mass stay-away from work actions s have also been called for starting today.

Armed soldiers have been patrolling Zimbabwean streets and mounting roadblocks together with police authorities. SA companies such as Pick 'n Pay, Nedbank and others were affected last week. Implants has told Business Report that its mining operations were not affected at the Mimosa and Zimplats mines.

“We have advised our employees to come to work only if it is safe to do so. We are being very cautious, especially after the disturbances of last week,” a manager with a retail chain told Business Report on Sunday.

The presence of armed soldiers on streets, although said to have been necessitated by the violent demonstrations and looting of shops by some protestors by authorities, has stoked up speculation that Mnangagwa has fallen out of favour with some powerful members inside Zanu-PF. The Zimbabwean leader replaced Robert Mugabe after a coup led by the military in November 2017.

There have been numerous reports of alleged tensions between Mnangagwa and his deputy, retired general Constantino Chiwenga. On Sunday, a Zanu-PF parliamentarian and relative to Mnangagwa, Terrence Mukupe suggested via Twitter that there is a plot to impeach Mnangagwa from within Zanu-PF.

“They threatened to kill me and harm my family. I stand by Mnangagwa and wish they knew ours isn’t just a political relationship. However they try, we will never quit nor be intimidated. The plot is foiled, they lack numbers for impeachment and the devil… ( is) amongst us,” wrote Mayor Wadyajena on Twitter early Monday.

It was not immediately clear who Wadyajena was referring to but Zimbabwe has been awash with speculation and reports that some Zanu PF officials may now be ganging up against Mnangagwa. Social media platforms such as WhatsApp - being accessed through virtual private networks - has also carrier reports of a foiled coup attempt inside Zimbabwe.
Local and international pressure piled up on Mnangagwa, prompting him to call off his trip to Davos. The United Nations and Catholic Bishops have criticized the heavy-handedness of the government in dealing with protestors while the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said over the weekend some “rogue soldiers” were behind the deadly protests that rocked the country last week.

Mnangagwa said on Sunday he was coming back home to “get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again” as a priority after a week of instability that threatened to spiral out of hand. On Monday, some schools advised parents to keep their children at home while there was apprehension over the safety of travelling to work amid a heavy presence of armed soldiers.

“In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings. We will be ably represented in Davos by Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube,” Mnangagwa said on Sunday.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE