By Nancy Mabaya/Mary-Kate Kahari
VANCOUVER/CAPE TOWN– President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidency, is now all but hanging by a thread amid reports that the Chinese military leadership, has allegedly given the country’s military commanders the green light, to peacefully remove and replace Mnangagwa from power, with Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has exclusively been told.
Chiwenga is presently in Beijing ostensibly seeking “medical treatment” and in expected in the country soon, but details of his itinerary remain a close guarded secret.
A Chinese businessman specialising in IT here in Canada, who declined to be named, but familiar with the VP’s trip to the Asian powerhouse, said Mnangagwa was on the “verge of being shown the door”, as some top Chinese military leaders have now officially endorsed Chiwenga, to takeover with the closet support of Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, who is thought to have summoned Chiwenga through military channels “to give a debrief about the situation in Zimbabwe” a fortnight ago.
Mnangagwa is battling to save his stay in office, and announced on Wednesday at State House, that he is likely going to impose further restrictions to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus, in what critics view as an attempt by his administration to thwart planned protests by opposition and civil society organisations on 31 July.
The ruling party leader, is also being accused by the opposition, of using the Covid-19 pandemic, as a pretext to consolidate presidential powers and rule by decree using the virus, while giving it as an excuse to resist being resigned by military generals, who now want him gone for economic failure, and his family’s alleged implication in massive graft related activities, which have swindled millions of dollars from Harare’s treasury coffers.
In the clearest sign yet of the Chinese leader’s suspected support of VP Chiwenga, to takeover as Zimbabwe leader from Mnangagwa, Chiwenga reportedly received a private invitation to China from Jinping’s office last December shortly before Christmas, barely a month after returning to the country from the Asian nation again for medical treatment in November 2019.
High level sources inside the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) at the time said, the VP’s invitation was allegedly relayed to him by China’s deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhao Baogang, through foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, who met with the Chargé d’Affaires on 12 December 2019 at his Munhumutapa offices.
This publication was the first to report on 22 March 2019, that a special delegation of senior Zimbabwean military officials told Chinese generals that Mnangagwa’s political reign will expire in 2020, a few days prior to former leader President Robert Mugabe’s November 2017 coup ouster, thus potentially explaining the current dynamics at play.
Asian diplomatic sources who spoke to us last week in Pretoria, citing classified intelligence and cablegrams, said Beijing through the leadership of the nation’s Central Military Commission (CMC), has allegedly given the nod for the country’s military commanders and the vice president, himself a close ally of Li Zuocheng, a general of the People’s Liberation Army of China, currently serving as the chief of the Joint Staff Department of the CMC: “to set in motion a peaceful transition and transfer of power in Zimbabwe”.
The Central Military Commission (CMC) is the parallel national defense organization of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Republic of China: the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, a Party organ under the CPC Central Committee, and the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China, a central state organ under the National People’s Congress, being the military branch of the national government.
A CNN report in November 2017 noted that, Chiwenga, then the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, met with Gen. Li Zuocheng, who may have backed the coup against Mugabe, after General Zuocheng told the vice president that Zimbabwe and China are “all-weather friends,” according to the report. China did not publicly condemn the ousting of Mugabe from power thereafter.
General Zuocheng, is reported to be the brains behind that country’s military backing for Chiwenga to take office from Mnangagwa, and is said to have also played an important role in facilitating the VP’s medical treatment team of doctors, at the General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAGH) in Beijing, when he was terribly sick last year.
“Beijing is worried that Mnangagwa is going to lose the 2023 elections in your country if he’s allowed to stand,” said an envoy from Japan.
“Therefore we have gathered that your military commanders, alongside the first vice president have been granted a green light to ease the incumbent out as soon as possible, and that the VP himself steps in as an interim transitional leader for the remainder of the incumbent’s term in office. China is fully behind him and has a financial package in place, ready to fund the transitional government. Your VP has also been tasked to comprehensively run his 2023 successor by them. They already know him, but want certain guarantees and protection of their massive assets and investments in Zimbabwe, which are all now at risk under the current head of state, due to the appalling state of your economy and growing foreign policy differencies between China and Zimbabwe.”
Private media reports in the country, this week painted a picture, of a growing rift and turf war between Chiwenga and Mnangagwa.
“There was speculation last week that Chiwenga skipped key party and government meetings because of deep-rooted fights with Mnangagwa,” reported one independent daily.
The Chinese embassy in Harare yesterday referred us to Baogang, when we sought an official comment. The deputy ambassador’s mobile phone was out of reach by the time of sending the paper to bed.
Efforts to contact Zhao Lijian, the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department, proved fruitless last night.