FORMER Deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi was axed after Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Busi Moyo (pictured) confronted President Emmerson Mnangagwa and threatened to resign from the government unless he fired the flambouyant youthful legislator shortly before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday last week, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
ANDREW KUNAMBURA/EVERSON MUSHAVA
This followed a nasty public spat between Moyo and Mutodi which, sources said, underlined the disorder in Mnangagwa’s shaky administration as well as the ruling Zanu PF party.
Many believe that the final nail in Mutodi’s political coffin was a statement he posted on Twitter denigrating three MDC-Alliance youth leaders — Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova — following their abduction, torture and sexual assault by alleged state security agents.
The three opposition leaders were remanded to their hospital beds under police guard this week.
In his tweet, Mutodi suggested that the trio’s woes emanated from a night excursion with their lovers which went wrong.
“Details emerge of MDC youths Joanna Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri (that they) went out for a romantic night to Bindura with their lovers who are artisanal miners.
“They parked their car at a police station for safety, but tragedy struck when they demanded foreign currency for their services,” Mutodi wrote, sparking outrage from Twitter users.
A fortnight ago, Moyo and Mutodi traded vitriol, with the belligerent Goromonzi West legislator delivering stinging criticism of the former military strongman.
Mutodi told Moyo to stop masquerading as a super minister and said he should remain in his lane and stop interfering with his line of duty.
This was after Moyo — who announced the November 2017 military coup which toppled Robert Mugabe — took matters into his own hands and sharply rebuked Mutodi for making disparaging remarks about Tanzanian President John Magufuli for his much-criticised handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on Twitter.
In a statement read live on the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s main television news bulletin, Moyo said the government was distancing itself from the statements made by Mutodi, noting that they were his personal views which did not reflect the official position.
Mutodi did not take Moyo’s rebuke lightly, penning a two-page letter in which he lashed out at Moyo, accusing him of behaving like a prime minister when the country’s constitution does not provide for such a position.
He reminded Moyo in no uncertain terms that he was in charge of the Foreign Affairs portfolio, not the Ministry of Information and Publicity.
Mnangagwa had however remained mum on the developments until a statement by permanent secretary for presidential communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet Regis Chikowore notifying the nation of Mutodi’s dismissal.
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Chikowore’s statement came soon after the cabinet meeting.
Official sources said Mutodi was actually fired at Moyo’s behest.
They also said the decision underscored the delicate factional interplay obtaining in Zanu PF as Mutodi is believed to be rooting for a camp aligned to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Chiwenga was recently exposed in court by his estranged wife, Marry Mubaiwa, as harbouring presidential ambitions. He reportedly leads a faction in Zanu PF which is opposed to Mnangagwa.
Although Moyo was on Chiwenga’s side during the coup, he jumped ship and joined Mnangagwa’s camp.
“There is a reconfiguration of factions going on in the party and Mutodi was seen as pushing Chiwenga’s agenda. Moyo is firmly in Mnangagwa’s camp and so when Mutodi attacked him, he probably didn’t realise he was attacking the nerve centre of power,” a source said.
“So Moyo, just before the cabinet meeting last week, sought audience with the President and expressed his reservations about the continued presence of Mutodi in government.
“He indicated that if Mutodi was to remain in government, then he would have to resign himself in protest. So basically that decision was purely factional, given Moyo’s significance in the scheme of things going forward.”
Mutodi was also in bad books with Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa and the ministry’s permanent secretary Nick Mangwana.
“Even prior to the public spat with Moyo, the spotlight was already on Mutodi.”
Moyo could not be reached for comment as he was not answering calls on his mobile phone, while Mutodi was unreachable on his mobile numbers.