Mnangagwa fires outspoken Deputy Information Minister

FILE: Energy Mutodi, Zimbabwe deputy information minister speaks about his opposition to the planned quarry mining project in Domboshava area on May 6, 2019.
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HARARE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi.

In a statement, Cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said, “The termination, which is with immediate effect, is in terms of section 108(1a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No 20) of 2013.”

Section 108(1a) stipulates that the office of a minister or deputy minister becomes vacant if the president removes him or her from office. Sections 106 and 107 of the Constitution further stipulate that “a minister or deputy minister may not act in any way that is inconsistent with their office, or expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests.

“… Subject to this Constitution, every vice-president, minister and deputy minister is accountable, collectively and individually, to the president for the performance of his or her functions.”

No reasons were given for the termination of the contract. Mutodi was not reachable for comment as he was not responding to calls on his mobile phone.

In a tweet Wednesday, Information Secretary Nick Mangwana confirmed the sacking of the deputy information minister, saying a letter written by Sibanda, circulating on social media, was an authentic government document.

Mutodi recently clashed with Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa claiming that she was abusing state-controlled media.

Mutodi further claimed recently that his life was in danger. In a tweet, he said, “Living in fear of the Chris Mutsvangwa-SB Moyo coalition. I hope it won’t resort to wartime tactics. Appealing for prayers.”

Mutsvangwa is a close associate of the president and Sibusiso Moyo is the minister of foreign affairs, who announced on state television in 2017 the military intervention that led to the removal of the late president Robert Mugabe from power.

It’s not yet clear how Mutodi clashed with Mutsvangwas and Moyo, one of the chief architects of the military intervention.

Mutodi, who has over the past year clashed with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, recently claimed that Harare West lawmaker Joanna Mamombe and her MDC colleagues Cecilia Chimbiri and Nestai Marova, who went missing last Wednesday and found brutalized a few days later in a rural growth point, were faking abduction.

The three were seized by unknown assailants at a roadblock in Harare while attending a public protest over food shortages and other issues.

Police initially indicated that they had arrested some protesters and took them to Harare Central Police Station. They changed their story when the women’s lawyers failed to locate them at the police station.

Mutodi claimed in a tweet that the three were faking abductions.

“Number of fake abductees is increasing with Joana Mamombe joining the list. Meanwhile, MDC MPs have ditched embattled leader Nelson Chamisa en masse, asking him to join the Extra-Ordinary Congress proceedings in order to resolve his illegitimacy.”

Mutodi in 2017 once appeared in a photo that went viral, which showed him and Mnangagwa posing with a hug mug emblazoned with the words ‘I am the boss’ in what some people in the ruling party claimed were clear indications by the then vice president that he wanted to succeed Mugabe.

But Mnangagwa dismissed such suggestions and declared that he was loyal to Mugabe. He was fired a few months later by Mugabe, but toppled him with the assistance of the military in November 2017.