Mugabe appoints his chief spy as the new Justice minister

Mugabe appoints his chief spy as the new Justice minister
Published: 12 October 2017 (758 Views)
The unexpected appointment of former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general Happyton Bonyongwe to head the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry has sent tongues wagging among ordinary Zimbabweans and political analysts alike - with some claiming it is President Robert Mugabe's "smart card" to guarantee his victory in next year's eagerly-anticipated elections.

Bonyongwe, who until now has operated under the radar as Mugabe's chief spy, was on Monday appointed as the country's new Justice minister - replacing Vice  President Emmerson Mnangagwa - who has been performing the dual roles of VP and Justice guru since December 2015.

The former CIO boss holds a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe, where he also won a Book Prize as the co-best student in his stream.

During his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Bonyongwe said he was relishing the opportunity of serving in his new post.

"It is my hope that I will be able to make some positive contributions to my country. That is something that has always motivated me. I view it as a deployment by my leadership and therefore, I look at it from that context and I will go there and do my best," he said.

But with the 2018 elections looming large - amid growing infighting and divisions in the ruling Zanu-PF - analysts said yesterday that Mugabe's choice of Bonyongwe to head the ministry was telling.

"He is an able legal mind and the hope will be that he will put it to good and productive use during his tenure.

"A former soldier and spy chief in charge of justice seems ominous, not just for Mugabe's internal rivals, but also for the broader opposition movement. It (Justice ministry) is the political authority in charge of elections and will therefore have a huge influence upon Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission)," said constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa on his blog.

"It represents yet another influential hand of the security structure in elections. And who knows, he could be a dark horse in the (Zanu-PF) succession race and his transfer to the political arena should be carefully watched.

"Of the current generals, he is the one who boasted a more superior intellect although he was less known and is more discreet by virtue of his role in the spy agency," he added.

Political analyst McDonald Lewanika said Bonyongwe's appointment to the Justice ministry was not just unexpected, but could also be viewed from many other perspectives.

"Although a qualified and purported brilliant legal mind, his appointment ahead of elections suggests a takeover of the legal and electoral apparatus by the intelligence community.

"Speculation has been rife in the past that the CIO has deployed its members to occupy key positions in the Zec secretariat, and thus Bonyongwe's ascension could ensure effective and close control of this critical body ahead of elections," Lewanika told the Daily News.

"Although Bonyongwe is a retired general, this move also appears to be aimed at checking not just the Lacoste faction, but also the current military establishment which has been unequivocal in its support of the man that Bonyongwe replaces, VP Mnangagwa, whom Bonyongwe has never appeared to prefer as a principal.

"In any case, Bonyongwe's deployment does not portend any reform within the security sector, but rather entrenches the security establishment's hold over key civilian processes and the State," he added.

Mugabe has previously hinted at his plan to retire security chiefs whom he has openly accused of meddling in Zanu-PF's internal power wrangles.

In July, he told Zanu-PF supporters in his home province of Mashonaland West in Chinhoyi that "politics led the gun", suggesting that the military and other security organs were positioning their preferred candidate to succeed him - warning in the process that he could be forced to retire some security commanders.

While the security establishment is deeply loyal to Mugabe, whom they see as a steadying hand in power - amid intense jockeying over his succession at both State and party level - top commanders have also been said to be backing Mnangagwa to succeed the nonagenarian.

At the recent Chinhoyi youth interface rally, the 93-year-old also appeared to give his biggest hint yet that he planned to neutralise security chiefs by awarding them top government posts.

"We give immense respect to our defence forces. Most of those in leadership are persons we were with outside the country and we continue to respect them as revolutionaries.

"Yes, they will retire and we must find room for them in government so they don't languish . . . so they continue the struggle now . . . political struggle together with all of us in the leadership of the country, and this is what we expect to happen," Mugabe said then.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant with the International Crisis Group, said Bonyongwe's appointment appeared to be Mugabe's plan to contain Mnangagwa - more than promoting government efficiency.

"Bonyongwe is now in charge of Justice and of government business in Parliament - areas where he is something of a novice and will require significant guidance.

"And of course, we can see this is also part of the general push-back and containment of VP Mnangagwa.

"Taken together, this seems to be more about internal power politics within the ruling party than the promotion of good and efficient governance," Pigou said.

Zanu-PF is deeply-divided over Mugabe's succession.

A faction of young Turks going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), which has been locked in a vicious battle with Mnangagwa's backers, Team Lacoste, has renewed its resolve to finish off the Midlands godfather who on Monday lost significant control of key institutions when Mugabe demoted and fired ministers perceived to be loyal to him.

Relations have worsened between G40 and Team Lacoste since Mnangagwa was airlifted to South Africa after falling sick at a Zanu-PF rally in Gwanda two months ago, amid claims that he had been poisoned by his rivals in the brawling party.

Meanwhile, Mugabe has consistently batted away calls to name a successor - insisting that it is against the Zanu-PF constitution which demands its members to call for an extra-ordinary congress to choose a new leader if circumstances call for such a move.

- dailynews

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Chamisa needs to get on with the program now

by Charles Motsi | 23 September 2018 | 212 Views

The Church as seen by a Young Layman: Unmasking the darker side of modernity in Christianity

by Brian Maregedze and Tedious Ncube | 23 September 2018 | 103 Views

UNGA, an opportunity to tell the Zimbabwean story

by Tafara Shumba | 23 September 2018 | 82 Views

Zimbabweans in diaspora ready to build country

by Nobleman Runyanga | 23 September 2018 | 114 Views

Inter Africa bus in fatal head on collision

by Simbarashe Sithole | 23 September 2018 | 192 Views

Remembering Sidney Malunga

by Siphosami Malunga | 23 September 2018 | 143 Views

MDC Alliance council's grand corruption, shady deals exposed

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 160 Views

Chigumba lashes out at 'sore losers'

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 105 Views

Chiwenga launches African Dream boat

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 162 Views

Rogue cops run amok in Harare

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 165 Views

American investors express massive interest in Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 119 Views

Prison boss willing to consider inmates conjugal visits

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 93 Views

Zanu-PF, Mines ministry officials grab gold mine

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 89 Views

Obert Mpofu denies growing rich off govt corruption

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 92 Views

Mnangagwa will not follow Mugabe's ways

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 96 Views

Extreme greed among MDC Alliance, Zanu-PF MPs shocking

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 92 Views

Chiwenga ordered army to be in the streets of Harare - Hwende

by Simbarashe Sithole | 23 September 2018 | 195 Views

Man bashes wife over cellphone

by Simbarashe Sithole | 23 September 2018 | 85 Views

ED set to address UNGA 2018

by Ashely Kondo | 23 September 2018 | 75 Views

Schools competition postponed due to cholera

by Stephen Jakes | 23 September 2018 | 77 Views

Mnangagwa lies about Gukurahundi commission, says Mathuthu

by Stephen Jakes | 23 September 2018 | 116 Views

Mnangagwa's message to Uncle Sam

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 103 Views

Its time to build Zimbabwe - Makamba

by Stephen Jakes | 23 September 2018 | 101 Views

Zimbabweans should brace for belt-tightening

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 91 Views

Mnangagwa needs the best brains Zimbabwe can produce

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 83 Views

Boost for Zimbabwe industry

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 78 Views

Crocodile Gang: 'Last man standing'

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 83 Views

ED explains to the world he is his own man

by Nobleman Runyanga | 23 September 2018 | 75 Views

Zanu-PF has stabilised

by Dr Obert Mpofu | 23 September 2018 | 76 Views

GMB boss arrested over $1m

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 86 Views

Govt moves into bulk fuel imports

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 61 Views

Mnangagwa's game-changing appointments

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 66 Views

New rules for Zimsec exams

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 69 Views

Zimbabwe roadblocks to continue

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 64 Views

Council bank for Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 62 Views

Foreign Bulawayo mayor calls on councillors and residents to unite

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 51 Views

'Production costs push price of bread up'

by Staff reporter | 23 September 2018 | 52 Views