(Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by ZIMDAILY EDITOR)
By Luke Tamborinyoka
Serving Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander Philip Valerio Sibanda who was controversially and unconstitutionally appointed ex-officio member of the Zanu PF politburo, is being lined up for succession.
As Zimbabweans go agog on the unconstitutionality of a serving commander being appointed into an organ of a political party, the real story is that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now practically laying the groundwork for his brother to succeed him.
Mnangagwa and Valerio Sibanda are family. They are cousins. Their fathers were blood brothers and had the same father by the name of Mapanzure.
The family uses several surnames and these include Mnangagwa, Sibanda, Shumba ( their totem ), Chibga, Murambwi (also their totem), Siphambi or Ziyambi.
Dear reader, some of those surnames explain a lot of things, including appointments into government.
Never mind their adopted Midlands credentials, the family is originally from Chivi in Masvingo province.
The plot to elevate Valerio was initially laid out some two and half years ago. Avid followers of this column will recall that this platform was the first to intimate to you, my fellow citizens, on the planned imminent elevation of Valerio Sibanda first to the Vice Presidency but all as a prelude to the grand prize.
As ED rides out his second and final stolen term, all indications are that Valerio Sibanda is being groomed to take over the mantle and to shut out fellow military strongman Constantino Dominic Nyikadzino Guvheya Chiwenga in the morbid Zanu PF succession race that will certainly reach its crescendo in 2028.
It will be a rat race, a bloody battle to the wire.
I had all this on good authority a long time ago. Ardent readers of this column will recall that this platform was the first to alert Zimbabweans on the imminent elevation of Philip Valerio Sibanda first to Vice President and eventually to leader of the party and potentially President of the country.
Two-and-half years ago, in an Easter piece on 2 April 2021 that was titled It is Finished ..… as Mnangagwa lines up cousin for Vice President , this column gave you sufficient advance notice of Mnangagwa’s sinister plot to create a dynasty, nay a family fiefdom by elevating Velero Sibanda, his cousin, first to the proximity of power before allowing him to snatch it.
In 2021, following the expiry of his renewable one year term in Match 2021, the initial idea was to make him Vice President to replace the then suspended Kembo Dugishi Campbell Mohadi The eventual grand plan was always to eventually make him President.
After his renewable one year contract ended on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, the idea was not to renew his term then but to retire P. V Sibanda and send him on a cooling off period as a civilian before his appointment into the Zanu PF presidium as Kembo Mohadi’s replacement either later that’ year in 2021 or early 2022.
And I wrote about this on 2 April 2021.
In 2021, Mnangagwa was said to have initially thought of retiring him from the military and immediately appointing him as Mohadi’s but his sidekicks reportedly told him it would be impolitic to have PV Sibanda trade his military fatigue for the party slogan in the same week. That is when he had reportedly considered pasturing out his relative for a “cooling off” period pending his political appointment to replace Mohadi late 2021 or early 2022, which eventually didn’t happen and was temporarily put in abeyance for some time.
But the succession plan with Valerio as the kingpin is now being actively pursued once again. Last week was significant in that Valerio was unconstitutionally brought into the party’s supreme decision-making body, the Politburo in spite of all the legitimate protestations.
Indeed, the Idea to bring Valerio into the succession matrix was mooted at the time when I broke the story on 2 April 2021, 48 Hours after the expiry of his renewable one year term as army general.
ED’s brother Valerio Sibanda is a former Zipra commander and Mnangagwa’s plan at the time was to kill two birds with one stone as he was always going to say he had acted in the spirit of the 1987 Unity Accord that mandated that one of the Zanu PF deputies must be a former Zapu cadre. It would seem politic for ED to appoint a former Zipra commander as Mohadi’s replacement when in fact the most important factor was that Valerio was family.
Well., Mohadi has since bounced back. But it appears the plan to bring back the brother in the party’s succession matrix is now actively and ferociously being implemented, this time in earnest, following his appointment last week into the Zanu PF politburo.
With the brazen, arrogant, provocative and patently unconstitutional appointment of P. V. Sibanda into the Politburo last week, Mnangagwa appears not to care what the world says. All he is geared for is to make this country a fiefdom of his family by laying the ground for his brother to take over and to checkmate Chiwenga.
Dear reader, I am writing this piece wearing my other hat as a journalist.
And I am reliably told that ED fancies that being a soldier who has wielded control over the country’s military, his brother is the perfect chess piece to checkmate the ambitions of fellow soldier and former ZDF commander, Rtd General Chiwenga, who now cuts a pitiful, forlorn, vulnerable, and dangerously exposed figure after his military allies died in controversial circumstances in the past three years.
With Chiwenga at his weakest, Mnangagwa has made an audacious move by bringing his brother into the succession arena, a soldier with similar military credentials to checkmate his rival. Mnangagwa probably reckons that if need be, and with his brother doubling as both a soldier and a serving politician, Valerio will be able, when the critical time comes, to bring in the military tanks to “finish the succession sports ‘.
Dear reader, given the way ED has nepotistically executed his nasty dynastic politics in the past two months, do not be shocked to wake up to the news that ED’s son in the military, Sean, is now somewhere high up in the country’s military establishment .
The signs are clear and palpable that ED is lining up his ducks for a dynasty.
Dear readers, make no mistake about it: Valerio is actively coming into Zanu PF for the long haul; for the top post The brother and soldier is ED’s chosen successor.
Given that this is his last term, ED is simply sticking up the middle finger to Zimbabweans and his colleagues in Zanu PF. He is determined to leave this country in the hands of his cousin, Philip Valerio Sibanda.
Dear reader, do not be surprised that .Mohadi may have been brought back into the fray on the condition that he will back Sibanda, his former Zipra comrade, when the crucial hour beckons!
The man is planning for a dynasty.
And with Chiwenga on standby and also fancying his chances, Mnangagwa has simply decided to line up his brother, a fellow soldier.And he may even cheekily say Zapu must not perennially play second fiddle almost 40 after the Unity Accord. He will say it is high time the Presidency went to the other party In the skewed 1987 Unity pact, knowing fully well that he is keeping it in the family. The other motive will be to freeze out Chiwenga, who literally handed him the mantle in November 2017.
But then developments seem to point to the fact that the 2017 Zanu PF civil-military coalition has irretrievably broken down. Mnangagwa is desperate to stitch it up but nepotistically, further widening the rifts inside both the party and the military establishment.
Born on 24 December 1954, Valerio Sibanda is 69 years old. When he was initially set to be retired as a prelude to higher political glory in 2021, he was 67 and was serving a one-year renewable term, which is still the current arrangement.
As ED serves out his last term, he appears to be deliberately thickening the plot in Zanu PF’s already toxic succession dynamics.
.If need be, ED seems to want the two soldiers, Valerio and Constantino, to shoot it out for the top post, either literally or metaphorically.
Zimbabweans will be watching from the sidelines, hopefully far and safe from what may turn out to be a nasty and bloody duel.
ED appears wont to torch the furnace in Zanu PF. He doesn’t care what chaos he brews as he serves out his last but stolen term.
Much like Louis XV, a French autocrat whose reign preceded the French Revolution who famously said “After me, the deluge (Apres moi le deluge’ ).
Well, I rest my case for the week!
Luke Tamborinyoka is a citizen from Domboshava. He is a journalist and a political scientist by profession. Tamborinyoka is a change champion in the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on the X handle @ luke_tambo.