President Robert Mugabe "went ballistic" on Saturday when he found out Morgan Tsvangirai and Emmerson Mnangagwa have secretly met up to six times since the MDC leader became Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is said to have met with the ZANU PF heavyweight, who has been confirmed already by Mugabe as his preferred choice for President, in Harare and at a farm in the Kwekwe area.
Mugabe, told Saturday in a briefing about the meetings, is reported to have threatened to send the Minister of Defence back into the "wilderness" (gwenga, was the Shona word Mugabe used, apparently).
Although not immediately clear whether Mugabe was told what the mettings were about, he immediately saw this as a threat to his continued grip on power. Mugabe, although he has told Mnangagwa that he will most certainly now take over as head of ZANU PF and eventually President of Zimbabwe, likes things done his way.
He believes Mnagagwa and Tsvangirai may be planning to sideline him, now that Mnangagwa is confident of taking over within ZANU PF.
I have previously told you about Mnangagwa's statements to ZANU PF colleagues, where he half-jokingly said he would not mind having Tsvangirai as his Prime Minister when he takes over the presidency of Zimbabwe.
It is quite likely that the Prime Minister is trying to negotiate for the future, perhaps to cement his position within the corridors of power. It is highly unlikely that the two could be discussing a situation in which Tsvangirai would try to accomodate Mnangagwa in a future Tsvangirai presidency.
This is because Mnangagwa's burning, fierce ambition for the Presidency means he is unlikely to ever contemplate playing second fiddle to Tsvangirai.
I just got this news today, so I will try and dig up some more to find out just what sort of deal these two men are trying to strike.
It may well be all in vain, however, if Mugabe's mood today is anything to go by. What it means is that Mnangagwa has not reported on these meetings to Mugabe, which makes the dictator extremely suspicious.
As for Tsvangirai, I think he is aware that he is playing with fire. The last time Mnangagwa was suspected of plotting against Mugabe was when Prof. Jonathan Moyo arranged that meeting in Tsholotsho, at which support was being drummed up for Mnangagwa to take the vice-presidency now occupied by Joice Mujuru.
Mugabe swiftly demoted Mnangagwa, relegating him to the Ministry of Rural Housing and Social Amenities. He was, effectively, "put in the dog house", as he himself recognised.
He only bounced back in February as Minister of Defence in the Inclusive Government, a very high accolade indeed to the presumptive heir. He is trusted, and that is the message Mugabe sought to send, grateful that The Crocodile had not sought to capitalise on Simba Makoni's defection from the party.
Now, however, the Minister of Defence could again very quickly find himself relegated back to the wilderness if Mugabe believes what he was told today. It already appears that he does indeed credit the reports.
When his power is "threatened" directly like this, Mugabe is very predictable. Action will be swift, ruthless. I dare say, on account of this, he would indeed be willing to let the government fall to pieces, if it were to come to that.
Or perhaps there is a good enough explanation that he will get from Mnangagwa and all this will simply be a storm in a tea-cup?