Serious disagreements emerged within the government of President Mnangagwa immediately after the election observer missions' interim statements in Harare this week.

Vice President Chiwenga reads the observer mission statements, especially the European and other Western powers utterances, as indication that there is not going to be any difference in the approach of the West to the newly elected government of Emmerson Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa, on the other hand, is of the view that whatever criticisms are leveled at the country, its institutions and this election must be accepted as good faith criticism that should be incorporated into reforming key areas of the country that can make Zimbabwe a strong democracy.

"Your strategy has failed," VP Chiwenga, we are reliably told, said to President Mnangagwa on Thursday this week. "It has failed. We open up more, allowing anyone to do what they want, Zimbabweans will think this is a sign of weakness on the part of government. They will never accept you. They can pretend, but they will do this only so that it becomes easier to destroy you. We can't allow that, we can't allow that."

It is also dawning on insiders within the Mnangagwa government that VP Chiwenga's demand that the Defense Ministry be housed under him (the vice-president is also the minister of defense) and that he chairs the security cluster may actually not be helpful, but a complication.

Mnangagwa agreed to Chiwenga's demands to control the security infrastructure because the then General insisted to the President that there was still a threat to the Mnangagwa government from embedded remnants of the old order, including G40 who could move to overthrow the new government.

The agreement reached means that Chiwenga is still effectively the Commander of Defense Forces in Zimbabwe, even though he is nominally retired and now a vice-president and a Minister of Defense.

Chiwenga's disagreement with Mnangagwa's policy of complete openess and continued pushing back of the boundaries of people's freedoms is based on what he sees as the agitation that Nelson Chamisa is engaged in. "He is abusing the free environment, akajaidzwa anotoenderera." Chiwenga is convinced that the West wants to hoodwink ZANU PF and the government into thinking that they are now more receptive to the Mnangagwa government just so they can undermine the ZANU PF government by encouraging Mnangagwa's continued opening up of political space in the country while at the same time whispering encouragements to Nelson Chamisa to unleash havoc, violence and disruption of government all over the country.

The taking off the gloves, which happened earlier this week, was also informed by this thinking that there is no change from the West in how it will be relating to ZANU PF, so the hardliners in government are of the view that ZANU PF should also not change the way it has been relating all along to western powers.

It is an increasingly dangerous situation at the moment in government, which the internationally community will need to address sooner rather than later.

Simply put, the country is at a stage now where only the international community can help strengthen Mnangagwa's hand. failure to do this will almost certainly reverse all of the gains towards democracy that this country had gained under Mnangagwa so far.

There is a ZANU PF faction that is now determined to retreat back into its shell, to fence itself off from the Western powers and rely once again, on looking east.

Without showing any signs that his diplomatic efforts and policies are working, Mnangagwa will have no option whatsoever but to fall in line with the hardliners in the government.


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