In a dramatic turn of events, General Constantino Chiwenga, once the powerful king-maker of Zimbabwean politics, now finds himself at the mercy of his former ally, President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This political saga has unfolded over the course of a few tumultuous years, reshaping the landscape of Zimbabwean leadership and power dynamics.

Chiwenga’s journey from the heights of influence to political vulnerability began in November 2017 when he played a pivotal role in the ousting of then-President Robert Mugabe. Following the coup, Chiwenga held multiple key positions, including Vice-President, Minister of Defence, and Minister of War Veterans. At that time, he seemed to be in control of the levers of state power.

However, a series of unexpected events began to erode Chiwenga’s influence. His health deteriorated amid suspicions of poisoning, and many of his military allies who aided Mnangagwa’s rise to power faced ruthless purges. The once-mighty coup coalition that united them crumbled as Mnangagwa consolidated his authority.

Chiwenga’s personal life also became embroiled in controversy, with revelations from his divorce proceedings suggesting a plot against his life. These revelations added further complexity to the already tense relationship between him and Mnangagwa.

One significant turning point was the Bulawayo White City incident in June 2018, believed to be an attempted assassination of Mnangagwa by rival factions within the government. This event poisoned relations between the two leaders, setting the stage for future clashes.

Mnangagwa had initially promised to serve only one term and allow Chiwenga to take over in 2023, as part of the coup’s alleged agreement. However, Mnangagwa reneged on this promise, sparking a new power struggle. The recent cabinet reshuffle underscored this power struggle, as Chiwenga was further marginalized, losing his position as Health Minister and retaining only a ceremonial role as Vice-President.

The amendment of the constitution by Mnangagwa to prevent the implementation of the clause on running mates was a strategic move to frustrate Chiwenga’s aspirations for real political power. This left Chiwenga with appointed positions within the ruling party, Zanu PF, and the government, rendering him institutionally weak and politically vulnerable.

The current political landscape in Zimbabwe paints a stark picture for General Chiwenga. His once-formidable grip on power has slipped away, and his uneasy alliance with Mnangagwa shows no signs of reconciliation. Mnangagwa’s reliance on a new clandestine security apparatus rather than the military for his re-election further weakened Chiwenga’s position.

In the ongoing power struggle, Chiwenga faces an uphill battle to regain his former prominence. While it may not be an impossible mission, it is undoubtedly a Herculean task. As the drama of the November 2017 coup continues to unfold, the General finds himself on the losing end of a complex and evolving political chess game, where the stakes are higher than ever before.

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