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Zanu-PF prepares for conference, meets with Mnangagwa

It's understood the gathering will officially endorse the recalling of former president Robert Mugabe and the installation of Mnangagwa as party president.

FILE: Zimbabwean new interim President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) gives an address after he is officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on 24 November 2017. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's president Emmerson Mnangagwa has met with Zanu-PF leaders in the run up to the party's conference this week.

It's understood the gathering will officially endorse the recalling of former President Robert Mugabe and the installation of Mnangagwa as party president.

The congress will also deal with issues that came out during a special central committee last month where Mugabe was recalled.

Zanu-PF has announced that Mnangagwa will be the party's preferred candidate in the 2018 elections.

Last week, Mnangagwa swore in his cabinet, with allies defending him against criticism for giving top posts to the generals who helped his rise to power.

Mnangagwa has also come under fire for bringing back several faces from the Mugabe era, including Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister.

Air Marshall Perrance Shiri, who was handed the sensitive land portfolio, defended his appointment in remarks to reporters after a simple ceremony to take oaths of office.

Shiri is feared and loathed by many Zimbabweans as the former commander of the North Korean-trained ‘5 Brigade’ that played a central role in ethnic massacres in Matabeleland in 1983 in which an estimated 20,000 people were killed.

Land is a central political issue in the southern African country, where reforms in the early 2000s led to the violent seizure of thousands of white-owned farms and hastened an economic collapse.

Another military figure is foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo, whom most Zimbabweans remember as the khaki-clad general who went on state television in the early hours of 15 November to announce the military takeover.

Mnangawa, however, dropped his initial pick as education minister, 24 hours after appointing him, after a public outcry and reshuffled two others to meet a constitutional requirement that all but five ministers be Members of Parliament.

This has left the information portfolio vacant after he named Chris Mutsvangwa, the influential leader of the war veterans’ association, as special advisor to the president.

Mutsvangwa has defended the cabinet, which at 22 is smaller than Mugabe’s 33-strong team, saying the two military appointments were not unique to Zimbabwe.

He also said Mnangagwa had “engaged” the opposition MDC party about taking part in an “inclusive” government, but its leader Morgan Tsvangirai had blocked it, a claim disputed by the MDC.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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