By John Cassim
In an apparent move to consolidate power in his young administration, Zimbabwe’s president on Friday placed his new deputy, retired army commander Constantino Chiwenga, in charge of defense matters.
Chiwenga, who was sworn in as one of Emmerson Mnangagwa's two vice presidents on Thursday, led a "coup" last month which forced 93-year-old Robert Mugabe to resign.
The decision to appoint Chiwenga both vice president and defense minister put to rest fears by some that another military intervention could take place in the future, should Mnangagwa fall out of favor with the military.
The retired commander would be directly in charge of the affairs of the army as well as war veterans, who are regarded as the vanguard of the ruling ZANU PF.
The assignment is in accordance with the country's Constitution, which empowers the president to assign a ministerial portfolio to a vice president to help him carry out his duties.
Kembo Mohadi, former defense minister and now second vice president, will be in charge of national peace and reconciliation matters.
Chiwenga retired from the army on Dec. 18, in a move which paved the way for his appointment as vice president and defense minister.
Mnangagwa was sworn in as president in November after Mugabe was forced to step down from his 37-year-rule in the face of impeachment following a military takeover.
The military denied staging a coup and claimed to be acting against "criminals" around Mugabe. The army's intervention came after a succession struggle between Mnangagwa and former first lady Grace Mugabe.
While no criminal charges have been filed against Mugabe and Grace, some members of her circle have been arrested and are facing various charges, including corruption and abuse of office.
Outspoken former Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and former Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere are reported to have fled the country and are bad-mouthing Mnangagwa via Twitter.
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