Former Zanu PF national political commissar Rtd Lt-Gen Engelbert Rugeje remains out in the political cold awaiting reassignment after President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently stripped him of his position which he then gave to Victor Matemadanda,
Rugeje, whose run as the national political commissar was marred by disputes after he presided over Zanu PF’s chaotic primary elections in the build up to the 2018 harmonised elections, was demoted in May this year and replaced by the garrulous Matemadanda.
In what many viewed as a well-calculated political move designed to keep his former military allies in check President Mnangagwa said he would reassign Rugeje but nothing has happened as yet.
Zanu PF national secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana told a recent Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) that Rugeje was not demoted, claiming as a politburo member, he still retained a lot of power.
“I want to make it clear that President Mnangagwa has other plans for Cde Rugeje. We do not know his next assignment but for the benefit of everyone, Rugeje is still our politburo member.
“The President just replaced him with Victor Matemadanda but that does not mean he was knocked out,” said Mangwana in a desperate attempt to appease the former army general who cut a forlorn presence in the meeting.
It is not clear whether Rugeje will soldier on as just a politburo member without a portfolio of his own.
Under Rugeje, Mnangagwa only scraped through to the presidency, winning with a hotly-disputed, wafer-thin margin of 0.6 percent to avoid a run-off against MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
This poor performance brought Rugeje under immense criticism, with many prominent party members like Chris Mutsvangwa openly attacking Rugeje and labeling him a political novice.
There have been rumours that President Mnangagwa planned to appoint Rugeje Vice Chancellor of the Zimbabwe Defence College.