The intense infighting in the ruling party Zanu-PF is putting unbearable strain on the party’s bigwigs’ health as it emerged this week that Simon Khaya-Moyo, the Minister of Policy Coordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office, is among top chefs that have been in and out of hospital, fighting hypertension-related illnesses.
Khaya-Moyo, the ruling party’s secretary for information and publicity, has not been reporting for duty for the past three months and has also been conspicuous by his absence at many government and ZANU-PF functions.
Most notably, the 71-year-old politician has been unable to attend the last four Politburo meetings, resulting in Ignatius Chombo, the party’s secretary for administration, assuming some of his responsibilities, including making important public announcements.
He has also missed important national events such as the Heroes and Defence Forces days, amid reports that he is spending much of his time in a South African hospital, although he often flies back home.
Speculation is rife that Khaya-Moyo could have succumbed to the energy-supping hard politics playing out in ZANU-PF. His political fortunes took a knock in 2014 after he was accused of being part of a faction led by Joice Mujuru, who was President Robert Mugabe’s deputy back then.
At the time, he was being linked to a vice presidential slot that had been left vacant following the death of John Nkomo in January 2013.
Khaya-Moyo only survived the chop after abandoning Mujuru and her allies, having realised that the odds were heavily stacked against the former vice president, who was being accused of plotting to unseat her boss unconstitutionally.
Despite switching allegiances ahead of the 2014 congress held in the capital city, that could not prevent his demotion from being the party’s national chairman to the position of secretary for information and publicity – seven ranks down the pecking order.
In government, he was moved to the obscure Ministry of Policy Coordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office which, despite being a mouthful, duplicates the functions of other ministries.
That in itself creates friction between the ministry and other government organs that should operate autonomously. Efforts to get a comment from Khaya-Moyo were fruitless.
Presidential spokesman, George Charamba, declined to shed light on the minister’s whereabouts, saying he would not publicly discuss someone’s health issues.
“I am not competent to talk about someone’s personal health issue,” said Charamba.
Close family sources, however, told the Financial Gazette that the former ZANU-PF national chairman has been making frequent flights to South Africa for treatment.
A family source said: “He spent about three weeks in a South African hospital last month and came back at the end of the month. He flew back to South Africa last week as his condition deteriorated. As of now, I am not sure if he is back in the country. He is battling hypertension”.
Meanwhile, former justice, legal and parliamentary affairs deputy minister, Fortune Chasi, and former home affairs deputy minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, have spent the last six days each at the same private hospital in Harare, suffering from hypertension.
The two legislators were admitted separately on Friday last week.
The Financial Gazette managed to talk to Chasi after paying him a visit on Tuesday evening, but could not get access to Ziyambi, who was admitted in the adjoining room.
“I have been here since Friday. It’s hypertension, but I am recovering now,” Chasi said.
Asked about Ziyambi, he said: “He is (in the room) next door, but we haven’t seen each other though.”
Chasi was also fingered as a member of the Mujuru cabal, and received brickbats from militant ZANU-PF youths who wanted him ousted from the party after he was accused of attempting to block First Lady, Grace Mugabe from expanding her projects in Mazowe South.
He miraculously survived the purging spree that came after the 2014 congress.
Ziyambi too has not had it easy in ZANU-PF.
He lost his position as Mashonaland West provincial chairman and his ministerial job in October last year after being accused of fanning factionalism in the party.
He was linked to Team Lacoste, a faction rooting for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over as President when the incumbent exits the political arena.
After playing an instrumental role in the demise of maverick former ZANU-PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman, Temba Mliswa, ahead of the December 2014 congress, Ziyambi assumed the chair in the interim.
The Zvimba East legislator reigned in the province for nine months before he was booted out of the position in September last year after he was handed a two-year suspension from ZANU-PF.
The following month, he was fired from government, although he retained his seat in Parliament. Several ZANU-PF officials have had their health impacted on negatively by the political twists and turns in the ruling party.
After being suspended from the party, former Harare provincial chairman, Amos Midzi, was founded dead inside his vehicle at his farm, in what appeared to have been an act of suicide.
Another victim of the purges that targeted Mujuru’s followers, Acquillina Katsande, died at the age of 55, with family members disclosing that she had been devastated by the events that changed her political fortunes in ZANU-PF for the worst.
A ZANU-PF proportional representative MP, Joan Tsogorani, also died last year after a hypertension attack following a public fall out with other party functionaries.