By Tinashe Kairiza and Nyasha Chingono
The explosive audio leak between First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and 1 Presidential Guard Infantry Battalion commander Samson Murombo brings to light the escalating brinkmanship between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga to effectively control the country’s security apparatus.
In the leaked audio recording, Auxillia accused Murombo of spying on her while plotting to topple the President through a millitary putsch.
Since the November 2017 millitary coup, which dramatically toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, who was the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) at the time, have been using the millitary and other security sector instruments to checkmate each other.
The salacious audio recording is understood in the context of the bombing incident in Bulawayo in June 2018. A suspected grenade detonated during a Zanu PF rally at White City Stadium when Mnangagwa was leaving the stage while other dignitaries including Chiwenga looked on.
Since the November 2017 coup, there has been heightening disquiet within the military due to deteriorating working conditions and poor salaries which have been eroded by spiralling inflation currently standing at 176% and unfulfilled promises after Mugabe’s fall.
On average, low-ranking soldiers are earning ZW$600, which was the equivalent of US$60 in November 2017.
As revealed by the Zimbabwe Independent in February, disgruntlement has been swelling within the rank and file of the military due to worsening conditions of service.
Millitary sources say even high ranking army officers are becoming restive and disillusioned, partly because of the unrelenting economic crisis.