The Member of Parliament for Mazowe South Fortune Chasi has not been reappointed as Energy and Power Development Minister.
The portfolio is still held by Muzarabani North legislator Zhemu Soda who took over from Chasi following his sacking by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August 2020.
Chasi was recently reappointed Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs in the ZANU PF Politburo and some of his followers on social media thought he had been reappointed Energy Minister.
Chasi, who is widely believed to have stabilised power utility ZESA when he was still Energy Minister, clarified the reappointment on Twitter. He said:
CORRECTION: I’m inundated with congratulatory messages on being REAPPOINTED ENERGY MINISTER. This is not true. I was reappointed Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs in the ZANU-PF POLITBURO. Handi ko Ku Magetsi (I’m not the Minister of Energy). Hon Soda is still the Minister.
The correct position is that I was appointed to this position in 2017 or 18. We were dissolved and after recent internal elections, I have been appointed to the same position.
Mnangagwa fired Chasi on 14 August 2022 and replaced him with Soda. A statement issued by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, announcing the changes, read:
In terms of Section 104 (1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act of 2013, His Excellency the President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed Hon Soda Zhemu Member of Parliament for Muzarabani North as Minister of Energy and Power Development in place of current Minister Honourable Fortune Chasi.
The latter has been relieved of his ministerial post as his conduct of business had become incompatible with the president’s expectations.
The appointment of Hon Zhemu and the removal of advocate Chasi is with remediate effect.
Chasi was reportedly fired for his efforts to level the playing field in the fuel sector, something which did not go down well with powerful fuel cartels that have captured the State.
A Ministry of Energy official who spoke to The Zimbabwe Independent said Chasi was fired partly because he wanted to break Sakunda’s monopolistic hold of the NOIC fuel pipeline. The official was quoted as saying:
You must understand that at NOIC, Chasi was trying to even out the playing field in the fuel sector by ensuring that Sakunda Holdings will not continue to enjoy the monopolistic utilisation of the pipeline while also trying to fully assert Noic’s control over the pipeline. Sadly, this unsettled the interests of powerful fuel cartels.
His plans to revive efforts to build a second fuel pipeline were also met with fierce resistance by the same powerful forces.
He was trying to do many things right at the same time. He could not have prevailed over the combined efforts by the ethanol blending and fuel cartels.