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Tsvangirai Reshuffle Sees Demotion of Right Hand Man, Makone

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has made major changes in his office, reassigning officials he has been with in the trenches for a long time now as he tries to dislodge President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party from power.

This follows his controversial marriage to Elizabeth Macheka amid reports that different factions in his office had tried to push their own candidates to marry the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president for gaining political mileage.

Sources in the prime minister's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told VOA Studio 7 that Ian Makone, who has been one of Mr. Tsvangirai’s closest allies in the ‘fractured MDC’ and several other top officials, have had their duties severely curtailed with some of them being re-assigned to less demanding posts.

Makone, who was the chief of staff responsible for managing transitional initiatives and government affairs, will now only oversee government issues in the PM's office.

Legal expert Alex Magaisa, currently based at Kent University in England, is expected to take over the transitional initiatives portfolio from Makone.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s office said the changes are meant “to make division of labor more efficient.”

But Makone and his wife, Co-Home Affairs Minister Teresa Makone, allegedly led a faction that supported Mr. Tsvangirai’s estranged traditional wife Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo, who is currently engaged in a bitter legal wrangle with the prime minister following the breakdown of their marriage.

Ghandi Mudzingwa, who was the Principal Director for Transformation in the PM’s office, is said to have been moved back to the party headquarters at Harvest House where he will manage MDC campaigns.

The prime minister, according to media reports, also axed Lazarus Muriritirwa, the Principal Director for Policy Implementation and Chief Protocol officer James Maridadi.

But Muriritirwa, who is said to have introduced Mr. Tsvangirai to his latest wife - Elizabeth - and also introduced him to South African ex-lover Nosipho Shilubane denied he had been fired.

Shilubane revealed recently that she was in the process of getting engaged to Mr. Tsvangirai and had tried to stop his wedding to Macheka.

Muriritirwa also scoffed at reports of his dismissal on his Facebook page saying: “I'm really surprised to read and watch the news on ZTV and on that I have been fired from the prime minister's office.

"Nothing can be further from the truth. Keep on dreaming! For the record tomorrow (Wednesday) it will be business as usual in my office.”

Maridadi declined to comment.

The PM's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka told VOA that Mr. Tsvangirai has the right to make any changes to his team, government or party, adding an official announcement would be made soon.

“The Prime Minister reserves the right to realign, reorganize, reappoint people in his office whether in cabinet or party ... he has a right to do so,” said Tamborinyoka.

“But if what you are telling me is true, that the prime minister has indeed rearranged his office then it means we will be seeing a formal statement soon.”

Asked to comment on the links between Makone and others linked to Mr. Tsvangirai's personal relationships, Tamborinyoka said there was a "lot of malice, a lot of mischief and speculation that is now being put out."

“All that is information which is in the rumor mill and that is full of malice and prejudice. Like I’m saying there will be a formal statement very soon.”
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