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JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Minister, Fortune Chasi, whose political career had been shaken long before the wholesale purges in the ruling ZANU-PF started appears to have survived the chop after President Robert Mugabe sacked seven ministers last week but retained him. Chasi had appeared to be on his way out after he crossed the First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s path by attempting to block her acquisition of more land in the fertile Mazowe valley of Mashonaland Central province for her intended projects.

Addressing party youths in Mazowe early August, the First Lady warned those who were undermining her projects that they were “playing with fire”. She told the jubilant youths that Chasi, who is the Member of Parliament for Mazowe South, was frustrating her intentions to take over Manzou Game Park, where she wanted to build a secondary school, hospital and a university to generate income to support the orphans she looks after at her children’s home.

Anti-Chasi slogans were to dominate a ZANU-PF Youth League conference held a week after the First Lady’s address. The youth wing had proceeded to pass a resolution asking President Mugabe to sack Chasi from office. Edson Chakanyuka, the then ZANU-PF deputy secretary for youth affairs, said at the time that the league had officially written to the President saying Chasi had to be fired for disrespecting the First Family.

Chasi’s fate appeared sealed when sources told the Financial Gazette later that month that the junior minister could be sacked for attending musician Thomas Mapfumo’s concert in South Africa without official leave. “There is nothing personal when you are in government. The assumption is that you are a government official wherever you are,” Charamba said then of Chasi taking time off to attend an alleged personal whim. It is a requirement for government. The President has to grant you authority, to give you his consent. Besides the approval, this is also necessary in terms of risks inherent in travel allowances, among other things.”

But Chasi, despite all this, largely remained quiet and on Tuesday, the soft spoken deputy minister said he never felt his job was under threat. “I was not aware that I was under threat at all. It was really a perception the media had but at no time did I ever feel that I was threatened nor was I distracted from my mandate. I became even more focused on the tasks that I am mandated to carry out,” Chasi said in an interview with the Financial Gazette.

“If at all I was under threat, I would naturally be delighted to have escaped the chop but when one gets into this type of job, they should always understand that their superiors may either reassign or recall them from their jobs and this should not cause one to worry,” he said when asked how he felt to have escaped the axe. It’s a great opportunity to be allowed to continue to serve my country in this capacity and I will do my best,” he added.

Sources told the Financial Gazette that Chasi’s job was saved by newly appointed Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who now doubles up as Justice Minister on grounds that he is very hard -working and an asset to the ministry. Chasi, however, said he was not aware of any particular intervention from his superior but acknowledged that it was possible that his boss played a role.

“I enjoy an excellent cordial working relationship with Honourable Mnangagwa and I cannot ask for a better boss. I am not specifically aware of any interventions the he made but I am certain that if that was necessary, he would do whatever it takes for his little boy to continue to work,” Chasi said.

Expectations are that with Mnangagwa now elevated to the Vice Presidency, Chasi would have to do more ministerial work, a situation which he gladly accepts. “I am very much conscious of the perking order. I am still deputy minister with a privilege of reporting to such a seasoned lawyer and Vice President. I am extremely motivated that with his esteemed new position, I could give him increased help to ensure that the ministry delivers what it is supposed to deliver,” he said.

Source : Financial Gazette