BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZANU PF has disowned its member, Sybeth Musengezi, who recently filed a High Court application, challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as leader of the party and country.
Last week, Musengezi approached the Bulawayo High Court seeking the nullification of the November 19, 2017 special session of the Zanu PF central committee meeting which elected Mnangagwa to replace the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Through his lawyer, Nqobani Sithole, Musengezi cited Zanu PF as the first respondent and Mnangagwa as the second, while other respondents are party secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa, former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo.
Zanu PF director of information and publicity Tafadzwa Mugwadi yesterday said Musengezi was not a Zanu PF member, warning him to “chew what he was capable of swallowing”.
“The official Zanu PF position on Musengezi is that the character in question is not a member of Zanu PF,” Mugwadi said.
“As such, the party does not take cognisance of whatever he is up to. However, we are alert to how his actions are aimed at tarnishing the image of the party and the sooner he realises the legal consequences of such actions, the better for him and those behind his actions. He must be advised to chew that which he is capable of swallowing.”
But Musengezi dismissed attempts by Zanu PF to disown him, saying he has locus standi to sue the ruling party, Mnangagwa and other senior party officials.
In his court application, he said he had been a member of the ruling party for over 20 years, adding that he was a youth league member under Mugabe’s leadership in Harare province, and held party card number 1515786.
He said he renewed his Zanu PF party membership following the 2017 power transition at Mai Chitepo branch in Muzinda 1 party district in Harare province under card number 0131988.
Musengezi also participated in the Zanu PF primary elections for Harare North constituency ahead of the 2018 elections and lost to the MDC Alliance’s Allan Markham in the elections.
“Who is Mugwadi to discredit my membership when he doesn’t even have five years in the party? Although I lost, I was a Zanu PF primary election candidate for Harare North constituency ahead of the 2018 general elections.”
He told South African broadcaster SABC on Saturday that he was not fighting for the removal of Mnangagwa, but he wanted the party to follow the dictates of its constitution on appointment of its leaders.
He said he received overwhelming support from some Zanu PF members close to Mnangagwa for filing the application.
Legal expert Alex Magaisa said Musengezi’s application exposed an internal power struggle in Zanu PF which clearly showed that he had backing from an authority within the party.
“We were not far off at the BSR (Big Saturday Read) when we suggested there are several signs of trouble in the house (of) Mnangagwa. Musengezi is a smart, articulate and well-prepared chap. He has done his homework. But he is not a lone wolf. He is a well-trained proverbial tortoise, but not even the smartest tortoise can climb to the top of the fence post on its own.
“Someone helps it to get up there. An application like this would have taken several meetings of well-organised people to plan and execute. Other tortoises usually lend their name to an application and remain in the background. They have no voice, even when they are challenging individuals without State power. It’s more than bravery for Musengezi to take up such a public platform as the SABC,” Magaisa said.