via ‘It’s now or never folks’ – DailyNews Live Fungi Kwaramba, CHIEF WRITER • 1 December 2015
HARARE – With President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF teetering on the brink of a complete implosion due to its seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, the People First movement says there has never been a better time for Zimbabweans to push for their “total independence”.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, former Presidential Affairs minister and People First stalwart Didymus Mutasa also said none but Zimbabweans themselves could improve their worsening lot and “foster their total freedom”.
The soft-spoken former close confidante of Mugabe also warned the warring post-congress Zanu PF to brace itself for “the mother of all fights” when the country goes for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, saying People First was “close” to launching formally.
And speaking as a former ruling party bigwig who knows its workings and dynamics intimately, he said embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was in real danger of suffering the same fate as former Vice President Joice Mujuru — who was expelled from the ranks of the former liberation movement late last year on untested allegations of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe.
“The post-congress Zanu PF didn’t think things through when it decided to expel us from the party. They thought that we would go back there begging for mercy, but Mai Mujuru, Mutasa, VaGumbo (Rugare) and Jabulani Sibanda didn’t do that. We are taking the fight to them.
“We, together with many other Zimbabweans were part of the struggle, and we did not participate in that struggle to be misgoverned but for democracy to take root in the country.
“That is what we are fighting for now. We want democracy and we want to see our country fully liberated,” Mutasa said, adding that the post-congress Zanu PF was at its weakest point due to its deadly infighting.
Mugabe’s warring party split into two bitterly-opposed formations at the end of last year, at the height of its internal ructions, with its purged liberation struggle stalwarts moving to initiate the re-establishment of the “original” Zanu PF — which uses the slogan People First.
And even though the party is still to be officially launched, panicking post-congress Zanu PF officials have gone into overdrive bad-mouthing both the movement and its presumptive leader Mujuru — with First Lady Grace Mugabe recently telling her supporters that the movement was targeting teenagers as young as 15, allegedly enticing them with cell-phones, so that come 2018 they would vote People First into office.
Asked by the Daily News to comment on these claims, Mutasa said “she has to prove her allegations and name the persons distributing those cell phones, otherwise it’s not even worth talking about”.
He also confirmed that People First now had a draft constitution that would soon be distributed to structures around the country for the consideration of its supporters, adding that “the time has come to take Zanu PF head-on”.
“The post-congress Zanu PF is consumed by its vicious factional and succession wars and the economy is in freefall as Cabinet ministers commit themselves more to party business rather than bread and butter issues.
“If ever there was a time for Zimbabweans to take them on, it is now,” Mutasa said, adding that it was a matter of time before the ruling party was turfed out of power.
Mutasa spoke as the mindless bloodletting in the ruling party is getting worse, amid heightened efforts by Mnangagwa’s enemies to “checkmate” the embattled VP.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News said so explosive was Zanu PF’s politburo meeting last week that a female Cabinet minister and perceived staunch Mnangagwa ally had allegedly wept uncontrollably amid fierce factional fighting — and as a stunned Mugabe apparently watched the farce in stony silence.
One of the sources said after the politburo endorsed the suspension and expulsion of many supporters of the VP, more senior party officials loyal to Mnangagwa were set to face the chop in the next few months, as the post-congress Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
Mnangagwa is said to have not personally attempted to either oppose or stop last Wednesday’s suspensions and expulsions during the politburo meeting, appearing instead to “look up to president Mugabe for direction and help, but Gushungo (Mugabe) never said a thing”.
Among the officials who were either expelled or suspended on various allegations, including those related to fanning factionalism, included former Manicaland women’s league boss Happiness Nyakuedzwa and former Mashonaland Central youth league chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu.
In addition, former Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, former Harare women’s league chairperson Ratidzo Mukararati, and former Masvingo chairperson Paradzai Chakona, all had their votes of no confidence upheld.
Another source claimed that there had also been “a fierce row” between Grace and Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, which had allegedly left the latter battered and in tears.
“Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa camp) received a mighty beating in the meeting. People like (political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere and (deputy youth league secretary Kudzanai) Chipanga vigorously lobbied for the ouster of Mnangagwa’s supporters, especially in Manicaland where the vote of no confidence on Nyakuedzwa was upheld,” a politburo member who claimed to be “non-aligned” said.
Muchinguri-Kashiri — who is allegedly aligned to Mnangagwa and has recently been locked in a vicious power struggle with Grace’s supporters in Manicaland — is said to have started the fight with the first lady whom she accused of fuelling infighting in the troubled province.
Muchinguri-Kashiri, according to insiders, allegedly told Grace that she was the most senior party official in the province and thus always needed to be consulted on important decisions impacting on the region — apparently further insinuating that Grace had so far failed to run the women’s league properly.
“This angered Amai (Grace) and as she spoke, she got angrier and angrier, saying ‘wakabvira kare uchindijairira … (You have never respected me)” — apparently going on to give Muchinguri-Kashiri a severe tongue-lashing which resulted in the Water minister crying.
Ironically, the two women were buddies only last year when they worked together to oust Mujuru from power. In addition, Muchinguri-Kashiri relinquished her post as women’s league secretary to make way for Grace.
Mugabe is said to have avoided joining the bust-up, only speaking much later when he appeared to admonish both Muchinguri-Kashiri and War veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa for often flaunting their liberation war credentials to get special treatment in the party.
“The president acknowledged the important role the war veterans had played, and continued to play, but warned that their continued deification could divide Zanu PF,” another source said.