via ‘Mnangagwa not yet there’ – DailyNews Live 21 January 2015
HARARE – The former confidante to President Robert Mugabe, Didymus Mutasa, has proffered his insights into Zanu PF’s thorny succession question — saying bluntly that acting president Emmerson Mnangagwa was far from being guaranteed to succeed the long-ruling nonagenarian.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the surprisingly polite and softly-spoken liberation struggle stalwart also lashed hesitant ruling party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo for communicating falsehoods regarding Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare last month.
The former Presidential Affairs minister said categorically that Zimbabweans “and not manipulation of (Zanu PF) processes” would determine who would become the ruling party’s and Zimbabwe’s next leader.
Although he said he liked Mnangagwa and that he harboured “no ill-will” towards the former Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe legislator, Mutasa described the acting president as a “sly” person, adding that the VP had been elevated to his current party position through an illegal process.
Resolute in his condemnation of the way Zanu PF had conducted its controversial congress last year, Mutasa said the party’s top hierarchy had pandered to the “whims and manipulations” of Mnangagwa and his hardline party supporters.
This had resulted in the leadership sanctioning the “irregular” dismissal of provincial chairpersons who were perceived to be sympathetic to former VP Joice Mujuru, “without following due process”.
Asked for a comment on Zanu PF’s vexing succession issue, that is ravaging the party, Mutasa said the matter would not go away on its own adding that his group was dragging the party to court only because they “love it” so much and were desperate to restore normalcy and democracy in the party.
“I have never contested proper succession. We are contesting the present succession because it is being done illegally, and that is why we are fighting.
“If they had done it properly in terms of Zanu PF’s constitution, I would have no qualms about it,” Mutasa said.
Drawing parallels with Ian Smith’s minority regime, Mutasa said events of the past few months within Zanu PF and the country generally could only result in the country “latching from one illegality to another”.
“You cannot go from one illegality to another. We had an illegal regime yaIan (Ian’s) Smith. We do not want to establish another illegal regime in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Making it clear that Mnangagwa was by no means guaranteed to succeed Mugabe, Mutasa said the people of Zimbabwe, and not manipulation of party processes, would determine who would become the country’s next leader.
“I like Amai Mujuru very much. I like people like Emmerson Mnangagwa. I like (Defence minister Sydney) Sekeramayi. I like (Health and Child Care minister David) Pariretyatwa and a lot of others.
“From Matabeleland I like (Home Affairs minister) Kembo Mohadi, (former war veterans chairperson) Jabulani Sibanda and Naison Ndlovu.
“I have worked with Sydney Sekeramayi during the liberation struggle, and in fact he was my wife’s boss. And observing his attitude to work and his honesty I have liked him very much. There is no question of liking him because of this or that, but because he is a straight forward, good man,” Mutasa said.
Asked about his views on Mnangagwa, who many say is one step away from succeeding Mugabe, he said the VP was allegedly a master when it came to covering his footsteps.
“Emmerson, I like him, in spite of the fact that he covers his own footsteps. He is very good at that. You will never find Emmerson guilty of anything because he would have covered his footsteps very well.
“But that is his character. I do not have a problem with that. That is who he is and people know it and I also know it,” he said.
Last week lickspittle State media listed Mnangagwa as one of the 12 authors of Zanu PF’s anarchy that ultimately resulted in the demise of Mujuru and her perceived sympathisers.
Mutasa said although many in the ruling party were afraid of Mnangagwa, he was not. “I am not afraid of him. I have no fear of Mnangagwa, absolutely nothing. I am the only one who tells him the truth about himself.
“And when we were in a meeting if there was anything that I wanted to say I told him in his face. I respect people but I am not afraid of anyone,” he said.
Firing back at the demoted Khaya Moyo, who is now Zanu PF’s national spokesperson, Mutasa said the former party chairperson had surrendered all his powers to Mnangagwa in the run-up to the contested December congress and thus could not dismiss his group’s bid to reverse the outcome of the congress.
“The disciplinary committee led us to this because the chairman (Khaya Moyo) was accepting everything that Mnangagwa suggested and that is criminal.
“You do not subject people to a disciplinary committee where you do not ask appropriate questions and just say because it came from Mnangagwa then it is okay,” he said.
Mutasa also threatened to sue some “stupid” Zanu PF officials who were “wrongfully and maliciously” accusing him of nepotism and corruption.
Regarding the accusations that he was a double agent during the liberation struggle, Mutasa said there was “a deliberate plot” to rewrite history and distort facts by those Mafikizolos (Johnny-come-latelies) who had hijacked the party.
“What is motivating them to say it now? Why have not they said it before? We have lived in this country for 34 years since independence and they are raising this now because I am opposed to what they are doing.
“If I had not been opposed to that they would have been quiet and I am asking them to shut up now because they are talking nonsense,” he said.
He said the allegations that he dubiously issued offer letters to people in Manicaland were very “silly” because when he was the minister of Lands, he issued offer letters to people across the country.
“What is wrong with giving farms to my relatives? Are they not citizens of this country? Why should I leave my relatives out?” he asked rhetorically.
Analysts have said that Mugabe faces possibly his biggest political challenge since he assumed the leadership of both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe, with his one-time trusted lieutenants now taking him head-on as they bid to pressure him to run the party and the country more democratically.
They also say the current pressure could see Mugabe completely losing his tight grip on Zanu PF and ultimately lead to the 90-year-old losing the leadership of the party completely.
Serving party heavyweights and liberation war pioneers who spoke to the Daily News last week said the latest “frontal attack” on Mugabe by the disaffected members sympathetic to Mujuru had “never been witnessed before” and threatened to sweep the nonagenarian out of power.
They also blamed Mugabe’s wife Grace and some Mafikizolos for “the self-inflicted mess” that now confronted Mugabe and Zanu PF.
These sentiments followed the unprecedented move by the party stalwarts, including perceived allies of Mujuru, to confront Mugabe head-on — a development analysts say is set to shake the ruling party to its core, and possibly result in the party of liberation splitting down the middle.
The party heavyweights, led by Mutasa, have bluntly called Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare late last year “null and void”.
They also, ominously, slated all the party appointments and changes that were made just before, during and after the controversial congress — pitting themselves for a titanic showdown with Mugabe, Grace and party hardliners who led the assault on Mujuru and all party officials who were perceived to be sympathetic to her.
In a statement that was provocatively signed by Mutasa in his capacity as the ruling party’s secretary for administration, “in the broad interest of democracy and in defense of the Zanu PF founding principles”, the disaffected party members called for the nullification of the entire process of “the so-called congress”, deeming it constitutionally flawed.
They also agitated for the re-instatement of “the entire constitutionally-elected office bearers of the party in all structures of all wings, as at the 1st of July 2014”.
The no-holds barred statement also called for the nullification of all “purported constitutional amendments drafted and rail-roaded immediately before this so-called congress”, as well as the restoration of the “elective dignity of congress and the one-man one-vote principle as enunciated by our armed struggle and constitution”.
The statement shook the entire Zimbabwean body politic and prompted many serving Zanu PF bigwigs to proclaim in interviews with the Daily News that they were ready to join the disaffected members in their fight to “restore Zanu PF to its former self” and end the party’s dictatorship.