ZIMBABWE – HARARE – Respected Zanu PF elder Cephas Msipa, who has been one of the few consistent voices of reason in the warring ruling party, has told the Daily News that his old friend is feeling lonely and nostalgic about the “good old days”.
Msipa met Mugabe in Gweru at the weekend, at the official handover of the Gushungo house that was donated to the increasingly-frail nonagenarian by a local businesswoman.
Addressing the gathered crowds, Mugabe heaped praise on the former senior politburo member and Midlands resident minister, whom he addressed as “sekuru Madyirapanze”.
“Ndinonzwa kuti sekuru vaMsipa vakashandawo zvikuru kuti chiitiko chatauyira nhasi chibudirire. Ndinovatenda zvikuru nebasa ravakaita (I heard that my uncle Msipa also worked very hard for the success of this project. I want to thank him for the job well done),” Mugabe said.
The sense of respect and camaraderie between the two senior citizens was self-evident throughout the handover ceremony despite the fact that Msipa has often been one of the fiercest critics of the president, the post-congress Zanu PF and the country’s deepening political and economic crises.
“We had time to tour the gallery together and he thanked warmly. He was happy to see me and we had a very nice time.
“He was reminded of our old days. He was really happy to be with me and so was I as we spoke about the old days,” Msipa said.
Speaking in recent interviews with the Daily News, Msipa said his long-time friend was in desperate need of help from across the political divide if he was to successfully extricate the country from its current myriad challenges.
The former Midlands provincial affairs minister also said the ruling party had done little to uplift the lives of poverty stricken Zimbabweans since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.
“I want to see people happy in the country. But I see there is fear, fear to speak and yet that is why we went to war to attain freedom. Many people suffered for this country so that we can be happy, but where is the happiness?” he asked.
At the time, Msipa also bluntly warned Mugabe that his failure to unmask and stop the party’s real factionalists would result in the former liberation movement splitting into several opposing camps.
Still, Mugabe looked very happy to meet his old friend on Saturday and the two spent about ten minutes chatting before they moved around the house with the president very comfortable in the company of Msipa.
Insiders have said Mugabe is now casting a lone figure at the helm of both the country and Zanu PF as most of his long time comrades have passed on, while some like former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa were expelled from the party last year, and the likes of Msipa, who is 84, have retired from active politics.
In 2012, Mugabe revealed that Mutasa, 11 years his junior, was the only politician who came close to him then in terms of age and with whom he could talk “about how we used to approach girls or we would go to this and that place, riding bicycles”.
In Midlands Mugabe also implored party supporters to remain united as the deadly factional and succession wars in the ruling party get uglier and messier.
“We should be united in this province and in the next elections we want to win elections even here in Gweru,” Mugabe said.
He said the party should be on guard against the opposition MDC led by his former counterpart in a coalition government.
“The MDC don’t even know their origins vanofungirwa nevarungu kurwisa musangano (they work under instructions from whites).?