ZIMBABWE – HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is now haunted by the “unjust and disastrous” purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters from the post-congress Zanu PF and government, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa says.
Seaking yesterday, Mutasa — for long one of the most trusted lieutenants of Mugabe — said it had become apparent “even kuna (to) VaMugabe” that Mujuru was not the source of Zanu PF’s problems, as the party’s factional and succession wars had worsened after her brutal purge late last year.
This was why he had “little doubt” that Mugabe and the post-congress Zanu PF were haunted by Mujuru’s expulsion from the ruling party “on false allegations” that she had been plotting to oust from power and assassinate the increasingly-frail nonagenarian.
Mutasa also said so fraught and ominous was the climate within the post-congress Zanu PF that Mugabe was now under growing pressure to prove that he is still in charge of the party and its sole centre of power.
“The most important person in this country is VaMugabe and you would expect him to say something when such things (worsening factional and succession wars) are happening in his party.
“Previously, he said it’s Mai Mujuru and (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa. But now that she is gone, who does he blame
“He is clearly seeing what is happening in the country — the economy is bleeding and people are suffering.
“The post-congress Zanu PF, as the ruling party, controls the economy and everything, including me.
“But people are getting poorer and hungrier. In Headlands, for example, many are facing starvation but the ruling party is focussed more on its useless succession wars,” Mutasa said.
Pressed to say if all this demonstrated that Mugabe had lost control of the levers of power in his party and the country, Mutasa laughed and then went on to pooh-pooh the post-congress Zanu PF’s “so-called one centre of power”, adding, “that construct is not attainable”.
“When Emmerson still has a faction, how can you say there is one centre of power in Zanu PF? If there is, then that centre can no longer hold.
“Also, why was such a centre ever created if it cannot function and is actually giving the president problems? This is not to say that they should expel Emmerson, but what is happening is affecting our country very badly,” Mutasa said.
The former senior Cabinet minister spoke as Mnangagwa — who was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Mujuru’s expulsion from the ruling party — is now walking a tightrope, with his Zanu PF rivals expediently, accusing him of prematurely planning for life after Mugabe while he is still at the helm.
In this ugly succession brawl, Mnangagwa is said to be locked in a bitter fight with ambitious party Young Turks, known as the Generation 40 (G40), who are opposed to him and are closely linked to Mugabe’s controversial, but increasingly-powerful wife Grace.
The first lady has made it clear in the past that nothing can stop her from aiming for the highest job in the land, effectively setting herself up on a collision course with Mnangagwa, whose loyalists refer to him as the “crown prince”.
Mutasa also said “no amount of spying and infiltration” by State security agents working on behalf of the post-congress Zanu PF would force the People First movement “to prematurely announce” its plans.
He was also adamant that the yet-to-be-formed party had already established provisional structures across the country and that it would be formally launched at “the appropriate time”.
“In as much as I am tempted to divulge when we are forming our party, I am not allowed by my fellow members to talk about that, until the time is opportune,” he said, pooh-poohing State media reports of leadership cracks emerging in the movement.
“I was talking to Mai Mujuru just yesterday, and on Saturday I spoke to Gumbo and he told me he had gone to the Midlands.
“We don’t boast, we are united and there is no way we can allow our leader to just talk.
“She will speak on crucial occasions and whenever it is really necessary. Talks of divisions exist only in the imaginations of drunkards,” Mutasa said.
He added the fact that the post-congress Zanu PF was bitterly divided could be blamed on both Mugabe’s failure to name a successor, as well as his “choice to listen to liars”.
“We are trying to build a new movement that does not go around beating their chest.
“You don’t see the queen (Mujuru) all over, you see her people. Mai Mujuru is definitely our queen.
“The ruling party’s unnecessary wars are a boon to the People First movement, as their disgruntled members are being chased away daily from the party.
“Those who are being affected by the so-called votes of no confidence are coming to People First,” Mutasa said.
“That is why I am saying there is no party stronger than People First in this country,” he added.