ZIMBABWE – HARARE – Rattled by the dramatic re-entry into formal national politics by former Vice President Joice Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe is embarking on a new wave of savage purges of her perceived allies in his warring post-congress Zanu PF and government.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News that there was pandemonium and much trepidation among senior Zanu PF officials, especially those who were in Cabinet and the National Assembly, amid talk of pending wholesale purges as the embattled nonagenarian fights to keep his former number two at bay.
Mugabe fired Sport and Recreation minister Andrew Langa from Cabinet on Thursday, replacing him with former journalist and Mberengwa East legislator Makhosini Hlongwane — a few days after the nonagenarian effected a major and much-criticised reshuffle of his executive team.
“There is more coming. Langa was just the first in the latest round of purges as Gushungo (Mugabe) moves to weed out all Gamatox members still around. Watch this space,” a senior Zanu PF official identified with the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks who are known as the Generation 40 (G40) group said.
Mujuru was purged from both the post-congress Zanu PF and the government late last year, together with several other party bigwigs, on untested and widely discredited allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
Since the frail nonagenarian, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country’s independence from Britain in April 1980, won the disputed 2013 elections, the economy has been on a steep downward spiral while his ruling party is in tatters as his impatient lieutenants stampede to succeed him.
The spokesperson of the rival Zanu PF formation that uses the slogan People First, Rugare Gumbo, said yesterday that what was happening in the post-congress Zanu PF was “entirely predictable” as Mugabe and his brawling party were “clueless” about lifting Zimbabwe out of its current gloom — choosing to focus, instead, on petty factional matters.
“The purges will continue. They will not stop. Zanu PF kwava kumatongo, hakuna chiriko (Zanu PF is now a heap of ruins. The party no longer has anything to offer). There is no future there,” Gumbo said emphatically.
“They do not know who their enemies are anymore and are now very confused. They are fumbling in the dark, focussing on imaginary enemies,” Gumbo said.
Another insider claimed to the Daily News that some of the people who were targeted for the sack over their perceived links to Mujuru had already had their party cars repossessed, amid fears that they would lose their other government given assets such as farms.
Amid the growing fear of Mujuru within the panicking Zanu PF, its hardliners have been threatening that the former VP and her allies face imminent arrest on account of the various alleged crimes, including corruption, that they committed while still in the ruling party.
However, the Mujuru camp has dismissed with contempt such claims, saying its leading lights will not lose sleep over the “empty threats”.
The Daily News has reported that Mugabe is “worried sick” about Mujuru’s re-entry into national politics — particularly with regards to the possibility of her reaching a possible electoral pact with popular MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Mugabe’s fears were laid bare on Tuesday when the nonagenarian threatened the country’s forthright independent media on allegations of propping up Mujuru.
Addressing a luncheon to mark the official opening of the third session of the eighth Parliament, Mugabe however claimed that he was not afraid of Mujuru.
“The media is writing that I am afraid of this person, I am not afraid of Mai Mujuru. She created trouble for herself and now there are some who would want to have her at the top even when she has done nothing to deserve it. If she wants politics, let her do it,” he said — threatening unspecified future action against the independent media.
Another source who spoke to the Daily News also claimed that more senior party officials, including Cabinet ministers and veteran legislators — who were suspected to be close to Mujuru, were facing the chop.
He said party hardliners were strongly of the view that expelling Mujuru’s perceived allies would provide “a timely and sufficient deterrent” to all members that crossing Mugabe’s path would not be tolerated.
“The national disciplinary committee (NDC) has been directed to speedily deal with all pending disciplinary cases because some of the individuals are being suspected of either creating another faction in the party or continuing to associate with Mujuru,” he said.
Among the other senior party officials who were facing the dreaded chop were the likes of Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora, suspended Chipinge legislator Enock Porusingazi, his Kwekwe Central counterpart Masango Matambanadzo, and former Health deputy minister Paul Chimedza.
The Zanu PF NDC is chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
Its other members include Mugabe’s controversial wife Grace (secretary for women’s affairs), Pupurai Togarepi (secretary for youth affairs) and combative Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also the party’s national political commissar.
The NDC has this year alone dealt with more than 100 disciplinary cases, many of which have resulted in expulsions and suspensions after the people concerned were fingered in the alleged and murky Mujuru plot to oust Mugabe from power, and to assassinate the frail nonagenarian.