Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday lashed out at Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and the Harare provincial leadership for the chaos that rocked Harare East over election candidates in recent weeks.
By XOLISANI NCUBE
Addressing campaign rallies in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa exonerated the fighting candidates, Terrence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo of any wrong doing.
In apparent reference to Kasukuwere and Chombo who were supporting rival candidates, the VP said the blame should be put squarely on the national leadership who had vested interests on who should be the MP for the area.
“Let me say this to you, there is no one, myself included, who has a pocket that can fit Zanu PF. Zanu PF will never fit in anyone’s pocket. It’s you who can fit in the pocket of Zanu PF,” Mnangagwa said.
“In Harare East there was Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo who contested against each other and we ended up having the two standing as Zanu PF candidates. It was not of their making but because of the national leaders who had their own motives and views to issues.”
He added: “When the issue was brought to us the party elders, we respected the wishes of the people, not the wishes of individuals and we supported the one who had won the elections.”
Until last week Chombo and Kasukuwere along with the Harare provincial leadership was at war on who should be the party’s candidate for Harare East between Mukupe and Gumbo.
Accusations and counter accusations flew between the two, with war veterans joining in the fray.
Chombo and the provincial team led by acting chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa backed Gumbo while Kasukuwere threw his weight on Mukupe.
Before Mnangagwa intervened, war veterans took a stance against Mukupe and Kasukuwere claiming that the political commissar was working with Americans to topple Mugabe, a charge the Water and Climate minister denied, describing the veterans as drunkards and ordering them to shut up.
Mnangagwa had to intervene and ruled that Mukupe, who had won the party’s internal polls, was to represent Zanu PF and ordered Gumbo to withdraw.
The politburo also move in and made a resolution supporting Mukupe who the provincial team had said was unknown in the party and had a questionable history. The Vice-President said Gumbo has since written a letter pledging her support to Zanu PF and Mukupe. He said nobody should question anyone when the party elevated her to some post because she had shown “respect and loyalty to the party”.
Mnangagwa did not end there. He said no party leader either at national or provincial level, should interfere with the operations of other party organs below them. They must wait to be briefed appropriately, he said.
“Even here I don’t interfere in Kasukuwere’s office. This is his territory, he is the one who has invited me and had he desired, he would not have allowed me to address you here. There is nothing that I was going to do because it is his office. I was going to deal with him when we are there at the politburo where I am his boss. But here, he is the boss,” Mnangagwa said.
He told the provincial leadership to organise party structures in Harare, saying they must ensure Zanu PF won all the six by-elections set for June 10 and increase its MPs from the current six to 12.
The by-elections are as result of the decision by the MDC-T to recall MPs who ditched the Morgan Tsvangirai-led team to form a splitter group called the MDC Renewal under the leadership of Tendai Biti — the former MDC-T secretary-general.
The MDC formations are boycotting the elections demanding the fulfilment of electoral reforms.
But Mnangagwa said Tsvangirai should continue to boycott all future polls so that Zanu PF “can continue to rule without opposition”.
“Let those who are boycotting elections continue to do so and us we will continue to rule, we will increase our MPs in parliament. This is an opportunity that God has given you to repent and leave darkness which you had chosen,” he said.
Kasukuwere said Tsvangirai was also campaigning for Zanu PF in his “no election without reforms” rallies as he was singing Zanu PF songs.
“Yesterday [Friday] he [Tsvangirai] was in Dzivaresekwa where he said he is now singing Zanu PF songs such as Rambai Makashinga [continue to be strong]. This shows that he is Zanu PF, his wife is Zanu PF, the house he is living in belongs to Zanu PF, what do you expect from him,” Kasukuwere said.
Mnangagwa addressed rallies in Dzivaresekwa where Zanu PF will be represented by Omega Hungwe, Kambuzuma where Tinashe Maduza will represent the party against a few independents candidates, Highfield where Psychology Mazivisa will stand as the Zanu PF candidate and in Harare East where Mukupe will battle it out with little- known political parties and independents.
At least 16 by-elections are set to be held on June 10 with Zanu PF almost guaranteed of a clean sweep after the mainstream opposition withdrew its participation in the polls.