VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s top allies accused of threatening three ministers from the Midlands Province have been cleared by a Zanu PF disciplinary hearing in another intriguing twist to the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe pitting the VP and a faction linked to the First Lady.
The committee, instead accused Sport minister Makhosini Hlongwane, Labour deputy minister Tapiwa Matangaidze and Tourism deputy minister Anastancia Ndlovu of trying to use Mugabe and First Lady Grace’s names to advance their own interests.
They were also accused by the committee, chaired by Zanu PF Midlands deputy chairperson Daniel McKenzie Ncube, of concocting lies after the ministers claimed they were being victimised for refusing to align with Mnangagwa’s faction.
The three had complained to the party’s commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko that they were being intimidated and victimised by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Gokwe-Kana MP Owen Ncube and Midlands youth chairperson Edmore Samambwa.
The ministers accused the trio of forcing them to submit to “another narrative”, but the committee’s ruling announced yesterday turned the tables against Zanu PF’s Generation 40 faction that reportedly backs Grace to succeed Mugabe.
“It is the conclusion of this committee that there are no reasonable grounds for even suspecting that the accused persons committed the alleged acts of misconduct,” Ncube said in the report.
“The allegations are just bald and lacking in substantiation. It appears complainants sat down and connived to fabricate these allegations to paint a very negative picture of the Midlands Province in the eyes of the First Family.”
The committee condemned the ministers for allegedly trying to use the First Family for their agenda.
“There was a clear desperate attempt by the complainants to try and involve the names of His Excellency the President Cde RG Mugabe and the First Lady Dr Amai Grace Mugabe,” the report added.
“That is very unfortunate and such conduct needs to be discouraged and condemned in the strongest terms.
“The inference of an alternative centre of power which is not clarified or substantiated makes the conduct of the complainants reprehensible”
Ncube said it was equally “reprehensible to infer unproven and absurd sexual orientation to senior members of the party and attribute such statements to others and fail to furnish adequate proof.”
Wadyajena was also accused by the complainants of saying some officials of a group in Zanu PF known as G40 were homosexuals.
The committee accused the complainants of wanting to cause disharmony within the province and party.
“The accused persons are known Zanu PF strong supporters, who have stood firmly with the First Family in the face of adversity. There is no need to charge the accused persons. There is no case to answer,” said the report, also jointly signed by Colleta Mutambisi as secretary.
According to the report, Ndlovu did not appear personally to give oral evidence and the committee relied on a letter she jointly penned with Hlongwane and Matangaidze.
The committee raised several cases that made them conclude the three ministers had no genuine complaint including failure by the three to explain what they meant by saying “the attacks were G40 motivated”.
They also, according to the committee, failed to clarify on the “alternative narrative they were being forced to give allegiance to.”
“The fact that the complainants confirmed that they were at the Mataga rally but did not personally see what the accused Cde Owen Ncube and ‘his’ hired thugs did leads us to conclude that their evidence is just hearsay and not an eye witness account,” the report stated.
The committee also said Hlongwane and Ndlovu were not at the Midlands conference last year, hence their written allegations were based on hearsay and therefore could not be relied on.
“It appeared to the committee baseless and unthinkable that any person would regard the first secretary of the party and president of the country as an outsider of a province. The allegation is unbelievable, unless it was substantiated,” the report added.
“The complainants are not the only ministers from Midlands Province and we have no other similar complaints from the rest of the ministers in the Midlands Province, which makes it doubtful that all the ministers in the Midlands Province are being victimised.”
Insiders said the trio could be charged for wanting to cause disharmony in the province.
They said Matangaidze and Hlongwane attended yesterday’s provincial coordinating committee meeting in Gweru and indicated they would challenge the verdict, arguing they were not allowed to bring in their witnesses.
Ndlovu did not attend the meeting and no explanation was given.
The case gave a glimpse into the worsening infighting in Zanu PF pitting Mnangagwa’s supporters and G40.