The Zanu PF youth league and the women’s wing were instrumental in the purging of former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her supporters in 2014.
And, before the dust had settled, the ruling party a fortnight ago turned the sword on the youth league, firing seven of its leaders for entiasing President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Harare’s Godwin Gomwe (GG), Vengai Musengi (VM) from Mashonaland West and Godfrey Tsenengamu (GT) of Mashonaland Central say they are being victimised for refusing to be used again by Grace in her battle with Mujuru’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The youths poured their hearts out in an interview with our reporter Obey Manayiti (OM) on Friday. Below are excerpts of the interview.
OM: You were recently expelled from Zanu PF.
Any hard feelings over the way you were treated by the ruling party’s politburo?
GG: I don’t have hard feelings at all because I was not expelled by Zanu PF, but by G40. Zanu PF is a revolutionary party which follows the constitution of the party. Before my expulsion, they expelled the constitution first.
From the time I was removed as provincial chair, I became a member at cell level and if there are allegations against me in the party, then the branch or district should discipline me.
There is no procedure in the party which says I should be called to the national disciplinary committee (NDC) before recommendations are made by the branch or district.
The NDC cannot be the complainant and at the same time try me. I am a full member of Zanu PF and I am still paying my subscriptions.
VM: I am not challenging the expulsion because it is null and void, for they disregarded the party constitution.
OM: You were in the forefront of pushing Mujuru out of Zanu PF, do you feel used now that the same thing is happening to you?
VM: Yes, we were at the forefront as seven provincial youth chairpersons pushing for Mujuru’s ouster. We didn’t know that if they want to tarnish the image of a person, they create falsehoods like what happened to Mujuru who was accused of demanding 10% from corporates and consulting witchdoctors, all without evidence. We later concluded that all those were lies.
We want to apologise to her that we were used out of ignorance.
OM: So what was your role in the campaign against Mujuru?
GG: After receiving the allegations we would, as seven provincial, youth chairpersons and each in our particular provinces, take that information to the people.
We would mobilise and tell the people about all the allegations and we made people believe them. Our role was to mobilise on the ground using that information, which we were given by [names supplied] concerning Mujuru.
We later discovered that it was false, just like what is happening to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa right now.
OM: Were you given any funding for that mobilisation?
GG: No, not at all. Resources were only provided at national events and we would use our resources when doing the mobilisation at provincial level.
OM: Do you think it was the right decision to fire Mujuru from the party?
GG: The decision taken by the party at that time was correct although the allegations against her were cooked up.
OM: Now that you have been expelled, do you think the president is a dictator?
VM: The president is using divide and rule tactics. We blame G40, which was started in his own house through the First Lady Grace Mugabe.
GG: The president’s way of governing is not democratic. On determination of our cases, he is the one who gives the final say in the politburo and the politburo has about 38 people.
If you do a survey to check if the politburo agrees with the expulsion of 16 youths, you will realise that only seven politburo members aligned to G40 are agreeable to our expulsion.
Thirty one didn’t approve, but because of fear they cannot say anything, therefore we don’t see his ruling style as democratic.
He doesn’t consult others. Actually, it was planned in his house and the politburo was just there to rubber stamp.
From 1963, this has never happened. However, expelling us doesn’t solve problems affecting Zanu PF now. We should revert back to constitutionalism and stop this dictatorship and stop taking others as second-class citizens.
(Hurungwe East MP) Sarah Mahoka insulted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa in full view of everyone but we are being taken to court over WhatsApp messages, where there is no evidence at all, of who authored them.
OM: Do you think the First Lady is the author of Zanu PF’s problems?
VM: Before her there were others like Oppah Muchinguri and she has never gone around the country to insult leaders, security forces and others like what Grace is doing now. Since her entry into politics problems started and we now see heartless expulsions. We refused to accompany them to do as we did to Mujuru, which was wrong anyway.
OM: Is there a time when you were approached to fight Mnangagwa?
GG: The national political commissar is the one who is being used to go on the ground to see who supports G40.
Those who do not support G40 would face different allegations so that they are expelled, which is why you see these expulsions.
We were expelled as seven provincial youth chairpersons because towards end of year last year, we were not attending the First Lady’s tours after we realised the hate speeches at Grace’s rallies were not doing any good to the party.
As a mother, she should build and not destroy. If she has problems with other leaders, she should follow correct channels to address them, not what she does at rallies.
It’s clear she is a successionist and thinks as a First Lady, she has the mandate to do as she pleases.
OM: Specifically, were you approached to join them and if so — when?
VM: [Saviour] Kasukuwere came and said to us, let’s work together and fight Mnangagwa and we refused. In Mashonaland West he came sometime around November.
GG: As for me, Kasukuwere used an accreditation letter for last year’s conference. He was the one with the letter and he wanted to use it to lure me into the G40 programmes, but I refused.
OM: Do you think the failure by the president to appoint a successor is the source of current Zanu PF fights?
VM: The president has no power to appoint a successor. A successor should be nominated by the people. In our party constitution, the president doesn’t appoint a successor.
OM: Would you consider joining hands with others who were expelled from Zanu PF in the same manner that Mujuru and those who followed her did?
GG: I am comfortable to work with anyone as long as they follow ideologies and principles of Zanu PF and not any other party. We don’t have permanent enemies or friends in Zanu PF.
VM: If she comes back to Zanu PF, then there is no problem provided we will be following the party’s constitution. She should come back to Zanu PF first.
OM: There are allegations that you are acting on behalf of Mnangagwa to fight G40. Are you his foot soldiers?
GG: There is nothing like that and that is the same division which I was talking about just now. Everyone in Zanu PF, even from cell level, now knows that politics in Zanu PF is following the route of G40.
Mnangagwa has never sent us anywhere and as the vanguard of the party, we see G40 as an animal that has destroyed Zanu PF.
If we question why Mahoka insulted Mnangagwa, then they call us his followers.
So they want us to keep quiet on that. We don’t follow individuals but Zanu PF. If Mnangagwa or Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is insulted, we will also not keep quiet.
VM: We are not anyone’s foot soldiers; if Mphoko is attacked, we will not sit back because we are the vanguard of the party.
GT: That is a lie because for example, I am 33 years old and Mnangagwa has been working with President Mugabe for the past 52 years. Who was fighting for him all these years?
Does Mnangagwa want a person like me to fight for him?
If they take our fighting for justice and constitutionalism in the party as fighting for Mnangagwa, then he must be a very principled person.
If Mnangagwa has his own grievances, he will fight for himself. He is not a doll and if he wants to say something he will say it.
OM: In your own view, why is Mnangagwa being fought like this?
GG: In my view, he is fought by people who think they are the legitimate people to select a successor of President Mugabe.
They create issues to tarnish Mnangagwa’s image and if you check correctly, the same allegations used on Mujuru are the same employed on Mnangagwa, why? Mujuru was accused of extorting 10% and Mnangagwa is accused of demanding 30%.
Mujuru was accused of consulting witchdoctors, the same allegations being made against Mnangagwa. Where is the evidence?
Why it is that all the people who were with the president during the war are rebelling against him?
Mnangagwa has spent almost 52 years working with the president and those who didn’t even go to war are accusing him of rebellion, why is that so?
OM: Are you feeling safe after the expulsion from Zanu PF?
GT: As for me, I am feeling insecure, not politically, but my safety. We have been receiving private calls, with people threatening us.
They are trying to find trumped up charges against us, all in a bid to silence us. We are also seeing people who we don’t know following us everywhere we go.
We take it as a plot to tamper with our lives. However, in the spirit of building the country, we will not tire.
If they want to harm us, arrest or kill us, then we are prepared to die for a good cause than to live and be accused by our children of being sell-outs.
OM: What is your motivation?
GT: I am a family man and if I look at my children, I see a bleak future. If we fail to rise and fight to correct all that is happening now, we will be creating disaster for our children and they will take us for cowards.
We will not be intimidated by those who threaten us. We will continue fighting to bring back constitutionalism in the party.