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Knives out for Mutasa in Manicaland

KNIVES are out for Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa with information emerging that some senior officials from Manicaland province want to petition President Robert Mugabe to fire him.

Report by Patrice Makova

Sources told The Standard yesterday that a storm is already brewing in Zanu PF, after information was leaked that several senior officials allegedly held a secret meeting in Mutare on Friday night to discuss the ouster of Mutasa, accusing him of destroying the party in Manicaland.

As jostling for both the control of Manicaland and succession of Mugabe intensified ahead of forthcoming elections, a senior Zanu PF official said Mutasa was being accused of causing divisions through alleged imposition of candidates and dictatorial practices.

“They were saying Zanu PF is now dead in Manicaland because of Mutasa,” said the official. A petition is now being drafted to be presented to Mugabe so that he is toppled as secretary for administration and replaced by another politburo member from here.”

Another official said Mutasa was also being blamed for Zanu PF’s loss in Manicaland in the 2008 elections.

He was also being accused of instigating the recent investigation of provincial chairman Mike Madiro on allegations of defrauding diamond mining companies and his subsequent suspension.

Madiro is expected to appear in court tomorrow over the allegations.

“The idea of the meeting was to convince Mugabe that Zanu PF will lose dismally in the forthcoming elections if Mutasa is not put on a leash,” said another official. “However, our worry is that the meeting was held in secret and our understanding is that it was chaired by a member currently on suspension.”

The official likened the meeting to the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration of 2004, where several top Zanu PF officials were accused of plotting a de facto coup against Mugabe.

Mugabe last year admitted that factionalism cost Zanu PF 20 of the 26 seats in Manicaland which went to the MDC-T.

Mutasa is the most senior Zanu PF official in Manicaland and is sometimes touted as a potential candidate for the vice-president’s post, left vacant after the recent death of John Nkomo. 

Currently he is the fourth most senior Zanu PF official after Mugabe, Vice-President Joice Mujuru and party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo.

According to the sources, the meeting was allegedly held at Zanu PF’s women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri’s upmarket Murambi home.

Other senior officials who allegedly attended the meeting include Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, deputy Minister of Energy, Hubert Nyanhongo, Madiro, acting chairperson Dorothy Mabika, Buhera North legislator and businessman William Mutomba and war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba.

Most of the officials who met were said to be sympathetic to the Zanu PF faction loyal to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. The faction is battling with another loyal to Mujuru in the battle to succeed 89-year-old Mugabe.

Mutomba confirmed the meeting indeed took place.

The Buhera MP said he had told the meeting that the issue [petition] should not be made public before Mutasa was given a chance to respond to the allegations and defend himself.

“I do not want to back bite people, but my view was that the issue should go to the leadership before being published in the press so that those being talked about can present their position,” said Mutomba.

Madiro yesterday professed ignorance of the meeting. “I don’t know anything about a meeting. In politics people can say anything, but as far as I am concerned I do not know anything [about the supposed meeting],” he said.

Nyanhongo refused to speak to The Standard saying he was attending a memorial service out of Harare.
Chinamasa’s and Chinotimba’s phones were not available.

Mutasa said he had heard from several people that such a meeting took place, but had not paid much attention to the reports.

“They are welcome [to petition Mugabe] if that is what they want,” he said. “But it’s just a handful of people. I do not think it’s the view of the majority.”

He said allegations being levelled against him were personal views of a few individuals which could be best answered by those accusing him.

Mutasa said he was also surprised that politburo members could have agreed to be chaired by a suspended member.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said reports that such a meeting took place were disturbing.

“I have no idea and knowledge about the meeting,” he said. “But if it has indeed taken place, then I am surprised that people are not following party procedures. I don’t know what’s going on there. By Monday I will have gotten to the bottom of the problem.”

Zanu PF goes to the elections deeply divided with members of the Mujuru and Mnangagwa faction positioning themselves to succeed 89-year-old Mugabe.

Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have denied leading factions in the party. But Mugabe last year confirmed the existence of the factions, warning this threatened to destabilise the party.

No meeting took place—Muchinguri

Oppah Muchinguri yesterday professed ignorance of the meeting.  “Right now I am at my farm in Nyazura and I am not aware of any meeting that took place,” she said.
Muchinguri said as a seasoned politician she knew the proper channels to resolve internal party problems, including involving Moyo as the national chairman.

“I am mature after fighting in the liberation struggle,” she said. “These people telling you such things do not know the real issues. We are dealing with people who are power hungry and I am afraid that the enemy may have infiltrated us.”

Muchinguri said she had nothing against Mutasa and respected the entire party leadership.

She said whenever there were problems in Manicaland these were addressed through the provincial coordinating committee meetings where party officials were free to democratically say whatever they wanted.

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