Knives are out for Zanu PF secretary for administration and Presidential Affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa amid reports that there is a plot to dislodge him from his position at the forthcoming December congress.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
Sources said as Zanu PF factional fights worsened ahead of the congress, Mutasa was largely being portrayed as a divisive and ineffective leader to dampen his chances of winning the position of national chairman or to get re-appointed by President Robert Mugabe as a member of the politburo.
Mutasa was on Friday allegedly booed and denounced at First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s rally in Mutare by Zanu PF youths bussed from Harare, resulting in near ugly clashes with youths from Manicaland.
A senior Zanu PF official said Mutasa, who is also the acting party finance boss, has been on the receiving end since August when Mugabe accused him and other bigwigs of failing to organise the chaotic Women and Youth League conferences where delegates allegedly starved and had no transport.
“Mutasa was the workhorse in the [Vice-President Joice] Mujuru faction. He has openly supported Mujuru’s ascendancy to the Presidency while dismissing the chances of [Justice minister, Emmerson] Mnangagwa rising to the top,” he said.
“Mutasa is now at his weakest point in Zanu PF politics because of the recent attacks and the entrance of the First Lady into politics. There is now a serious lobbying that he be replaced as secretary for administration at the congress in December.”
In April, Mutasa reportedly said Zanu PF officials trying to torpedo Mujuru in the race to succeed Mugabe were literally day-dreaming.
Another Zanu PF official said the way Mutasa was treated at Grace’s rally by rowdy youths from Harare in his own stronghold of Mutare was meant to embarrass him in front of people who thought he was untouchable.
Mutasa is considered the “godfather” of Manicaland.
“Mutasa is unlikely to land the chairmanship post because of the Zapu factor. But neither is he likely to retain his position because there is serious lobbying that it either goes to Mnangagwa or Oppah Muchinguri, who relinquished her post in favour of the First Lady,” said the Zanu PF source.
But Harare Youth League Chairperson Godwin Gomwe who was fingered in the denigration of Mutasa told The Standard that the skirmishes that occurred in Mutare were unfortunate.
He said as youths, they still had respect for the party leadership in all the country’s provinces.
“What happened in Mutare was not an issue…We heard some youths calling out against Cde Mutasa but we respect him as a Politburo member appointed by the President. He is not a youth member so we have no say in whether or not he remains in the party’s leadership,” said Gomwe.
He also disputed claims that he hired bouncers to openly boo and denounce Mutasa and Manicaland provincial chairman Ambassador John Mvundura.
Zanu PF deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Kudzai Chipanga, who is reportedly linked to Mutasa and the Mujuru faction, said as the national youth leadership, they did not condone violence and indiscipline and encouraged their membership to respect the party hierarchy.
Mutasa yesterday refused to speak on the booing incident. But party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he was yet to get a full report on the incident.
He said he would issue a statement once he had been fully appraised on what transpired.
“I haven’t gotten the full report from our Manicaland office, so I will wait for Collen Mutasa, the head in the area, for a briefing, after which I will issue a statement,” said Gumbo.
Mutasa was reportedly heckled by the youths from Harare in a development that torched a fracas as youth from Manicaland led by provincial secretary for administration in the Youth League Sheila Mutsenhu accused their Harare counterparts of insulting their “provincial godfather”.
Mutasa, who used to hold sway in the party’s structures in Manicaland, has been slowly losing grip on the province. Last year several provincial bigwigs led by then Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa and Muchinguri reportedly wrote a petition accusing Mutasa of dictatorship and dividing the province. He denied the accusations.