His car — emblazoned with the picture of First Lady Grace Mugabe — was a subtle reflection of his proximity to power.
By XOLISANI NCUBE
This sent shivers down the spines of those who contemplated challenging his word whenever he took to the podium.
The impression he gave was he had been sent by the highest authority in the land.
Today, suspended Harare youth leader Godwin Gomwe is before the courts accused of abusing the name of the First Family to extort desperate home-seekers and other people to the tune of $46 000.
Gomwe, the feared Zanu PF Harare youth league boss, was instrumental in the dramatic downfall of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and several other top officials perceived to be her allies.
He was among a gang of seven provincial youth leaders who traversed the length and breadth of Zimbabwe with Grace denouncing Mujuru in the run-up to Zanu PF’s December congress.
His story could be easily summed up as the rise and fall of a man who had power and popular support but abused it.
The short but tough talking Gomwe is in the dock along with five other party members facing allegations of extorting 10 housing cooperatives using the First Lady’s name. Several other cases of extortion implicating Gomwe are still surfacing.
In addition to being in court, Gomwe’s political career could soon come to an end after his executive moved to suspend him with a possibility of expulsion from the ruling party.
According to his deputy — who is now the acting provincial youth chairperson, Edson Takataka — the charges that Gomwe faces have brought the name of the party into disrepute.
“Yes, we have recommended that Cde Gomwe be suspended. The national executive led by Cde [Pupurai] Togarepi will have the final say. He will tell us how to proceed, but for now, we have decided to suspend him and I am the acting chairperson,” Takataka said.
“The executive met to deliberate on Gomwe’s fate. It was resolved that his conduct was putting the name of the party into disrepute. He was also accused of not respecting the party leadership and people in general, abusing the First Lady’s name and lack of respect for security personnel such as the Central Intelligence Organisation [CIO] and police officers.”
About three weeks ago, Gomwe was reported to the police for allegedly using obscene language against a CIO operative and labelling all State intelligence officials as “Gamatox”, a term used to denigrate Zanu PF members aligned to the Mujuru camp.
At the height of Zanu PF factional fights, Gomwe was instrumental in attacking Mujuru and the police, including their commanders, telling them their days were numbered.
According to a senior police officer, Gomwe behaved like a mini-president in Harare, with the veto to fire salvos at whoever he perceived to be against Mugabe.
Gomwe was suspended several times by the then Amos Midzi-led Harare provincial executive, only to be saved by the politburo.
At the last politburo meeting, Zanu PF secretary for commissariat Saviour Kasukuwere reportedly pushed a motion to have Gomwe fired from the party, but Cleveria Chizema, the Harare province politburo representative, shot down the proposal.
Who could have imagined this fall?
Outside the criminal charges, Gomwe has a civil suit to deal with after he was taken to the High Court for alleged land invasion in Harare’s Westlea suburb.
In the latest urgent chamber application filed at the High Court, Tapson Dzvetero representing Bradha Engineering Company Private Limited, which claims to own 25 hectares of land situated opposite Mr Maplanka Timber Sales, accuses Gomwe of invading the property.
Gomwe is accused of working in cahoots with Innocent Mango of Final Hope Housing Cooperative, Clever Musa of Josiah Tongogara Housing Cooperative and three others to invade the land on January 8 this year.
The applicant claims to have used almost a million dollars in servicing 196 stands on the land in question.
Political analyst, Alexandra Rusero said Gomwe was testing his own medicine and experiencing Zanu PF’s ruthless method of dealing with those who outgrew their ambitions.
“He is just being taught a lesson that in Zanu PF, you are not bigger than those who founded it,” he said.
He was granted $1 000 bail on three counts of extortion and $200 bail on two charges of criminal insult and breach of the Postal and Telecommunications Act after allegedly insulting a member of the CIO over the phone.