Former vice-president Joice Mujuru last week sparked debate after she claimed that some of the senior Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) members she fired recently wanted to sleep with her after describing her as a “queen bee” of the party.
the big interview BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Mujuru said former Zanu PF leaders such as Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa tried to undermine her leadership of the party because she was a woman.
The claims were made as the fight for the control of ZimPF intensified between the party’s interim leader and those fired for allegedly plotting a coup against her.
Our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) yesterday talked to Gumbo (RG) to get an insight into the squabbles rocking the opposition party and he opened up about what they meant about Mujuru being the “queen bee”.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
EM: Just two weeks ago, Zimbabwe woke up to shocking news that you had been fired from ZimPF, a party you and other fellow comrades like Didymus Mutasa, Claudius Makova and others worked hard to form.
What can you say about Joice Mujuru’s decision to fire you?
RG: Well, it was really unfortunate that Mai Mujuru decided to act in that manner, but it was inevitable anyway because differences were already coming out.
We have differences over her style of leadership. We had differences over her deviation from the core values that we initiated right from the beginning.
The main thing really is that Mai Mujuru has no capacity to run an organisation. She has no ability; neither does she have the capacity to learn any leadership template.
She has nothing and when we left Zanu PF, we thought we could try to assist her using the beehive economic philosophy, which she talks about, the so-called queen bee.
We have tried to say look, as the queen bee, you are going to be the leader, we are the drone, solid team of drones to protect you and there will be quite a team of energetic workers to work for you, that is the party supporters, members so and so.
But she could not understand that. The reason why we had to do that was to try to protect her because we had realised she did not have the capacity.
We did that for a while and the party grew significantly, but as soon as she started to push us out, she burst out the whole thing and we warned her that what she had done is wrong and was going to have consequences for the organisation.
So, as we moved on with the party, it became clear that she did not know what she was supposed to do. The party was directionless.
She started creating parallel structures. Mutasa and I as founding elders would sit down with her and tell her that the best thing to do was to do this and that, but she would then go and consult other structures, formed by people who surrounded her and some of these people are her relatives, known criminals.
We then said let’s form a steering committee, perhaps the two of us are being unfair to her. So we formed a steering committee and initially it was made up of 10 people and we expanded and it was about 30 and now, this steering committee made a decision that national coordinator Dzikamai Mavhaire should be reassigned, the youth league, women’s league also said the same, that Mavhaire should be reassigned because he was abusing resources and that he was creating parallel structures throughout the country.
The steering committee made the decisions and she said she was going to implement the decision but wanted to sleep over it.
We said fine, sleep over it and she is still sleeping over it until now. So on January 31, we met and asked her the position about Mavhaire because there was now a lot of pressure.
We agreed with her that perhaps because of the resignation of many members, to stop losing more members we should implement the decision to reassign Mavhaire.
We asked her who would implement the decision; she said the administration would do that. The meeting ended but before VaMutasa got home, she rang telling him Mavhaire was at her gate and asked if she should go ahead and tell him of the steering committee’s decision to reassign him.
VaMutasa said, well, it was fine for her to tell him. But the next thing, there was change of tone. She said we never agreed to reassign him.
So you can see how deceptive she is as a leader. We decided we would resolve the issue on February 7, but she did not come, promising to come the following day at 10am.
On February 8, we were waiting for her at the party offices and the next thing we heard was, we were fired.
EM: Does she have the right to fire you?
RG: No, she does not have the right to fire us. We are the founders of this organisation. We invited her to come to lead us, she was reluctant.
We invited her because we felt she was young and we were sympathetic that she had lost her husband in mysterious circumstances.
We also felt she had the experience as Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years. That is what happened for her to come but we did not realise the other side which even [President Robert] Mugabe used to tell us about and we ignored, defending her.
All we are saying is, we wanted to see her so that we could discuss the issue and find a way forward, but we say, she can’t do that because first of all, she is an interim president, our draft constitution does not permit firing of members.
We have said, with the experience we had from Zanu PF, we cannot expel anyone, but reassign.
However, she decided to just fire us like that. We will see what measures we can take regarding this.
EM: You mentioned that Mujuru was deviating from the core values of ZimPF, can you give examples of the values that have been violated?
RG: First of all, when we decided to form ZimPF, we had a very unique mode. We said we were not going to have two vice-presidents because it creates tribal problems and so on.
She violated that in the constitution, she said she wanted two vice-presidents. One of the critical values is independence, self-determination and sovereignty; she does things that we cannot understand.
She approaches various organisations without consultations. Thirdly, we talked about democracy, but she single-handedly handles matters, the core ethos of democracy are totally ignored.
She was one centre of power where she made decisions by herself. She also doesn’t understand the issue of unity.
She talks of inclusivity, but she takes everyone on the basis that he said he supports Joice.
There are things to look at, the person’s history, gender, and region, there are many factors to be considered because some of them are spies, and they are operatives.
There should be a way of sieving people. Those are, among other things, the reasons why we clashed. She doesn’t like criticism.
EM: Can you clarify how your problems with Mujuru started.
RG: Right in the beginning, we had an understanding that Mujuru would be our leader; we were going to groom her.
But she likes new people who do not understand her.
We differed on how we could push our project forward. Our vision was the creation of a democratic Zimbabwe characterised by freedom, justice, peace, equity, tolerance with a highly performing economy that needs the aspirations of the people.
How can you achieve that when you have a visionless leader? She does not see any sense with the direction we had taken.
So we found ourselves in an awkward position that when we tried to decide something, she would go and consult her parallel structures.
EM: Last week, Mujuru said the main reason she fired you was that you dreaded inclusivity and a coalition with other opposition forces. What is your comment on that?
RG: Look, I said, as far as inclusivity is concerned, we all agree on that. You will see when we come out with our structures; you will find out that there will be everyone.
What we did not like is to take someone before checking them. Zanu PF is good in infiltration. But she only wanted people on the basis that they supported her.
That is the kind of reservations we had about the so-called inclusivity. Secondly, on the issue of coalition, we have all said we support a coalition, but it is the timing that matters. Do you want to form a coalition today long before elections?
Zanu PF will have a field day. It wont last. It will go for a few months and it will split. We need a coalition when we are about to go for elections so that Zanu PF will not have time to adjust and change.
We tried to warn others that this was the danger. What we are advocating for is a united front. Each party maintaining its structures, ideology, policies, but you have a minimum programme you should work on with others.
We want to work with all democratic forces, trade unions, residents associations, and so forth, but when we come to fundamental issues, this should come at the right time, like forming an election pact.
A grand coalition now will not work. Some coalitions come after the elections when there is a possibility of a run off. Those are our reservations about coalitions. Alliances yes, not coalition now.
EM: Mujuru has made sensational claims that you tried to topple her four times. She said you personally told Aggrippa Mutambara that you wanted to take over from Mujuru as party president. Can you comment on that?
EM: How can someone say that after I have sacrificed a lot for Joice? In Zanu PF and outside Zanu, when she was attacked left, right and centre, I and Mutasa supported her.
I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no intention whatsoever of becoming president of the party. My time was taken by Mugabe, I could have done that when I was in the 50s or 60s.
All I want now in my 70s is that the people of Zimbabwe can derive certain benefits from their independence.
We are trying to lure as many people as possible, those interested in leadership, we want them to come and contest for the leadership of the party. Not me, not Mutasa.
EM: In her statement when she fired you, she accused you of being Zanu PF agents. Don’t you think the presence of Victor Matemadanda and others known for siding with a Zanu PF faction at your meeting last week could validate Mujuru’s claims that you are agents of Zanu PF out to destroy ZimPF?
RG: How can we destroy ZimPF? It is ours. Can a person destroy his house and family? This is hogwash. If there is anyone who is closer to Zanu PF, it is Mujuru herself, not us.
She uses fuel from Zanu PF, security from Zanu PF, and everything, even her cars are repaired by Zanu PF. Her security are well paid CIOs. But we have no association with Zanu PF in any way except that we had been in Zanu PF.
EM: You have said you are the owner of the name ZimPF and Mujuru also claims that she is the custodian of the name. What do you see happening in the near future?
RG: The name belongs to us; she was invited to lead ZimPF. That doesn’t mean she should take the name. That is why we say, she doesn’t understand democracy.
People decide to support you because of your capacity to lead. She has failed and we say enough is enough; we lost confidence in her a long time ago.
For your information, we are taking measures to stop this nonsense from going on. We are already contesting in the Mwenezi by-election and she says she is not contesting.
So who is the real owner of the party, those providing a face to it or those hiding? There will be no need to even go to court over the party name because it is ours. But whatever happens, we are going to take measures to stop the nonsense.
EM: Mujuru has denied being invited by you to lead ZimPF, instead, claiming you were still contesting your expulsion from Zanu PF when the party was formed. What is your response to that?
RG: We didn’t take this matter to court because we wanted to go back to Zanu PF. We contested the unfair dismissal. We wanted to tell the world we were unfairly treated.
I am surprised when she says that. We are the ones who hammered the constitution that we used to register. It is unfortunate that we are dealing with a very naïve person who doesn’t understand the statecraft complexity of the situation.
It is pitiful that we are dealing with such a person. A liar, she says one thing today and another thing tomorrow.
EM: When do you expect to hold a congress to select party leadership?
RG: We are in the process of restructuring, given the developments that have taken place in the party.
We will sit down next week; have another steering committee that will hammer the way forward, the structuring of the party leading to the congress.
We have not decided on the date, but it is going to be soon.
EM: There was a story making rounds last week claiming that your fight with Mugabe had something to do with Fay Chung. How far true is that?
RG: That is hogwash. Mugabe would not sink that low to be doing that kind of thing. In the first place, the man never interviewed me.
It is an entire hoax to damage me, Mugabe, my other colleagues Edgar Tekere, Edson Zvobgo and so on.
EM: Mugabe predicted the split of ZimPF, do you see the current one as a Zanu PF project.
RG: We knew of it for a long time and we told them that the information we have from Chaminuka House [Central Intelligence Organisation headquarters] was the plan to split ZimPF, we told Mujuru but she could not understand as a person who doesn’t take other people’s views.
EM: You mentioned that Mujuru has become closer to some people, distancing herself from you, can you disclose the names?
RG: I cannot mention names, but it’s a cabal of relatives and cronies, some of them with criminal records.
EM: In a few words, how would you describe Mujuru?
RG: Mujuru is a failure. It’s a pity that some people seem to have a feeling that she can rule Zimbabwe.
She will never rule this country. It is a waste of time trying to support Mujuru. She doesn’t know what she is doing and what is to be done, and she is not prepared to learn.
EM: Did you discover this after being fired?
RG: Yes, we thought with the so-called Ph.D, she will learn the craft of running the party, the craft of running the country, but we discovered that she is literally blank, totally blank and I feel pity for those people that masquerade as Mujuru’s supporters, because honestly, there is nothing they will get in the end.
EM: There are allegations that you were being sponsored by Ray Kaukonde to destabilise ZimPF as a Team Lacoste project, which seems to have been supported by the presence of the Lacoste-aligned war veterans at your steering committee meeting last week. What can you say about that?
RG: Kaukonde has been a straightforward person. He is related to Mai Mujuru, but when he saw how things were shaping up, he was the first to say, “my niece has failed”.
She does not have the ability to lead the party. Those are frivolous allegations made by people who do not know Kaukonde well.