BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF heavyweights whose names feature on a sensational audio clip of a conversation allegedly between business tycoon Kuda Tagwireyi and Temba Mliswa which points to growing frustration with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership internally are all reluctant to speak about the explosive scandal.
The audio recording of a telephone conversation between Mliswa and Tagwireyi
went viral on social media after it was leaked on Friday, sparking allegations of state capture.
The two compare former president Robert Mugabe and Mnangagwa, whom the Norton legislator claims is an aloof leader.
Mliswa also revealed that several bigwigs were not happy that Mnangagwa was sidelining them in key appointments and the conversation also insinuated that Tagwireyi was calling the shots in government.
Zanu PF insiders said the issue was a hot potato in the ruling party and bigwigs were unsure of Mnangagwa’s reaction.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Zanu PF spokesperson, yesterday claimed that he had not listened to the audio.
“I will comment at the appropriate time after listening to the audio,” Chinamasa said.
The former Finance minister could neither deny nor confirm that he spoke to Mliswa as the controversial legislator claims in the recording.
Mliswa could be heard telling Tagwireyi that Chinamasa confided in him that he was unhappy about being left out of Mnangagwa’s Cabinet.
The acting Zanu PF spokesperson, who is one of the several Zanu PF bigwigs that were confined to the party’s headquarters when Mnangagwa formed his government two years ago, was said to have queried the appointment of outsiders like Kirsty Coventry into Cabinet.
Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of Parliament, whom Mliswa said complained that Mnangagwa does not consult people like him before appointing ministers, was coy when asked to respond to the revelations.
“I have no comment on that one,” Mudenda curtly said yesterday. “I have no comment.”
Mnangagwa is described as a weak leader whose key appointments to government lacked strategic considerations with Tagwireyi suggesting that he needed an enforcer in his team.
Mliswa also revealed an alleged plot involving the head of an anti-corruption unit in Mnangagwa’s office, Thabani Mpofu, to arrest MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
The former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman has not commented directly on the audio, but yesterday made reference to a scandal that had set social media alight.
“Wow! In between the water initiative in Shurugwi and a short time to rest these Twitter streets have been busy,” he tweeted.
“Social media is awash.
“Never a dull moment! Whilst interesting, as it seems everyone loves a good scandal, it’s not nation-building.
“It will, however, make for good reading in my autobiography, let me hold publishing for its inclusion, thanks for the contributions everyone, I can’t wait to read it myself.”
Mliswa was not picking calls yesterday.
Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who is another person Mliswa says observed Mnangagwa’s penchant to sideline people that helped him rise to power, was also evasive yesterday.
Kasukuwere said he was busy and promised to speak to The Standard “later”, but did not honour the pledge.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said those featured in the recording were better placed to comment about it.
“This is not government business,” Mutsvangwa said. “If there is an audio [and] you have identified speakers, maybe the best is for you to ask them.”
A senior Zanu PF official, however, said the audio gave a glimpse of the power struggles in the ruling party and government.
“The audio is a tip of the iceberg,” the official said.
“There are serious divisions over Mnangagwa’s leadership style.”
The official said the leaked audio would ensure the fights exploded into the public soon.
This followed the sacking of Fortune Chasi as Energy minister with Tagwireyi indicating in the audio that he influenced the decision.
Mliswa and Tagwireyi also criticised the appointment of Soda Zhemu to replace Chasi and Anxious Masuka, who took over from the late Perrance Shiri as Agriculture minister.
Mliswa sounded anxious that there were plans to arrest Chasi for alleged corruption, but Tagwireyi is heard assuring him that the Mazowe South MP would never be arrested.