AS Zanu PF’s raging internal fights fuelled by the unresolved issue of President Robert Mugabe’s succession continue following purges of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies, Zimbabwe Independent political reporter Elias Mambo (EM) spoke to the party’s former secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa (DM), booted out of cabinet and the politburo after the divisive party congress in December before being expelled from the party on Wednesday.
Mutasa is preparing to mount a court challenge on the legality of the congress and endorsement of constitutional amendments that scrapped the election of the party vice-presidents and chairperson. He is further seeking nullification of the party’s congress resolutions, some of which gave Mugabe the power to appoint the entire top hierarchy.
In the interview, Mutasa, among other issues, speaks about his expulsion Mugabe’s ruined legacy, the need for leadership renewal, mafikizolos (Johnny-come-latelies) hijacking the party and the pending court application on the legality of the congress. Find below excerpts of the interview:
EM: Now that Zanu PF has expelled you, where to from here?
DM: They have expelled me from their illegal Zanu PF. I stay put in the original and legitimate Zanu PF which they are calling gamatox (banned insecticide). We are proud of that because the weevils are in trouble. They did not even call me to a hearing in line with the party constitution because they are scared of me. They know I would disgrace them. The whole country knows that and stands with me against them. We put our people and country first. They are putting the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) and themselves first. What a disgrace. The people will decide which party they want, the real Zanu or this one.
EM: Will that be in the 2018 elections?
DM: We are still in 2015 so let us cross the 2018 bridge when we get there.
EM: Honourable Mutasa, why have you been saying Zanu PF has now lost direction?
DM: What happened in the party before, during and after the controversial December congress is sad and tragic. Zanu PF and Zimbabwe lost a huge opportunity to decide on an orderly and smooth change of the national leadership. Instead of following the principles of the party constitution, which to all intents and purposes were democratic and allowed party members to elect their representatives in all party structures from the cell to the central committee level, the constitution was inappropriately amended to give power to one person to appoint the presidium, politburo and central committee.
That move was unprocedural and undemocratic. The suspensions of provincial chairpersons just before congress were diabolical and illegal. The votes-of-no -confidence on all party leaders allegedly associated with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru smacked of evil agendas, wickedness and were completely out of line with democratic norms. The dismissal of Mujuru and 16 ministers and deputies for being associated with her was callous. The process lacked substance and rationality. From all this, one can see the party has lost direction.
EM: Given all these issues, would you and other disgruntled party members consider working with President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, if called upon to do so?
DM: Only if the party goes back to the pre-congress constitution and the structures that existed then. Our position is very clear: we only recognise President Mugabe who was the only person elected at congress. The rest were appointed based on a flawed process and do not deserve to be where they are.
EM: What will happen if the standoff continues until the next elections scheduled for 2018?
DM: We will cross that bridge when we get there.
EM: How have been your relations with Mugabe been?
DM: My relations with Mugabe have until recently been good and cordial. I had the highest respect for him. I always called him baba (father). I am however devastated by what he has done to himself and the party. His legacy is in ruins and the party of liberation is in tatters and shambles. He now prefers to work with mafikizolos (Johnny-come-latelies) instead of real his comrades-in -arms.
EM: Are you saying the Mugabe of today has changed much from the Mugabe of the 1970s in his leadership style and approach?
DM: The Mugabe of the 1970s and that of today are totally different. The Mugabe of the 70s was dynamic, vibrant and supportive of the comrades. He used to take collective decisions and not individualistic ones like he is now doing. That is why the liberation struggle was successful. But now he listens to lies being propagated by a clique of greedy and power-hungry elements in the party. These mafikizolos are bent on destroying his legacy and the party from within.
EM: What could have influenced Mugabe to change so much as you say?
DM: I do not really know but the political involvement of the First Lady, who has been manipulated by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, has contributed enormously to the pollution of the political environment.
EM: Let us talk about your impending disciplinary hearing. Will you attend it?
DM: If invited, I will attend. But the party has to follow normal procedures of handling internal contradictions. Internal differences in the party are resolved through dialogue, discussions and consensus. One does not resolve party differences through force or coercion and imposition or threats as a person joins the party freely, therefore one does not need to be treated like a criminal. Of concern also is the disciplinary committee, which the politburo appointed.
The committee is supposed to be chaired by the party’s national chairperson and include others like the secretary for legal affairs, and not to just pick anyone.
EM: Since you will attend the hearing if invited, does this mean you will not proceed with your court application to render the congress null and void?
DM: We will go ahead with the application and we are confident that the application will overturn the illegal decisions made at the congress. We hope our court application will have the effect we desire.
EM: But Mugabe has repeatedly pleaded with party members, including yourself, not to approach the courts to settle internal issues. Why do you think he does not want you to resort to the courts?
DM: I honestly don’t know why. What the world needs to know is that we are fighting a just cause. We are not fighting for positions or personal gain.
We are fully aware that we are in the twilight of our political careers. What we want is to leave a legacy of a just and democratic system in Zanu PF and Zimbabwe that our grandchildren will enjoy and be proud of.
EM: Lastly, what would want to say to Zanu PF supporters who are like-minded and believe in the need for a leadership renewal and change?
DM: Our message to the masses that support and believe in us and in our just cause is to remain firm, resolute, patient and focused on principles, values and ideals which made our party and country as great as they have been, particularly during the heydays of our Independence. Never lose hope. The future is bright.