THE readmission of former Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum) leader Edgar Tekere to Zanu PF from which he was fired 15 years ago will be a direct challenge to President Robert
Mugabe’s ego, ruling party insiders said this week.
Zanu PF veterans say Mugabe launched a personal crusade to ensure Tekere, an ex-ruling party secretary-general, was sacked because he persistently criticised his party for corruption and tyranny.
Prior to his dismissal, Tekere had attacked the “vampire class” around Mugabe and warned that democracy was in the “intensive care unit” because of Zanu PF’s one-party state drive.
Zanu PF officials say Mugabe made it his personal business to fire Tekere at all costs.
They say matters came to a head on October 21, 1988 when Mugabe finally confronted Tekere at a central committee meeting at State House.
“There was a drama on that day,” a Zanu PF official said. “Mugabe personally tabled a motion demanding that Tekere be fired on the spot for his criticism of the party.
“But Tekere protested and asked for an adjournment of the issue to prepare his defence,” the official said. “Mugabe rejected that but some senior party cadres joined Tekere in his protest. The late Robert Marere and Moven Mahachi backed Tekere.”
Marere, a former Public Construction and National Housing deputy minister, died recently, while Mahachi, ex-Defence minister, died two years ago.
“The issue of Tekere’s expulsion was then put to a vote and the meeting backed his dismissal. However, 15 senior party officials voted against it,” the official recalled.
Tekere left the meeting in a tantrum amid a volley of expletives.
“However, we were surprised to see him come back shortly after, carrying a pile of Chronicle newspaper editions that he distributed to the meeting,” the official said.
“The newspaper contained a story about the Willowgate scandal. Tekere then told the meeting: ‘This is what I’m being fired for’. Immediately after that he left. It was a big embarrassment to Mugabe.”
The Willowgate scandal exposed a racket in which ministers bought vehicles from Willowvale Motor Industries which they resold at inflated prices for personal gain.
Sources said Mugabe vowed Tekere would never be readmitted to Zanu PF. But two months down the line, Mugabe arranged for a private one-on-one meeting with Tekere on December 15, 1988 at State House. The late Zanu PF heavyweight Maurice Nyagumbo was later called in as an observer.
“At that meeting Mugabe asked Tekere to write a letter to the central committee asking for a review of his dismissal but he refused. Tekere insisted that Mugabe should reverse the expulsion because it was his personal action,” a senior Zanu PF member who was present at the time said.
“In the end, the two failed to agree and Tekere went away for good, or so it seemed. Now that he has been readmitted to the party most people who were there during that time see this as a direct rebuke to Mugabe. It is an attack on his personal ego because Tekere has proved indestructible.”
Soon afterwards, Tekere formed Zum and contested the 1990 presidential poll against Mugabe but lost. He abandoned the now defunct Zum in 2000. Tekere has however remained critical of Zanu PF.
Zanu PF external affairs secretary Didymus Mutasa recently said Tekere, a former Minister of Manpower, Planning and Development, had been readmitted to the party because “we want him back”. Tekere said although he was prepared to return to the Zanu PF fold this was yet to be formalised. His return has been linked to the escalating succession battles in the party.