Mnangagwa grilled over UPM links

Dumisani Muleya

EMMERSON Mnangagwa has been summoned by a senior cabinet minister acting on behalf of President Robert Mugabe to grill him over his reported links to the United People’s Movement (UPM).
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Official sources said Mnangagwa, who is Rural Housing minister and the ruling Zanu PF’s legal affairs secretary, was initially summoned in August and again early this month on the basis of reports to Mugabe about the UPM.


The UPM is said to be an emerging political movement linked to Mnangagwa and former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, as well as senior Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members.


“Mnangagwa was summoned a by senior cabinet minister acting on behalf of the president over the UPM issue. The first meeting was in August and the second one earlier this month,” a source said.


“There is a great deal of panic in official circles about the UPM which seems to be a reincarnation of the Tsholotsho faction. State resources have been deployed to monitor the activities of the UPM and those said to be linked to it,” said the source.


Mnangagwa could not discuss the issue yesterday, referring the Zimbabwe Independent to those said to have summoned him. “Speak to the person who was said to have met me,” he said.


About three weeks ago Mnangagwa denied involvement in the UPM.


“I have never heard about UPM. It is stupid to suggest that I would be its president when I am not even aware that there is such a political party,” he said. “Nobody has ever approached me to join such a party and I will not be part of it.”


Reports of Mnangagwa’s questioning came as four officials of the MDC in provincial structures resigned in protest against the party’s infighting, amid claims that they had been recruited by the UPM.


Sources last night named those who resigned from the MDC as SM Mandaza, organising secretary for Mashonaland East province and Mutoko North candidate during the March general election, G Rice, S Chiota and a B Mfuka, organising secretary for MDC’s Mashonaland Central province and a parliamentary election candidate in the March poll.


The MDC members cited the party’s internal strife and its failure to deal with government over the widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina as reasons for their resignations.


In a letter dated October 17 to MDC chairman Isaac Matongo, Mandaza cited “endless squabbles, personality clashes and infighting” in the party as his reasons for resignation.


“It is with a heavy heart that I’m writing this letter to inform you that I have decided to resign from the MDC with immediate effect,” Mandaza said.


“The MDC has not grown to the kind of a political party it sought to be at the beginning and is now disintegrating under the weight of endless squabbles, personality clashes, and all kinds of infighting taking place at Harvest House.”


A few months ago, a senior Zanu PF central committee member and ex-MP Pearson Mbalekwa quit the ruling party over Murambatsvina, which involved the demolition of shanties and informal businesses.


Mnangagwa’s summoning revived memories of the post-Tsholotsho backlash against Mnangagwa and his group. The saga led to the downfall of ministers like Jonathan Moyo and July Moyo. There were also other high-profile political casualties of the turbulent power struggle.

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