PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe launched a fierce attack on former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) senior official and businessman Munyaradzi Kereke for imposing himself as the Zanu PF candidate in Bikita West in next week’s general elections.
In a fit of rage at a rally in Masvingo yesterday, Mugabe lashed out at Kereke for refusing to withdraw his candidature after being ordered by the politburo to step aside for his former colleague Elias Musakwa.
“We heard that there are three or so people who think they are greater than the party. Even the president is not greater than the party,” Mugabe said, in a thinly veiled attack on Kereke, Marian Chombo and Jonathan Samkange who defied the politburo directive to withdraw.
Last week Mugabe also lambasted Marian Chombo at a rally over the same issue. Mugabe accused Kereke of flouting party regulations and vowed that no amount of money or popular following would ever convince the party leadership to accept him and others back.
In an apparent reference to Kereke, Mugabe described him as “irresponsible, disobedient, non-compliant and disrespectful.”
“If we don’t approve of you; you can’t impose yourself on the people.
We will never accept you even if you have money. We want people who follow party rules and those of the country. I have spoken in parables so those who have ears let them hear,” said Mugabe.
The Kereke issue has divided Masvingo province as Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction is reportedly rooting for RBZ governor Gideon Gono’s former advisor, while the one aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru backs Musakwa.
Mugabe’s remarks follow similar attacks on Kereke he reportedly made in a politburo meeting. The Kereke issue dominated the politburo debate earlier this month amid factional clashes on whether he should be allowed to contest as a “parallel candidate” or be expelled from the party.
As first reported in the Zimbabwe Independent recently, Mugabe reportedly told the politburo he is prepared to lose Bikita West or votes from there over the Kereke issue.
Politburo members aligned to Mujuru demanded that Kereke withdraw or be expelled but he was fiercely defended by members of the Mnangagwa faction.
The Mujuru camp argued Kereke must be dismissed because he was insubordinate, while the Mnangagwa faction pushed that he be allowed to run as a parallel candidate since he was popular on the ground.
The politburo resolved to expel him from the party. Mugabe yesterday vowed Kereke, Marian Chombo and Samkange would not be re-admitted into the party.