FORMER cabinet minister and Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai had spoken of his joy over Zanu PF’s “historic victory” less than two days before he collapsed at his Glen Forest home in Harare and died before being admitted at a private clinic.
Kangai died last Saturday morning, barely 48 hours after attending President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration at the National Sports Stadium last Thursday in Harare.
Kangai spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of Mugabe’s inauguration saying his party’s electoral victory, which the opposition MDC parties disputes alleging vote rigging among other anomalies, had given Zanu PF carte blanche to vigorously implement development-oriented programmes without any hindrance from other political parties.
During the interview, the visibly ill Kangai struggled to speak and spent long moments gazing into space as if trying to recollect his thoughts. His responses were laboured and at times lacked fluency and coherence, while his lips would move without him uttering a word before getting back to normal.
“It is historic in the sense that it gives Zanu PF a clear mandate to finally implement its people-centred programmes of indigenisation and empowering the majority who have not fully benefitted from the country’s economic resources,” said Kangai.
Zanu PF won with more than a two-thirds majority in the July 31 general elections described by the MDC formations as a farce characterised by rigging, intimidation and disenfranchisement of thousands of potential voters.
But Kangai dismissed these claims saying Zanu PF had “learnt from its mistakes in 2008” and engaged in a co-ordinated and united campaign predicated on its commitment to ordinary Zimbabweans’ development needs hence the “historic victory”.
During the inauguration proceedings, Kangai sat next to his fellow member of Zanu PF’s 1970s Dare reChimurenga and current party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo.
Questions on his role in Zanu PF’s war-time Dare reChimurenga, which co-ordinated the party’s war campaign from Zambia while leaders such as Mugabe, Enos Nkala, Edgar Tekere and others were in prison, drew blanks from Kangai who seemed distracted with his face registering involuntary twitches.
Kangai and Gumbo were in the Dare reChimurenga led by Herbert Chitepo until his death in 1975 after a bomb attack which Mugabe blamed on the Ian Smith-led Rhodesian government.
The then Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda blamed in-fighting in Zanu and even had Kangai, Gumbo, Josiah Tongogara and others imprisoned after an international commission of inquiry he had set up suggested tribal animosities had led to Chitepo’s assassination.
Kangai was Zimbabwe’s first minister of labour. He held other cabinet posts in a controversy-tainted political career, facing corruption charges during his tenure as agriculture minister in 2000 –– a development that led to his arrest before he was eventually acquitted by the courts.
Gumbo said Kangai’s death was a loss to the party while Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, said he died a happy man after Zanu PF’s election victory in which he had been elected senator for Buhera in Manicaland.