DEPUTY Justice minister and Mazowe South legislator Fortune Chasi’s recent fall-out with First Lady Grace Mugabe took a new twist this week amid revelations that President Robert Mugabe was misled by party bigwigs in Mashonaland Central province about his involvement in a case in which villagers are challenging their eviction from Manzou Game Park.
Zanu PF insiders said the youth members told Mugabe last week on Wednesday at a meeting at State House that Grace had been misinformed by senior party officials in the province that Chasi was against her acquiring more land in Mazowe to build a university and secondary school.
“They (bigwigs) lied to Grace that Chasi was against the expansion of Grace’s empire in Mazowe. They also said he influenced the villagers who were evicted from Manzou Game Park to approach the courts,” said a youth member.
“We told the president the truth and it is up to him now to talk to Chasi because he is a victim of circumstances. We understand that the grudge developed during the election of candidates to represent the province in the Youth League. We felt it was our task to brief the president on the exact problem so that Chasi can be exonerated because the problem started during the selection of candidates for the Youth League in Mashonaland Central. Chasi was very vocal on the unsuitability of certain candidates for the Youth League who were being backed by the bigwigs.”
Sources in Mashonaland Central province said Chasi is just an innocent victim who is being attacked because “he does not want to do things the Zanu PF way — that is patronage politics”.
The sources said Chasi at one time advised the Youth League that one of their members, Dugmore Chimukoko, had pending criminal cases. This did not go down well with the bigwigs who decided to tell the First Family that he was behind the court challenges by the villagers.
“Chimukoko was said to have pending criminal cases and according to Chasi, was not eligible to contest because of the strict Zanu PF guidelines,” said another source.
Chimukoko, who was backed by senior party officials aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp from the province, went on to contest the elections which he lost to Ratidzai Marumahoko.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that Chimukoko was found guilty of five criminal cases, which include three cases of assault, disregard of the law and attempted rape. The offences were committed between August 2008 and March 2009.
According to court papers (CA903/09), Chimukoko was convicted on four counts on his own plea of guilty and sentenced to a total of two years imprisonment. He, however, was later released on bail.
During his trial, magistrates at Bindura Magisrates Court recused themselves from hearing the cases citing fear for their personal security. While addressing the youths who had gone to endorse her candidature for the top Women’s League post in the party, Grace accused Chasi of terrorising her.
“In this constituency where we are, we have a new MP, and I don’t know him well, but his name is Chasi. He is a problem to me,” she said, sending party youths to break into song and dance calling for war against the deputy minister.
Chasi refused to comment on the matter.
“As I said last week, I am not at liberty to say anything at this time. I have insisted this to all media houses that I will not comment on the allegations,” Chasi said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Chimukoko said he has nothing to do with Chasi’s attack by Grace.
“I have nothing to do with that because I am not a member of his constituency,” Chimukoko said.
“Chasi tried to stop me from contesting in the provincial youth elections but I did not listen to him. He should just sort his mess with the First Family,” he said.