PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe gave the clearest indication yet at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare yesterday, after his remarks on Tuesday at a parliamentary luncheon, that he is backing his wife Grace and the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction in their bid to oust Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the forthcoming crucial December congress.
Upon his arrival for a crunch politburo meeting which lasted nine-and-half hours, Mugabe was whisked into the party building through the basement as the main entrance was blocked by party supporters wielding placards denouncing Mujuru.
“Who Ran Down Farmers World”, “Dr 10%, Bring Back Profits From Tongaat Hullet”, “Pasi neDemon Refactionalism”, “What A Pretentious Cadre”, “Pasi ne10%”, read some of the placards in reference to allegations being levelled against Mujuru concerning her alleged abuse of office and corruption which only surfaced when the plot to topple her was devised.
The politburo yesterday resolved that a commission of inquiry be set up to investigate factionalism and Mujuru.
Addressing the rented crowd after over an hour in the building, Mugabe also took a swipe at war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda and other Mujuru loyalists such as Mashonaland East chairperson Ray Kaukonde and Mashonaland West’s Temba Mliswa over the infighting.
Mugabe was seemingly frothing to the mouth at Sibanda for attacking Grace and the Mnangagwa faction for saying the First Lady’s endorsement as Women’s League head nominee was a political “fraud”.
Although he was measured in his attacks as compared to Grace and Mnangagwa camp activists, Mugabe all but endorsed the removal of Mujuru when he said “when a marriage breaks down, a divorced wife is given time to pack instead of chasing her on the spur of the moment”.
He said this to a boisterous clamour among the youths and war veterans bussed from all provinces to the Zanu PF headquarters in Zupco and Swift buses. The hired crowd waved anti-Mujuru camp placards, demanding that she resigns immediately.
Zanu PF officials aligned to the Mnangagwa faction such as Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Wadyajena, Women’s League security secretary Shuvai Mahofa and Harare youth chairperson Godfrey Gomwe were part of the gathering while Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba stole the limelight in leading the attacks on Sibanda.
Led by Gomwe and Chinotimba, who exhibited his dancing skills on stage, youths chanted slogans and performed songs castigating Mujuru for hours, while politburo members were gathered on the 14th floor for the meeting.
Some of the songs were abusive. “Zimbuya reDotito zimuroyi,” (the old lady from Dotito is a witch), sang the crowd referring to Mujuru who hails from Dotito in Mount Darwin.
The demonstration was also punctuated by derogatory sloganeering: “Pasi neGamatox” (down with gamatox), a slogan that was popularised by Grace during her whirlwind “Meet-the-People” rallies where she hysterically denounced Mujuru, accusing her of abuse office, subversion and corruption, among other things.
Mugabe, who had earlier avoided the demonstrators, later came to address the crowd accompanied by secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, a Mujuru ally. Mutasa, who resolutely refused to chant the “down with gamatox” slogan, was booed by the protesters and prevented from introducing Mugabe.
Mugabe said Mujuru must be given time just as a “divorced wife” is given an opportunity to pack her belongings to prepare for a different life after marriage.
The crowd had earlier gone into overdrive when they saw Mugabe arrive, vociferously hurling crude insults at Mujuru and Mutasa, whom they called “Gamatox”.
Mugabe spat venom on Sibanda, who was conspicuous by his absence, saying he was “possessed by the Devil’s spirit”.
He said the war veterans’ chief was fighting in his enemies’ corner after he had been bought half a dozen vehicles by businessman and Zanu PF Mbire MP, David Butau, a known Mujuru ally.
“Arasa gwara chose. (He has lost the way),” Mugabe said.
“Ko hondo yaari kutaura ihondo yamuka papi yaari kuda kurwa iye Jabulani. Saka ndiye ari kuda kuita hondo nemasoja angu! Ko ndingade kuzvionaka kuti ari kuironga rinhi hondo yacho. (What war does he want to fight! He and him alone against my soldiers! I dare him to do so),” Mugabe said to loud cheers from his supporters.
The veteran leader said Sibanda “was now possessed by the Devil”.
Mugabe further accused the outspoken war veteran leader of turning himself into a de facto ruler of the country.
He went further to order war veterans to regroup and choose a new leader who is committed to Zanu PF’s revolutionary ideals.
“Can we now say he is the country’s ruler,” Mugabe said after accusing Sibanda of blocking party supporters from attending one of the party’s gatherings.
“Jabulani anofunga kuti iye zvaataura; ahh mubati wemheni (Jabulani thinks that whatever he says goes; because he thinks he is omnipotent when he is just a war veteran).”
Mugabe was interrupted during his speech by agitated supporters who declared that Sibanda was not a genuine war veteran.
“Haasi? (Is he not?) He is fake? Saka vana (Joseph) Chinotimba makamubvumirei (So why did Chinotimba and other war veterans allow him to masquerade as a war veteran)”
Ironically, Sibanda has in the past campaigned for Mugabe during elections to the point of nearly having a fall-out with his then deputy Joseph Msika and former party chairperson John Nkomo at the Zanu PF extraordinary congress in December 2007.