A white Ford Ranger truck suddenly screeches to a halt in front of this reporter, drawing the attention of vendors and passersby in the Graniteside industrial area on a Monday afternoon.
The driver — the recently suspended Zanu PF youth league national political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu — signals for this reporter to jump in.
Casting his eyes around as if checking for lurking danger, he says with a low voice, uncharacteristic of the firebrand youthful politician: “They are out for me, but I am not afraid. A fighter is never afraid of death”.
Tsenengamu was, along with Lewis Matutu — a colleague in the youth league — suspended from the party for a year after the politburo found them guilty of breaching protocol and procedure.
This was after they had publicly accused businessmen Kuda Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara — all considered Zanu PF benefactors — of engaging in corruption.
“I have been receiving endless calls from unknown people threatening me with unspecified action and I believe they are following me everywhere I go,” he says as he reclined in his seat.
“Right now, I am on my way to the party headquarters to surrender their vehicle. I was not born driving free cars and I will not die from not driving one,” he says.
This is not the first time Tsenengamu has found himself in the line of fire.In 2016, along with six other Zanu PF provincial youth league leaders, the youth leader confronted the late former president Robert Mugabe and his widow Grace, an unthinkable act at the time, given the imperial powers the Mugabes enjoyed then.
Tsenengamu was, again the main speaker at an event at which they lashed out at Grace without pulling any punches, accusing her of usurping power from her husband and sowing divisions in the party.
This infuriated Mugabe, who responded by getting them kicked out of Zanu PF. They were re-admitted into the party two years later after Mugabe was elbowed out in a military coup which saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa assuming the throne.
Now, they are believed to be part of a cast in Zanu PF which is getting increasingly agitated by Mnangagwa’s failure to tame corruption and rein in cartels bleeding the economy.
Tsenengamu said he will continue with the anti-corruption crusade, notwithstanding the prospect of death; moreso, now he has been freed of the party leash.
Plucking a leaf from William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1606-07) he said: “You can only kill the messenger and not the message. I will continue with the anti-corruption drive.”
He sits up in his seat as he starts to relax. When asked whether or not he had solicited for bribes from the concerned businessmen, he lets out a sarcastic laugh before making a counter accusation.
“Actually efforts are being made to put me on mute, but like I have stated before, I can never be silenced by 30 pieces of silver,” Tsenengamu says. “I was arrested five times. I have had 10 serious charges levelled against me and the new dispensation came to my rescue. If you know, charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government attract as severe a punishment as death. I was also accused of undermining the authority of the president, intimidating and threatening the (then) first family; all sort of charges, so that I can toe the line, but because I have a conscience, I could not do so and I will still not do so, even at the point of the barrel.”
Sinking back into his reclined seat, legs on the dashboard, he says: “I have already indicated the next move. I am joining hands with other young men and women to rescue our future and that of our children from these corrupt cartels. This will be happening starting next week Friday when we converge in Harare to make a bold anti-corruption declaration. As you know, this will be a public holiday for youths and we thought it would be befitting to do so on that day.”
Having lost full-time employment in the party, he says fending for his family is the least of his worries since it means he is only joining a long list of unemployed youths.
There are many unemployed youths in the country and I am only adding to that statistic.”There is widespread belief that Tsenengamu is a pawn in a major political chess game. Some have gone to the extent of labelling him a puppet and insist there is a puppeteer holding strings, but the firebrand youth leader denies the assertion.
“Like I have said many times before, I represent myself and not any institution or any other person. I express my own views.”Following his ouster from the party, Tsenengamu says his conscience remains clear as he is fighting a just cause which will benefit future generations.
He says Zimbabweans should reject and stand up against corruption at all levels.At this point, one of his two smartphones rings and it is time to say goodbye.
“Unfortunately, my brother, I have to go. I have a meeting with some of my colleagues and they are reminding me that I am late, so I have to go.”