'Mugabe had become a threat to liberation legacy'

HARARE - Former Zanu PF politburo member and Mavambo Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni says he was inspired to form his political outfit because President Robert Mugabe had become a threat to the legacy of the liberation struggle.

Makoni a former Cabinet minister in Mugabe’s government including the much vaunted war Cabinet of 2000, said events leading to Zanu PF’s 2007 congress and formation of Mavambo were meant to secure the relevance of the former liberation party in the future.

In an interview with the state media at the weekend, Makoni said MKD was formed by disgruntled Zanu PF volunteers fed up with Mugabe’s failure to embrace change.

“Its (Mavambo’s) origins were the conversations for change within Zanu PF. When the efforts were thwarted finally at the 2007 extraordinary congress, those of us who believed and I tell you many people believed that if Mugabe stood against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a Zanu PF candidate, he would be beaten.

“That was an open secret. Those of us who saw the danger of not only the candidate (Mugabe) but the party being defeated and the legacy of the struggle, self-determination and the legacy of our true selves being threatened by resistance to change, we realised that making change from within was impossible,” Makoni said.

Makoni said there was a realisation within Zanu PF that personalities needed to be changed if the party was to survive, given the experiences of other liberation political parties in other countries such as Kenya African National Union (Kanu) in Kenya, United National Independence Party (UNIP) in Zambia and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in Malawi.

“The majority of members believed that if Mugabe stood, Zanu PF would lose the mandate of the people...,” he said.

Mugabe went on to lose the first round of the March 2008 elections to Tsvangirai although he did not garner enough votes to take over the presidency of the country.

A resultant run off poll marred by violence handed back power to Mugabe in controversial circumstances after Tsvangirai opted out citing unprecedented violent attacks on his supporters.

Makoni added that discussions on change within Zanu PF had begun a long time ago.

“I was involved in discussions about change within the party dating back to the 90s. It was time when things changed not only in the country but the region and world at large."

“Then it was change of direction not personalities, the looting of the war veterans fund in the late 90s, the Willowgate scandal in 1989, the Berlin War collapsed, Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 and Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) was launched here in 1992.

“This warranted a party leading a country to change course,” said Makoni.

He added that when no change took place in Zanu PF leadership after the 2006 Goromonzi conference and the 2007 congress, he was left convinced changing Zanu PF was an impossible task.

Another former Zanu PF stalwart, Dumiso Dabengwa revealed last week the late vice president Joseph Msika had pleaded in a politburo meeting for another chance to choose candidates following Mugabe’s “endorsement” by the party’s 10 provinces.

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