Zanu PF factions fight in court

MUTARE - Zanu PF factionalism, which threatens to derail President Robert Mugabe’s quest for another term in office, played out at the Mutare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday in signs that matters are coming to a head as elections beckon.

Two provincial officials in court for allegedly stealing beasts meant for Mugabe’s birthday party last year yesterday said the matter was driven by factionalism, suggesting faction leaders are using the case to trash each other.

Tinofara Hove, a lawyer representing the two officials, all but confirmed that faction leaders were directing operations to nail Mike Madiro and Dorothy Mabika, who face nine years each in jail if convicted on stock theft charges.

The trial entered its second day yesterday with two more Zanu PF members John Chirimambowa and Angawashe Nelia Maenda incriminating former Manicaland provincial chairperson Madiro and acting chairperson Mabika on stock theft charges.

Chirimambowa, who is a farmer and the Zanu PF provincial secretary for production and labour, told Mutare magistrate Lucy Anne Mungwari that the 10 beasts he sold to the party for $5 000 were meant to be slaughtered at Mugabe’s 88th birthday bash held at Sakubva Stadium last year.

The beasts remained at Chirimambowa’s farm instead of being surrendered to the party for the celebrations.

Chirimambowa said he was “relieved” when the police eventually got to know about the “stolen” beasts.

“I became a liberated man and relieved when the police started to make investigations and when they were in the picture that I was with the Zanu PF cattle,” said Chirimambowa.

But the pair’s defence lawyer Tinofara Hove shot back and told the court the two were victims of factionalism in Zanu PF.

“This is a political game in Zanu PF to discredit Mabika and Madiro by implicating and plotting against them to destroy them politically. I put it to this court that all the allegations are just some of the machinations to persecute the two,” said Hove.

Chirimambowa said he was still keeping the beasts at his farm, adding he had been paid but “owners” of the beasts had not come to claim them.

He disputed the assertion by Hove that the fact the cattle were still at his farm meant he had stolen them. Chirimambowa had to be advised not to be emotional under cross examination from Hove after he questioned Hove’s credentials as a lawyer.

“I am not the thief. The thieves could be the senior party officials in the dock who instructed me to wait until further notice on what to do next with the cattle without taking them to their final destination,” retorted Chirimambowa.

Chirimambowa said the two were not victims of factionalism and infighting as alleged by Hove but had to be answerable for their actions.

“I don’t agree with political victimisation because if one abuses the power they have, they will have to face the music,” said Chirimambowa.

Hove claimed Chirimambowa was part of the grand stage of machinations to persecute the two, an allegation he denied.

“If you knew where this case started, you would not say what you are saying to me. I am not involved at all. This matter came from high up, I wish you knew,’ said Chirimambowa.

Chirimambowa said it was not his duty to keep the animals at his farm on behalf of Zanu PF, adding the beasts were supposed to have been slaughtered at the birthday bash.

He said Mabika later gave an instruction that three of the 10 beasts had to be slaughtered to feed guests at an inter-district conference held at Marymount Teachers’ College last year.

Maenda, the acting Zanu PF provincial administrator and the party’s secretary for production and labour in the women’s league, implicated Mabika for ordering her and another employee at the Zanu PF provincial offices in Mutare, Lucy Golowa to alter minutes of a meeting to cover tracks of the alleged theft.

Maenda stunned the court when she revealed that Mabika personally came to the offices and instructed her and Golowa to change minutes of a meeting held on December 14, 2012 at Rowa Training Centre.

She told the court that Mabika instructed her to use Golowa’s computer to add issues not discussed at Rowa Training Centre.

“What was altered on the instructions of Mabika was so shocking that I had to inform the party’s provincial secretary for administration Kenneth Saruchera and the party secretary for transport and welfare, David Momberume,” said Maenda.

She said the amendments to the minutes had to do with three calves.

Maenda told the court that Golowa later showed her a text message from Mabika with instructions to look for minutes of November, 21 2012 which had information on the 10 beasts and the three missing calves with a view to alter them, Maenda told the court.

Maenda testified that Madiro had also given her instructions that the 10 beasts be transported to Zanu PF councillor for Ward 25 Peter Dombropoulos’ farm in Odzi.

Hove, who focused on persecution of his clients by senior party officials, said Golowa’s evidence was meant to discredit Mabika and politically destroy her as desired by a faction within Zanu PF.

“You are part of the grand scheme in this political game to discredit the accused as you stand to benefit in person,” alleged Hove.

Maenda denied she had anything to gain on the fall from grace of the two.

“I have no reason to hate, plot and implicate them as I am not against them. We have worked well together and there is nothing for me to gain from their political demise. I also do not in any way dream of becoming the vice chair of the province one day,” retorted Maenda.

The matter was adjourned to today for continuation of trial. Jane Rose Matsikidze appeared for the State. - Sydney Saize

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