HARARE - The nasty factionalism within Zanu PF is escalating into dangerous open warfare, with motor mouth Hurungwe West legislator, Temba Mliswa, spectacularly fingering Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in “Mafia” activities yesterday.
This prompted analysts to predict that this factional war could even turn violent and cause chaos in government.
Mliswa’s stunning accusations also came as Zanu’s main factions led by Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru have intensified the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who at 90 years is showing signs of getting tired.
Speaking at a media conference yesterday, Mliswa, the chairman of Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West Province, also accused Information minister Jonathan Moyo of abusing State media to fight the ruling party’s deadly factional wars.
But it was his damaging claims against Mnangagwa that caught the eye, and which could drive the debilitating intra-Zanu PF fights into another level.
Mliswa stunningly alleged that Mnangagwa had connived with businessman Billy Rautenbach to use members of the Zimbabwe National Army in their mining deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when the country’s military intervened in the DRC’s political crisis just over 15 years ago.
Clarifying his position on the nature of his dealings with Rautenbach, Mliswa accused Moyo of taking advantage of his ministerial position to malign Zanu PF members who were not in his faction.
“I am sure the minister of Information belongs to a certain faction and so he will also attack another faction. l say this boldly. If you also trace his record he has been implicated in factions before, it’s not secret.
“So that is very clear and l will not mince my words. Don’t use the State media to attack people appointed by the president. At the end of the day it is not good. It must stop at some point. Yesterday it was Mutasa, now it’s Mliswa, next it will be His Excellency," a miffed Mliswa fumed.
Asked to clarify which faction and agenda Moyo was pushing, the Hurungwe West legislator claimed that Moyo belonged to the Mnangagwa faction, as evidenced by his participation in the alleged attempted political putsch in 2005 that later came to be known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
Added the former warriors’ fitness trainer: “He (Mnangagwa) established a mafia operation with John Bredenkamp and used our soldiers in DRC and they (army) never got anything in return. Minister Mnangagwa was working with Billy and Bredenkamp at that time.”
Mliswa also vowed to continue fighting the corruption war, saying he would not be intimidated by the State media to be quiet. He said his current crusade against corruption was consistent with both Zanu PF’s and government’s policies aimed at ensuring to that the country’s much-criticised economic blueprint, ZimAsset, worked.
“I am determined as an MP to ensure that the country’s resources, whoever is involved, should account. The ZimAsset will not work without dealing with issues of corruption,” he said.
Elaborating on his business relationship with Rautenbach, Mliswa said they had been business partners, although Rautenbach had later allegedly proved to be dishonest after he got a mining concession with a 30 percent stake at Unki coal mine.
He further alleged that even here, Rautenbach never engaged in any serious business, but merely speculated on the assets before disposing his shares there.
Mliswa vehemently denied allegations that he was an extortionist who wanted to fleece the businessman, as Rautenbach has alleged, saying he had entered into a verbal agreement with Rautenbach in the Unki deal after the latter indicated that he would not get funding from western investors because of the legislator’s Zanu PF connections.
He further claimed that Rautenbach was “a crook that had fled South Africa for economic offences that include fraud import on tariffs”.
“Why then would he claim that l extorted money from him when he landed his helicopter on my farm. Would you really land a helicopter on a farm of someone who is an extortionist?” he asked rhetorically.
Mliswa also said Rautenbach was working “hand in glove” with top government officials, representing the interests of “white Rhodesians”.
“As far as l am concerned, he is the single largest land owner in the country and he is white. He has Mwanesi ranch, 2 000 square kilometres in Chiore. He has got Chisumbanje (30 000 hectares). He owns Sabot and it is now in the hands of foreigners,” Mliswa claimed.
He revealed that he would take the minister of Mines, Walter Chidhakwa, to task on government policy on people who speculate with mineral concessions, saying the country had gained nothing from the Unki deal.
Mliswa went on to tear into Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza, saying Rautenbach bought him an upmarket house in Mutare in return for business favours.
“Unfortunately, Nyabadza has become an Uncle Tom. On the Save Conservancy he was busy fronting whites. Where there are whites involved, he is there. He doesn’t have a spine. He resigned as provincial chairman of Zanu PF to pursue the interests of whites in this country because Zanu PF would certainly compromise his sort of Uncle Tom, Mr Nice Guy amongst the whites,” added Mliswa.
“I thought our position was to take land from whites and give it to the blacks. So where have we shifted as government in terms of policy and that’s our role of oversight?
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said the level and tone of the factionalism in Zanu PF meant that things could only end badly in the party soon.
“The level and extent of factionalism in Zanu PF makes the MDC factionalism look like a Sunday picnic in the Harare Gardens. Things are so bad in Zanu PF that the nation must next expect serious violence and a complete breakdown in government service.
“Judging by what we have seen in the past, we can even expect murders and ordered hits on perceived opponents within the party; things are that bad. The selective, hypocritical and self-serving allegations of corruption are just the beginning of a nasty descent into total anarchy, more so at a time that the economy is not performing,” said Shepard Mntungwa.
Economic analysts who spoke on condition of anonymity said revelations by Mliswa are tantamount to a political confession by Zanu PF that the party is made up of cash vultures.
“Beyond Temba’s hullabaloo, the whole saga tells the story of a nation that allows politicians in Zanu PF to merchandise their public offices. We elect people into these offices so that they can represent the interests of the public. But they turn around and betray that trust by misguiding investors and ultimately depriving the nation of the genuine economic benefits.
“It’s time for change in this country- we need a new political dispensation made up of people whose approach to political administration is not to enrich themselves but to serve the nation. Zanu PF has outlived its political relevance, the economy is on its knees thanks to their draconian approach to wealth redistribution.’