HARARE - Former Zanu PF politburo member Simba Makoni has savaged President Robert Mugabe’s party as a lawless organisation, saying its brutal factional dogfights would continue well beyond the party’s damp squib “elective” congress slated for next week.
And in a thinly-veiled attack on Mugabe’s wife, Grace, the former finance minister and leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) also slammed the practice of “phone call” degrees which, he said, were devaluing once-revered institutions of higher learning.
Speaking at a media conference in Harare yesterday, Makoni said by expelling and suspending the majority of its senior party officials who were perceived to be sympathetic to embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru, Zanu PF had demonstrated “beyond any doubt” that its leaders did not respect the rule of law.
“I am not expecting anything to change in Zanu PF (after congress), the dogfights will continue. The competition for positions will also continue.
“Weevils will eat the Gamatox and that is not the end of it. It is the first time Weevils have eaten Gamatox, but the battles will continue,” he said.
With Mugabe turning 91 in three months’ time, the ruling party has witnessed an unprecedented orgy of chaos and violence, which has resulted in brutal purges of all officials linked to Mujuru — who until now was touted as Mugabe’s heir-apparent.
But a well-orchestrated smear campaign against the 59-year-old widow, primarily driven by Grace, supporters of Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the State media, has seen her failing even to forward her nomination for a seat in the party’s powerful central committee.
Among the extreme allegations that the beleaguered VP has had to put up with over the past few weeks are sensational claims that she and her close allies have been plotting to oust and assassinate her nonagenarian boss.
Some of her key allies who have since fallen by the wayside include suspended former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and the now expelled former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.
Makoni said the fact that the ruling party took drastic measures against those sympathetic to Mujuru was ample testament that Zanu PF did not respect the rule of law.
“If you take the so-called suspension of Rugare Gumbo for example, it should have been taken to the disciplinary committee and yet that was not done.
“This confirms the lack of the rule of law in Zanu PF. From the rise of Grace to the suspension of Gumbo, Zanu PF is telling us that this is a lawless organisation,” he said.
Makoni said after watching 90 percent of Zanu PF’s elected provincial chairpersons being suspended, it was now clear that the majority within the party had been disenfranchised, with the party now under the control of “a small coterie of praise singers”.
Describing the unrestrained State media onslaught on Mujuru and her family as “desperate”, the former Sadc executive secretary also said this was a clear sign of a party that was now rudderless.
He described as “pathetic” the fact that a fatal car accident involving the VP’s daughter, that occurred two years ago, had now been dusted up just to “soil” Mujuru’s name.
Makoni, who ditched the ruling party in 2008 to contest as an independent candidate and garnering eight percent of the vote in that year’s disputed presidential poll that was won by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said it was a shame that countless other heavyweights in the ruling party who were involved in real and worse scandals were being left untouched.
“This demonstrates the emptiness in Zanu PF. It demonstrates the shallowness in Zanu PF and it also demonstrates the crassness of (State media) journalism, especially those who wrote the (vehicle accident) story.
“This is not about Chipo Mujuru, it is about the bankruptcy in Zanu PF,” he said.
Chipo Mujuru-Makoni is married to Sebastian Makoni, who is related to the former finance minister.
And in a thinly-disguised attack on Grace’s controversially-attained doctorate degree, Makoni said the government should not waste resources building more universities as planned by the Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in his $4,1 billion budget announced on Thursday, when all now it took was “a phone call to get one”.
He said standards at local institutions of higher learning such as the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) had fallen drastically in recent years, with a “phone call” sufficing for a person to be granted a doctorate degree.
Grace defied all expectations when she graduated with her Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) at the University of Zimbabwe in September this year, after reportedly completing her first degree in the Chinese Language only in 2011.
Before then, she had failed dismally in her long distance studies with a UK university, one of the reasons that there are lingering doubts about whether she registered for and completed her PhD degree course legitimately.
Asked if there was going to be any change in the country’s economic trajectory after the Zanu PF congress next week, Makoni said ruefully it was “suffer continue” for poverty-stricken Zimbabweans.