HARARE - In a disturbing start to Zanu PF's anticlimactic congress, the wife of senior politburo member and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Tsitsi, was heckled, harassed and physically abused by rowdy youths at the party’s headquarters in Harare yesterday.
Analysts said the attack was an ominous warning to embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru and all senior party officials perceived to be sympathetic to her — who stand accused of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
The agitated yobs shamefully pushed and harangued Sekeramayi, a mother of seven, in the full glare of assembled journalists — barring her from seeking accreditation for Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that starts in earnest tomorrow (Thursday).
The attack on the ex-Senator for Marondera-Hwedza was described by insiders as part of a co-ordinated and well-choreographed programme by anti-Mujuru party hardliners to stop her accreditation, as well as of all those party members perceived to be loyal to her.
The rowdy youths started a fight with Tsitsi as she went to the accreditation centre at around 10am, accusing her husband of plotting to oust Mugabe from power, together with Mujuru and deposed Mashonaland East chairman Ray Kaukonde.
Some of the youths were shouting “Waifunga uchaita First Lady (You thought you would become First Lady)”.
Tsitsi’s husband, Sydney, has been a loyal member of the ruling party since the 1960s and has held several high-profile posts in both the party and the government since independence in 1980.
A medical doctor by training, and a very humble and reserved person, Sydney has until now been touted as one of the “dark horses” to succeed Mugabe.
The disgraceful haranguing of Tsitsi is said to have caused her husband Sydney to become apoplectic with fury.
While she was not reachable for comment, insiders said she had since lodged a formal complaint with Zanu PF authorities over the assault.
Zanu PF junior spokesman Psychology Maziwisa said, “I’m not aware of anybody who has been barred. I will have to check and get back to you”.
But Maziwisa had earlier said in a statement that “the time has come to put the right people in the right positions and this congress will do just that”.
“Given President Mugabe’s well documented record of working selflessly and diligently to advance the welfare of the Zimbabwean people, it is only right that he should surround himself with innovative and focused people who, like him, are capable of putting national interest ahead of selfish, personal interest.
“It is not an over-exaggeration to say that historians will look back on the Zanu PF 6th National People’s Congress and say this was
Zimbabwe’s turning point. When that happens, and it is as sure to happen as night follows day, we will have President Mugabe to thank for that,” Maziwisa added.
The deputy director of information said “the removal of retrogressive elements from the party was not only necessary but long overdue as a lot of Zanu PF’s and government’s precious time was now being wasted on unproductive plots”.
“The purging is therefore not just in the party’s best interest; it is in the nation’s best interest as well.
“Only unreasonable people would see the removal of bad apples as something that could spell catastrophic consequences for the party.
Quite the opposite, Zanu PF will come out of this congress more united and better able to tackle some of the greatest economic challenges of our time,” he said.
A senior politburo member condemned the attack against Tsitsi Sekeramayi, saying such thuggery was “a threat to the peace” at congress and created fertile conditions for heightened intra-party tensions and strife.
A central committee member also expressed his deep concern and said “everyone” was deeply worried about the descend into thuggery and the deterioration of human rights and the rule of law within the party.
He expressed concern about the welfare of Zanu PF, adding that there was also concern that confidence that the ruling party was a true catalyst for democracy and stability in Zimbabwe was no longer there.
He said the assault on Tsitsi was “a repercussion of the constant hate-speech being spewed in the party”, adding that the assault should be investigated thoroughly.
“We deplore this act of violence against Mrs Sekeramayi and call on the party authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to condemn the assault,” said another central committee member.
“We surely cannot allow thuggery to prevail,” he added.