HARARE - War veteran and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, says he and his comrades made a grave error during the country’s liberation struggle when they chose President Robert Mugabe to lead the then Zanu.
Speaking at a Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) debate forum on Thursday night, Gumbo said he and most of his erstwhile Zanu PF comrades were now all regretting that mistake as Mugabe was “obsessed with power” and hellbent on creating a “Gushungo dynasty”.
Gumbo was brutally purged from the warring Zanu PF in late 2014, along with former Vice President Joice Mujuru and former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa — all of whom are now leading players in ZPF which is set to take the ruling party head-on in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
The purged senior Zanu PF officials were accused of the serious, but untested charges of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe — allegations that Gumbo said many current ruling party bigwigs now also regretted not having spoken against.
“The mistake which they (current Zanu PF leadership) made, which they are now regretting is that they purged the top echelon of Zanu PF, the top organisers of Zanu PF — the chairman, the provincial administrators and so on.
“So, instead of getting the right people to fill these posts once they removed the top layer, they just uplifted the lower layers, some perhaps without any credentials or ideological orientation of what is happening, because they were just handpicked.
“So when they took over, they knew no other idea except votes of no confidence. So, that is exactly what is happening,” Gumbo said.
Commenting on the “unfortunate” appointment of Mugabe as the party’s leader following the death of Herbert Chitepo, he said the latter nationalist’s death had left a vacuum which had led to a leadership crisis — leading to Mugabe’s appointment.
“Unfortunately, that’s where our mistakes came. Instead of us looking internally amongst ourselves, we decided we needed Mugabe … and I must apologise to you, which I have done before. It was partly my mistake, I pretended to know Mugabe more than these other people and I said he is the right person for the leadership,” Gumbo said.
He said as soon as Mugabe took over the party’s leadership, it became apparent that all he wanted was power.
“So in 1980, I made a statement … I said guys we are dealing with a monster and we are going to suffer, but because of the euphoria of independence and the celebrations that were taking place, no one talked about it,” Gumbo said.
“Then he started a new agenda that is the Gushungo dynasty. That is what is killing us. The issue of succession cannot succeed because he wants his relative, wife, whatever it is to take over.
“He used to say I can’t leave because my party is going to split, it’s going to be destroyed … but the reality of the matter is that he always had his own agenda and the agenda is to develop the Gushungo dynasty,” he added.
Speaking on how he felt when he came back from Mozambique after enduring years in Zanu dungeons, the fearless Gumbo said: “We were being tortured and one day when he (Mugabe) came I had been assaulted and my eyes were red … and the guy just laughed and passed”.