HARARE - Firebrand war veteran and former Zanu PF bigwig, Margaret Dongo, says President Robert Mugabe and the ruling party are "finished" — pointing to the former liberation movement's brutal factional and succession wars, as well as the increasingly frail nonagenarian's "grim determination" to hold on to power as evidence of this.
The fearless Dongo, who turned 56 yesterday, told the Daily News in an interview that the ugly ructions that were devouring the ruling party marked the "end of an era", and were also all a conseqence of Mugabe's "fatal love" for power.
“I left Zanu PF in 1995, and watching from the terraces, I am seeing people fighting for a dwindling gravy puddle. The party is a sinking ship and it’s all about who has power now to access more of the little loot left before the inevitable big bang.
“Of course, I still see most of them (Mugabe's underlyings) as cowards because they all know the source of the party's and country's problems. As you know, a fish rots from the head, but none of them will ever have the guts to say so in public, or even within their structures,” the former Harare South legislator said.
Dongo, who is a founder member of the warring Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) in 1989 — which was set up to secure the rights of marginalised former liberation struggle fighters — said Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country's independence from Britain in April 1980, was at the heart of all problems being experienced.
“Zanu PF's so-called one-centre of power was also facilitated by some selfish leaders within the party who wanted to please him, so that he keeps on protecting them while they loot.
"I urge the opposition to take lessons from these developments and shun such autocratic approaches to leadership. The sad fact is that Mugabe's rule is autocratic and selfish.
"There is absolutely nothing good that can come from him and Zanu PF, as his every action only serves to perpetuate his stay in power and the misery of Zimbabweans. Remember that even the so-called fast-track land reforms were a survival tactic against a rising opposition,” she said.
Commenting on the current state of the economy, where up to 90 percent of the country's adult population was unemployed, Dongo said it would be "totally insane" to expect Zanu PF to take the country out of its quagmire.
“The country's economy is not even in the intensive care unit, it’s actually on its way to the mortuary,” Dongo charged.
In that light, she said, there was an urgent need for other people and multilateral organisations to come in and help the country, as Zanu PF could not "do it".
“You just need to look at all the companies that have folded and the savannah grass that now grows in the industrial areas to confirm this.
"The 90 percent unemployment obtaining in the country, the starving masses that the government is unable to feed, the dilapidated infrastructure all-around, the serious shortage of drugs, deteriorating education standards, poor sanitary facilities are all a result of Zanu PF's misrule,” Dongo lamented.
She also bemoaned the country’s "continuing skewed political playing field", where Zanu PF always tended to unleashing violence on opposition political parties when its hold on power was threatened.
She spoke after the inaugural open rally of former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s party, the Zimbabwe People First, was disrupted by violent Zanu PF supporters in Harare's Glen View high density suburb over the weekend.
“For as long as Zanu PF abuses its access to State resources and institutions, we shall continue to experience this unequal playing field in this country. Remember, Zanu PF also wants to use the police for its own ends against the opposition. This is both unlawful and unfair,” Dongo said.
She commended Mujuru’s “brave” decision to form ZPF, adding that despite Zimbabwe being a patriarchal society, the former VP had what it takes to successfully fight for power and lead the country.
“However, I continue to be disheartened by the population's apparent apathy to anything that is organised and led by women, yet women remain in the majority in this country in terms of population.
"I look forward to the day when this majority can also access real power, which will improve the well-being of not just women, but the whole of society,” Dongo added.
The former Central Intelligence Organisation operative also disclosed that she had only assisted the People First team during the party's formative stages.
Dongo, whose Harare house was torched early this year, said she had not yet got any feedback so far pertaining to investigations into the arson case.
“It leaves me wondering who the culprits could be and also how sophisticated they are given that the law enforcement agencies have not been able to arrest anyone, or at least provide some kind of conclusion to the case,” she said.