HARARE - Zanu PF's deadly infighting is getting more intractable by the day, with miffed war veterans becoming increasingly critical of President Robert Mugabe, and now also bemoaning the brutal 2014 purge from the ruling party of former Vice President Joice Mujuru on what they say were "contrived" charges.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, prominent war veteran and one of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s most loyal supporters, Victor Matemadanda, said bluntly and unexpectedly that Mujuru's ruthless purge from Zanu PF had been "a grave mistake".
He said "that error" had allegedly opened the door for "opportunists, cultists and rumour-mongers " to lie and manipulate their way in the warring former liberation movement — to the extent that today the party and its leaders "do not know where they are coming from or going".
“All of us in Zanu PF then reacted to what those people were saying about Mujuru. There were a lot of allegations against Mujuru and because it was coming from high offices, we believed the allegations. But we now see these people for who they truly are," Matemadanda said.
He added that it was not just Mujuru who had been "hard done" by the party when she was hounded out of Zanu PF on untested allegations of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe, but also all her supporters as well who had similarly been chased out of the party.
“This is why every person who worked with Mujuru is now being approached and asked to return. They (opportunists) have not proved the allegations, yet they want the people back in the party, and it makes us wonder.
"These (opportunists) are the same people who suspended (former senior Cabinet minister and politburo heavyweight) Nicholas Goche, but all of a sudden now want to work with him.
“They must apologise to the nation for soiling all these people's names. And because of all this, one can conclude that all is not well in the party,” the aggrieved Matemadanda said, adding that it was clear that Mugabe and his wife Grace were being misled by these opportunists.
“It is now up to the First Family to disassociate themselves from these malicious behaviours. Zimbabwe is being run based on rumour mongers,” he thundered.
Matemadanda said the fact that former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda had been approached to become minister responsible for the former freedom fighters welfare, before he had been exonerated on the untested charges that his Zanu PF enemies had brought against him, showed that their allegations were baseless in the first place.
“They may think that they have fired us (from Zanu PF, and as leaders of war veterans), but they don’t have the capacity. No one holds the title deeds of the party. We didn’t go to war to follow anyone. We went to war to free Zimbabwe, we won the freedom and now must enjoy the fruits,” he said.
Matemadanda said people such as former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and others who had been expelled from Zanu PF "are still part of the party, no matter how much other people will want to wish them away”.
“What is important is not to be in the politburo, but to be in the revolution. People who freed this country had no positions. We are above factions as war veterans. We didn’t fight for a particular individual and we don’t want to build dictators or cultists.
"We know one day President Mugabe is going to go and we don’t want a cult leader to take over. We want a simple thinking comrade to takeover. This business of making other people cults is what makes other people think that this country belongs to them,” he charged.
Matemadanda spoke as Mnangagwa’s allies are ramping up their assault on Mugabe’s authority, savaging the Zanu PF politburo’s decisions of the past few months, as well as the nonagenarian’s key lieutenants such as national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Speaking at a meeting of war veterans aligned to Mnangagwa in Bulawayo at the weekend, the gathered Team Lacoste members not only chanted “Down with G40 (Zanu PF Young Turks opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe)”, they also came just short of openly denouncing Mugabe.
Matemadanda roundly slated the Zanu PF politburo at the meeting — saying the party's top decision-making structure outside congress had become a “disciplinary politburo”, while Zanu PF itself was now a “party for firing not hiring”.
He also launched a scathing attack on Kasukuwere — who Mugabe singled out for special praise at the nonagenarian’s belated birthday bash in Masvingo two weeks ago — for the deluge of expulsions that have characterised Zanu PF over the past two years.
Speaking at the same get-together, Mutsvangwa said bluntly that he had issues with people surrounding Mugabe, while also slating Zanu PF’s newly-found penchant for purging party members.