By Richard Chidza
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s henchmen have escalated a plan to discredit and malign the octogenarian leader’s political enemies, including South African president Jacob Zuma, through a series of dirty tricks.
The $100 million plot — allegedly bankrolled by a raft of shadowy international businessmen and associates of the Zanu PF strongman — is also expected to net several high-profile Zimbabweans through real and imagined sting operations, the Sunday Times reported yesterday.
As things stand, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wedding blues and part of Zuma’s recent problems with Julius Malema have been touted as examples of this vile process aimed at winning various political objectives.
However, party spokesman Rugare Gumbo yesterday dismissed the claims, saying Zuma and Tsvangirai cannot blame their misfortune on the ex-majority party.
“It is all rubbish… we have neither time nor the money to do such a thing. Tsvangirai has his problems with women, while Zuma has his troubles with miners. You cannot possibly blame Zanu PF for these,” he said.
“As for the involvement of the intelligence, l am not sure… (and) in as much as I am unable to say whether we have received actually money and from who,” Gumbo said, adding people were just scapegoating by dragging in Mugabe’s names into their mess.
While the 88-year-old ruler is reportedly desperate to nail Tsvangirai, Industry minister Welshman Ncube and his Finance counterpart Tendai Biti for their threat to his power, party functionaries are also eager to distract Zuma from focusing more on the Zimbabwean crisis.
Apart from the aforementioned figures and political players, journalists, democracy activists and other vocal critics of the vanquished party are also potential targets. Reports of Malema’s dodgy links or alliance with Zanu PF have been given credence due to the acres of space he has been given in the State media in recent months.
In those shock interviews, the former African National Congress youth leader not only denigrates “reactionaries” within the region, but also extols Mugabe’s crude policies, including his planned company seizures.
Douglas Mwonzora, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson, yesterday insisted there was such a plot, including honey traps, to discredit people and “muddy the political waters.”
A resourceful and pugnacious fighter, the veteran Zimbabwean ruler has for long survived on such schemes and trickery where he would prefer sedition charges on the likes of Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Tsvangirai — and which allegations routinely fell apart in the country’s courts.
Apart from concocting treason charges against his opponents such as Tsvangirai’s much-publicised fight against Ari Ben-Menashe in the early 2000s, Mugabe’s men have also found a new weapon in the form of women — a trap, which netted or felled former Catholic bishop Pius Ncube.
And now, the sticky plot seems to be gaining ground — and currency — with the PM’s shambolic love life.
Under the covert operations, named as Operation Spiderweb by an international rights group Global Witness, Mugabe’s spooks will see to it that his party’s history of an unclean treatment of political opponents — since assuming power in 1980 — remains in force.
In a recent interview with an Australian news channel, Tsvangirai said Mugabe has not remained in power due to popularity. “Well, it is certainly not his popularity. I think Mugabe is able to stay in office because of sheer violence and repressive rule. That’s the bottom line,” the MDC leader said.
“Mugabe has gone from a democratically elected leader in 1980 to an authoritarian dictator who is now ruling the country by force and foul means. He has created a structure of governance that is directly answerable only to him — ignoring the existence of Cabinet, and ignoring all other democratic institutions like Parliament,” he said.
Apart from offshore funds and support from the likes of Chinese businessmen Sam Pa, there is widespread suspicion in the country and abroad that the troubled Harare regime is also abusing diamonds cash to ensure, and sustain its stay in power. Daily News