By Nelson Sibanda
A former Zanu (PF) minister miraculously survived a Zanu (PF) assassination plot, hatched with the aid of the deadly state-sponsored assassins for ‘conspiring’ to terminate President Robert Mugabe’s presidency.
Paul Mangwana, who co-chaired the constitution making body COPAC, speaking in an authentic and ‘live’ script film, “The Democrats,” told his former counterpart Douglas Mwonzora, that Zanu (PF) had hatched a plot to assassinate him for ‘selling-out’.
“I was warned that a hit squad was organised to kill me in a stage-managed road accident for letting in a constitutional clause that would have barred Mugabe from contesting the 2013 elections. I had to rush and meet with the General (not identified, but Zimbabwe has only one General for its defence forces, (Constantine Chiwenga, a self-confessed Zanu (PF) supporter) who confirmed the plot.
“The General told me that Zanu (PF) was worried about why the assassination was taking so long to execute, since I should have been killed long back,” said Mangwana.
Mugabe later told Mwonzora and Mangwana at a stakeholders meeting that they had got carried away and too excited with the offices they held at COPAC. (Iwe Mwonzora neshamwari yako Mangwana apamaive mafarisa). “The problem with parliament is that it does not know where it derives its powers,” said Mugabe.
A subsequent Zanu (PF) Politburo meeting, according to the film, unanimously agreed that Mangwana had sold out.
Mangwana’s role in the constitution making process was stressful and he was forced to behave against his conscience, as he would unsuccessfully advise some his colleagues in Zanu (PF) against bussing in people from rural areas to towns for COPAC outreach meetings.
“I told my party that it was not necessary to bus in people for the COPAC meetings and that violence was not our intention, as it would torpedo the whole constitution making process, but they would not listen.
“It is not an easy task to convince my leadership that the constitution that helped them retain power for the past 33 years is not good. Not an easy task at all,” said Mangwana.
Following Mwonzora’s arrest during the constitution-making process for crimes allegedly committed in 2003, Mangwana observed; “You can only fight the system if you have the same weapons. The system has arms and prisons. What do you have yourself besides bare hands? I am in the system and know how lethal it is.”
During the outreach programme, Mangwana angered war veterans and Zanu (PF) as he resisted holding separate outreach meetings along party lines in rural areas.
The film exposed the manipulation of the meetings by Zanu (PF) which deployed state security agents ahead of COPAC teams to grill people on what to say. The CIO and other state security agents would instil fear in people as part of the Zanu (PF) strategy to manipulate the constitution making process.
After one life was lost at a COPAC meeting held at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, Harare, Mangwana called a man he addressed as Bishop at the other side of the conversation, advising him that:
“Bishop, the dogs are on leash and must be brought home since the situation is now out of control. Cease fire.”
Hired Zanu (PF) supporters wielding an assortment of weapons and missiles had earlier told Mangwana at the hall that they were bussed in to act and could not wait any longer to carry out their mission.
In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean at the end of the film show, Mangwana admitted that the film was a true reflection of what happened during the constitution making process.
“The film was not stage-managed and recordings were made live during various stages of the constitution making process, only that in the heat of the moment we did not realise that someone was recording,” Mangwana said, expressing satisfaction that he had played a pivotal role in the history of the country’s supreme law-making, albeit at high risk.
Mwonzora acknowledged that Mangwana was not safe and under the current regime, his assassination would be justified by the system as he was regarded a sell-out by Zanu (PF).
“Mangwana would be pushed into unpopular decisions by Zanu (PF) and unfortunately would lose all reasoning in the process,” Mwonzora said, advising Mangwana to remain vigilant; “Though, the constitution making process is over and everything looks calm, the assassins might strike.”
The film was shown this week on the BBC. The Zimbabwean