By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Zanu PF has launched a brutal campaign of terror against perceived supporters of former Vice President Joice Mujuru ahead of the party’s divisive primary elections to choose candidates to stand in 16 vacant legislative seats around the country, the Daily News has learnt.
To add fuel to the raging factional fires devouring the party, the schismatic process of choosing candidates for vacant Parliamentary seats also comes on the back of an equally divisive “restructuring” programme that the party’s new top leadership is undertaking.
The country is set to hold by-elections in the 16 constituencies following the recent expulsion of two Zanu PF and 21 MDC legislators from Parliament.
Seven of the 21 MDC seats will not be contested outside the opposition party as they are proportional representation seats.
Victims of Zanu PF’s terror campaign against their own told the Daily News yesterday that the vicious violence, intimidation and harassment of perceived party supporters of Mujuru was escalating ahead of the internal primaries and restructuring of the party — itself, a controversial programme to weed out pro-Mujuru officials from their influential local and provincial posts.
Fearful of more harassment and worse violence, the victims pleaded with the Daily News not to identify them.
They said the fact that the MDC had said that it might not partake in any of the contested by-elections, unless necessary electoral reforms were crafted and enacted ahead of the polls, had worsened Zanu PF’s infighting as many “Weevils” felt that this was their best chance to get into Parliament.
“The Weevils (anti-Mujuru Zanu PF supporters) are running amok and terrorising all of Amai Mujuru’s perceived supporters, who they now regard as enemies in the same way that they view (MDC leader Morgan) Tsvangirai’s supporters.
“As a result, many innocent people are being weeded out of the party’s structures, harassed and assaulted, mostly because they don’t want to chant anti-Mujuru slogans,” one of the victims said.
Former Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, who maintains that he represents the pre-congress Zanu PF, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that all supporters who were perceived to be loyal or connected to Mujuru were going through a torrid time.
“We are fully aware of the intimidation in the restructuring that is taking place, primarily because of the resistance to the ongoing thuggery by the people,” he said.
Gumbo, one of the two surviving members of the Dare reChimurenga, said an insecure post-congress Zanu PF was “targeting bona fide members in a desperate bid to scupper the chances of Mujuru” ever recovering from her ouster from power.
“They are purging anyone who they believe to be connected to Mujuru, Mutasa or Gumbo,” the liberation struggle pioneer said.
“We are hearing of massive intimidation in areas where by-elections are set to be held. We have heard reports of assaults in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, where soldiers and the police are harassing the masses.
“The same thing happened in Mt Darwin. However, the important thing is for people to stick to their beliefs. You do not force people to follow you.
“The party is appointing people to positions in all structures as was the case at the illegal congress that was held last year,” Gumbo added.
But reacting to the allegations, Zanu PF political commissar Savior Kasukuwere, who is spearheading the restructuring, said Gumbo, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and Mujuru should “shut up and enjoy their retirement” quietly.
“They must take their retirement nicely, they should just enjoy their retirement please,” Kasukuwere said.
The continuing deadly ructions within Zanu PF come at a time that President Robert Mugabe has openly admitted that he is a worried man, adding that he is having many sleepless nights as a result.
Speaking at Kutama Mission’s Centenary celebrations in Zvimba at the weekend, the frail-looking nonagenarian told gathered current and former students that he had arrived late for the event because he had only slept for two hours on Saturday night.
“I want to thank you all for coming. I was disjointed because we came back at midnight yesterday. I had two hours of sleep and … I have the habit that if I have something that worries my mind, my mind sleeps on it and I constantly jump out of sleep and say is it not time, is it not time. That is why we were a bit late in coming to this function,” Mugabe said.
However, Mugabe — Africa’s oldest leader — did not get into details about what it was that was troubling him.
Observers said among the issues stressing the nonagenarian are the rising political tensions in the country, a worsening national economic environment, the deadly infighting in Zanu PF, his sick wife and his own failing health associated with old age. Daily News