By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Liberation struggle stalwart Rugare Gumbo says Zimbabweans who hold an increasingly dim view of both the future of the country and post-congress Zanu PF are justified to do so as President Robert Mugabe is now “evidently” no longer capable of keeping the “centre together”.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, as Zimbabwe’s economic problems deepen and Zanu PF’s deadly ructions worsen following Tuesday’s rabid shellacking of party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere by war veterans — for allegedly plotting to oust Mugabe and other senior officials from power — Gumbo said there was now “terminal mazvakezvake” (Shona for fatal dog-eat-dog infighting) in the party.
Gumbo, who maintains that he harbours no personal bitterness towards Mugabe despite the “betrayals” he has suffered at the hands of his erstwhile comrades in the ruling party, said factionalism in the post-congress Zanu PF had now reached “a point of no return” with “at least four factions tearing each other to death in the party”.
All this, he said, showed that the reasons that had been proffered by party hardliners when former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters were first ousted from their positions and then expelled from the party altogether were “clear fiction”.
Gumbo described the “palpable confusion” in the ruling party as a sign that chickens were “now indeed coming home to roost” and an indication that the ruthless purges of senior officials was “bottled smoke designed to hoodwink Mugabe into chasing away the wrong people”.
In the run-up to Zanu PF’s disputed “damp squib” elective congress in December last year, Gumbo described Kasukuwere, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, and Higher Education minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as a so-called Gang of Four who had worked as the main authors of the chaos engulfing the party — a position he maintains.
So resonant has Gumbo’s derisive moniker become that even senior party officials and veterans of the liberation struggle, including those who savaged Kasukuwere on Tuesday, now use it openly.
“Factionalism is rampant in the post-congress Zanu PF. They thought that by removing some of us from the party it would end. It is also now very clear that Mai Mujuru never had any faction as seen in the worsening factionalism,” Gumbo said.
And with the increasingly powerless Mugabe now also usually absent from the country on foreign trips, Gumbo said the desired “one centre of power (in Zanu PF and the country) is now a pipedream”, adding that it was now “mazvakezvake” (Shona for fatal dog-eat-dog infighting) in the deeply divided party.
“They said they wanted to create one centre of power when the expelled us, at least that was Zhuwao’s theory”. But there is no centre of power right now.
“Kasukuwere has his own centre of power. (Vice President) Phelekezela (Mphoko) is said to be the centre of power in Matabeleland and on the other hand (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa thinks he is the centre of power in the Midlands region. So, this delusion of having one centre of power is nonsense,” Gumbo said.
In this light, he said, it had not been surprising to hear restless war veterans loyal to Mugabe “joining the bandwagon and spewing no kind words” for Kasukuwere and the rest of the members of the Gang of Four and Zanu PF Young Turks who operate as the Generation 40 group.
Recalling his last days in the “united” Zanu PF when he was shown the door at a politburo meeting in Harare, where party hardliners ganged up against everyone suspected of supporting Mujuru, Gumbo said he felt vindicated about his principled stance then, and did not regret leaving the party — as he was now “enjoying the drama from the terraces”.
“Once people say leave, there is no reason to stay. When they passed their resolution that I had been expelled from Zanu PF, there was no reason for me to stay.
“As a courtesy, I went to the president and I told him I was leaving and he said he thought I was going to stay at least until the end of the meeting. But I told him I was no longer a member of the politburo so I had to go.
“I could have walked out without talking to him, but I bid him farewell. Now look what is happening,” the surprisingly relaxed Gumbo said.
In remarks mirroring Gumbo’s views earlier this week, hugely-respected Zanu PF elder Cephas Msipa broke his recent silence over Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crises, saying candidly that Zanu PF had failed the country badly.
Msipa — who fondly refers to Mugabe as muzukuru (Shona for nephew) — also said the embattled nonagenarian needed all the help Zimbabweans could give him, across the political divide, if the country was to be rescued from the edge of the precipice where it had been for too long.
Describing Mugabe as “fundamentally” having good intentions, Msipa said not many positives could, however, be said about Zanu PF, which he said was failing dismally to deliver the “milk and honey” the ruling party had promised Zimbabweans during the liberation struggle.
“He (Mugabe) needs a lot of help and so we must support him. His heart is in the right place and he needs help,” the concerned Msipa emphasised repeatedly.
He added that although he had retired from active politics last year, he could not, however, bury his head “in the sand” when it was self-evident that the nation was “burning”.
“I am trying to get away from elective politics where people are jostling for positions. But because I have invested a lot of my life and time in politics, going back to the 1950s, I want to see this country prosper.
“I want to see the economy prosper. I look at the poverty in the country and I am worried at what is happening. When we went to war, we were promising people milk and honey and Zimbabwe was supposed to be a country of plenty.
“Milk meant enough to eat and honey represented happiness. I want to see people happy in the country. But I see there is fear, fear to speak and yet that is why we went to war to attain freedom of speech. Many people suffered for this country so that we can be happy, but where is the happiness?” Msipa asked ruefully.
Msipa said the worsening poverty levels in the country owing to the deteriorating socio-economic conditions could only be mitigated if Zanu PF accepted that it had failed the people and all Zimbabweans put their heads together to come up with lasting solutions to the crises.
He said he was making this observation and call even as he realised that some people in Zanu PF had contemptuously dismissed calls by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for a national dialogue. Daily News