Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Minister gets death threats

By Fungi Kwaramba

The ugly tribal, factional and succession wars that are devouring President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF have taken another ominous turn, as the troubled former liberation movement prepares for its crucial annual conference that kicks off in earnest in Masvingo today.

Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Patrick Zhuwao
Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Patrick Zhuwao

Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao — who is also Mugabe’s nephew — told the Daily News yesterday that he had received death threats related to his recent public criticism of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF supporters.

Zanu PF insiders have claimed that Zhuwao is a key member of a faction of Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is strongly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe. However, the youthful minister flatly denies any links to the G40.

The dreadlocked Zhuwao said after receiving the death threats from people linked to Mnangagwa, he had moved to report the matter to the police, under case number RRB 120763.
This was after a self-proclaimed Mnangagwa loyalist, Frank Onismo Ziyambi, warned him via Facebook that he risked being killed for his recent withering attack on the Midlands godfather.

Efforts to get a comment from the police yesterday did not bear fruits as national police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she was away on leave, referring all questions to her deputy Paul Nyathi who in turn referred the Daily News back to Charamba.

Zhuwao publicly attacked Mnangagwa and his Team Lacoste faction last week, further describing the VP as “unelectable” and not worth supporting because of the tendency of his “excitable” backers to bully and threaten people.

This appeared to rub Ziyambi the wrong way, who went on to write the threatening message on his Facebook wall.

“Can someone tell . . . Zhuwao kuti (that) his relationship nasekuru (his uncle Mugabe) is eternal, but relationship with the presidency (sic) is not. It is not every day you will wake up uchingori muzukuru wapresident (you will not be the president’s nephew forever).

“Even in the Bible, the twelve disciples one day woke up Jesu Christu asisipo wani (and found Jesus Christ gone) . . . Zhuwao go and ask for forgiveness kuna 1st VP Cde Mnangagwa and war veterans. If you don’t I will kill you. Do the right thing now, it is never too late. Apologise today.

“. . . Zhuwao, who are you to tell people of Zimbabwe kuti (that) 1st VP Cde Hon Mnangagwa is unelectable. Are you electable your dirty self? Didn’t you lose a primary election in Zvimba, your home area?” Ziyambi said.

“So you think HE Mugabe is gonna be president for eternity? He is of blood and flesh, one day whether you like it or not he will leave.

“The sun will never stop setting because your uncle is no longer president. You dumb Patrick. What do you have against 1st VP Mnangagwa? Unogwei navo (why fight him) are you afraid he won’t protect you from the enermies (sic) you are busy making?” he added.

Zhuwao has had several run-ins in the past few months with alleged Mnangagwa allies, including a large section of war veterans who are backing the VP to succeed Mugabe.

Stung by his fierce criticism of their executive two weeks ago, war veterans viciously attacked Zhuwao in turn over his recent  remarks suggesting that ex-combatants were intimidating Zanu PF supporters to back Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.

The spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, told the Daily News then that Zhuwao had “no moral ground” to comment on their activities as he was “not yet born” when they waged the war of liberation.

“Zhuwao doesn’t know anything . . . when we went to war he was not yet born. He is trying to personalise or make it (leadership of Zanu PF and the country) a family thing because you will never find justification when this issue comes from the nephew of the president.

“They want to separate us from the people, but we will remain with the people. We expect such a thing from Zhuwao considering his age. If it was not the determination of war veterans, he would never have had his dreadlocks and he would never have been a minister.

“We don’t see him occupying that position as justifiable. It’s part of what we think is nepotism. He doesn’t know about the revolution, he only knows this from books. He must shut up. People must not call people like Zhuwao comrades. It’s an abuse of the name,” the forthright Mahiya thundered.

Zhuwao had suggested that some of Mnangagwa’s supporters were allegedly using fear to try and impose the VP on Zanu PF supporters. This also came after war veterans had previously warned that if Mnangagwa did not succeed Mugabe blood could be shed in the country.

This is not the first time that a Cabinet minister has received death threats over the past two years, and as Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable ructions have become more intractable.

Earlier this year, Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane found a bullet in his hotel room in Harare, where he was staying. The bullet had been placed on a headboard in the room.

This happened at a time when Zanu PF had ordered the Midlands province to conduct hearings against its provincial leaders who stood accused of threatening Hlongwane and two other ministers.

Those initial threats had seen Hlongwane and his two colleagues writing to Zanu-PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, seeking protection from party members who were allegedly victimising them on claims that they belonged to the G40.

The deadly fights within the warring Zanu PF also took a similarly ominous turn last year after Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha received an AK47 bullet and a threatening message telling him to step down or risk suffering the same fatal fate that befell the late Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika, who died in a suspicious car accident in 2008.

Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News at the time that “the parcel” with the bullet and threatening message was delivered to the minister’s office just after midnight — amid “clear indications” that this was the work of “hardliners” angling to succeed Mugabe.

The lawyer-turned-politician, a lightweight in Zanu PF, was said to be “very shaken and in hiding” at the time.

Although once linked to ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru, Dinha was now said to be very close to the First Family — which had apparently displeased some party hawks.

One of the sources who spoke to the Daily News at the time, and who is close to Dinha — who has survived several attempts to oust him from his ministerial post over the past two years — said the AK47 bullet and the threatening message had been delivered to his offices at midnight.

“Someone went to the minister’s office and left an envelope with the security guards. As is the norm, when Dinha’s secretary arrived in the morning, the envelope was handed to her and she duly opened it and discovered the disturbing contents.

“She immediately phoned her boss, who was shaken by this development. As we speak, he has gone into hiding. For your own information, Manyika was given a death threat before he was eliminated. So the minister is taking the threats seriously,” the source said.

A menacing message accompanied the AK47 bullet and read, “Game over Dinha, resign now or else we get you. Dinha your time is up and you messed with the wrong guys”. Daily News