DRAMA and tension punctuated proceedings in Bindura yesterday, as riot police and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF’s fact-finding team battled to quell tempers and stamp their authority during a heated meeting to investigate circumstances that triggered the no-confidence vote in the party’s national commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.
by OBEY MANAYITI
Shortly after the heated meeting, Kasukuwere’s G40 loyalists took to the streets celebrating, claiming victory, as the rival faction, believed to be sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accused the head of delegation, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, of bias.
The under-fire Kasukuwere, who sneaked out after the meeting, breathed a sigh of relief after members of the Zanu PF Mashonaland Central provincial executive allegedly failed to substantiate their claims that he had formed parallel provincial party structures to topple Mugabe.
“This was a G40 arrangement, which was stage-managed and we are surprised to realise there is now a constitution to be followed, yet all along people were being fired left right and centre without the constitution,” provincial war veterans’ chairperson, Sam Parirenyatwa said.
“Now it is Kasukuwere and everyone else wants to bring in the constitution to protect him. In any event, the people have spoken
countrywide and things will never be the same again for him. We know most of the people there were hired to stage-manage the said position of Mash Central.
“The chairman didn’t want anyone opposed to Kasukuwere to speak. War veterans were chased out and it appears he brought his people to defend his position.”
But one of the accused and provincial secretary for administration, Wonder Mashange said he was happy with the meeting’s proceedings.
“I need to appreciate the President for setting up this fact-finding committee. The chair was someone guided by finding facts. Some of the issues raised were bordering on personal differences,” he said.
“Mudenda tried his best to find the facts. People were hoodwinked into making these allegations.”
Mashange said the petitions presented did not have signatures, describing them as bogus.
Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson, Dickson Mafios, who was also under probe, said he was happy, as Mudenda had followed procedure.
“He (Mudenda) put the constitution on the table and we are very happy with the deliberations. In fact, it was made clear that there is no one who wanted to turn against the President. That is taboo,” he said.
Mudenda rubbished claims he was biased, saying: “I made sure all who were bona fide members attended and all who were not were asked to leave.”
On Kasukuwere and Mafios, Mudenda said: “The comrades gave candid responses and we noted that. I am not at liberty to give you the final observation from the committee.
“My team should finish the report by mid next week and we shall share with those who matter.”
The meeting, which lasted six hours, began in a chaotic manner, with some party members being denied entry into the venue.
Police had a torrid time turning away hordes of people and ended up unleashing their dogs.
Although they managed to maintain order at the gate to regulate entry, pockets of resistance started building up, with people threatening to revolt if their positions were not accepted.
Inside the meeting, the rival factions chanted slogans and sang songs aimed at demeaning their rivals whenever they tried to address the crowd.
Order was only restored when Mudenda and his team arrived.
As per the party’s constitution, they started by vetting delegates, with some, who were not supposed to be part of the meeting, being ejected.
As the meeting was underway, youths supporting Kasukuwere arrived with placards showering the under-fire political commissar with praises.
They were, however, driven out by baton-wielding police officers.
Police also fired teargas to disperse them, before following them into town.
Inside the meeting, Mudenda gave a stern warning to the delegates, threatening to deal with those who sent pre-emptive messages on social media.
He said they would engage State security agents and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to identify the culprits.
Although Parirenyatwa tried to contest his ejection, claiming he was the substantive war veterans’ chairperson, Mudenda ruled he was not and only allowed him to stay as an observer.
During his contestation, his rivals were shouting that he was co-opted by war vets secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda and he and his crew were not supposed to be there.
Several attempts by Parirenyatwa to object and save his colleagues failed to yield anything.
Although his other colleagues were chucked out, they nearly caused a storm as they contested the ejection.
“I am the bedrock of the party. War veterans are the bedrock of the party, but surprisingly we being are ejected. I don’t see any reason why we should be removed,” contested one of the war veterans, as he was blocked from making his submissions against Kasukuwere.
Parirenyatwa had to be given a final warning, as he constantly interjected others from the rival camp.
Another anti-Kasukuwere official, Shantel Mbereko, was given her marching orders after it was established that she had resigned from her position.
She claimed to have incriminating evidence against Kasukuwere concerning some mines in Kitsiyatota.
After she was ejected, she tried in vain to lobby war veterans into protesting outside the venue, as police stamped authority, demanding them to disperse.
They obliged, but baton-wielding police kept following them into town, where they repeatedly threatened to assault them.
During the meeting, before journalists were told to leave, Mudenda asked for signatures that were supporting the petition, as there were none on the papers he had.
He read the first allegation, that of forming parallel structures meant to topple the President.
Mudenda invited evidence, but those who stood to speak claimed this was evidenced by the provincial resolution last year that demanded the Vice-Presidents to be voted into power.
They said there was no such resolution and only those in parallel structures were pushing that.
The firm Mudenda was unconvinced and kept on asking for those with evidence to come forward.
Some said the parallel structures were evidenced by the elevation of Mafios from an ordinary member to acting chairperson, yet they had chosen Mashange, who incidentally was being charged with Kasukuwere and Mafios.
Mashange quickly defended himself, saying he voluntarily left the position, adding Mafios was transparently elevated at an inter-district meeting.
Others said the issue of parallel structures was evidenced by coming up with shadow MPs where there were sitting ones, something that was also disputed.
Mashange said it was not true, giving an example of Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora, who is also eyeing his seat.
As the meeting progressed, others said some members left and those co-opted were picked on the basis of their loyalty to the accused.
However, Mashange, sitting next to journalists, shouted that those who were replaced had since joined former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
A member of the women’s league claimed she was being threatened with violence if she said anything against Kasukuwere. After making the allegation, she shifted her sitting position.
As more people raised hands to make their submissions, journalists were ejected and were escorted outside, where tensions were rising, as those who had been thrown out were mobilising for a demonstration that was, however, broken up by police.