By Zvamaida Murwira
Former president Mr Robert Mugabe and Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri (Retired) — understood to be his proxy in the former First Family’s political project, New Patriotic Front (NPF) — are trying to launch their dynastic political enterprise through their maternal ties, ex-Zipra cadres have said.
In an interview with ZBC News on Monday, ex-Zipra combatant Cde Freddy “Chillis” Mutanda said despite their relationship, Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd) also felt indebted to Mr Mugabe.
He said Mr Mugabe reinvented Mutinhiri’s political career when he had taken a sabbatical ostensibly because he had been overlooked by Zipra when they appointed Cde Lookout Masuku as commander.
Cde Masuku had replaced the former commander, Cde Alfred Nikita Mangena, who was killed in June 1978.
“It is his decision (to form NPF),” said Cde Mutanda. “We will say it his decision bearing in mind that him and the former President (Mr Mugabe) are close. They are actually related.
“Their mothers were cousins. I know that for certain because for me, Mutinhiri is like a brother. He has taken a decision to work with his brother (Mr Mugabe).”
The disgruntled Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd), Cde Mutanda said, was only salvaged by Mr Mugabe from his sabbatical at his rural home in Mahusekwa after independence.
“So, when we came back after the liberation struggle, he was no longer in the structures of Zipra, his position as chief of staff and deputy commander were not filled after he took a sabbatical,” he said.
According to Cde Mutanda, Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd), in agreeing to front the NPF, had mistakenly thought that he could easily recruit disgruntled Zipra cadres who had tried to reach out to him after ex-Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was appointed to the post, which they vehemently opposed.
“We were supposed to meet last Friday,” said Cde Mutanda. “He (Brig-Gen Mutinhiri) took advantage of a situation. As you know, as Zipra we had decided sometime last year to approach the former president (Mr Mugabe) to have Mphoko recalled as Vice President.
“It is not a secret. We then approached our leadership in the party to say what Cde Mphoko is doing is not proper; it is not in line with the Unity Accord. I was personally dealing with the matter.
“I approached Cde Mutinhiri to say let’s recall Cde Mphoko; Cde Mutinhiri refused. So, last week on the 24th of February, I then heard some people he had sent. He actually sent some people to contact me for us to have a meeting to discuss the post November issue.
“He took advantage of a situation where we were not happy about certain things. But we refused to meet him because he had refused to have Mphoko recalled. So we said we can only meet as the former High Command if Dumiso (Dabengwa) is going to be there, because Dumiso was our man after the November issue.”
Another Zipra cadre, Cde Headman Moyo, described as an extension of the G40 cabal.
“We feel that he is part of G40 extension,” he said.
In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda called on war veterans and ex-detainees not to be fooled by ambitious people like Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd), who was trying to soil the vision of “Operation Restore Legacy”.
Cde Matemadanda said it was time war veterans and ex-detainees rallied behind President Mnangagwa who has indicated his willingness to address their plight.
“We should not be fooled by people like Retired Brigadier-General Mutinhiri to follow them because they want to spoil the vision of “Operation Restore Legacy” that has seen a lot of changes in the country,” he said.
“Interestingly, he goes to former President Mugabe, who for the past 37 years, failed the country.”