President Robert Mugabe yesterday confronted loyalists of embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru at a stormy politburo meeting as he stamps his authority in the fractious Zanu PF ahead of next week’s elective congress.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Arriving at the meeting Mugabe said to politburo member Nicholas Goche, “ndimika muri kupumhwa huroyi [you are the one being accused of witchcraft]”.
The question caught Goche off-guard and he responded that he was not around on the seventh to which Mugabe responded, “ati musi wa7 ndiyani [who mentioned any date?].
Goche said that was the information contained in The Herald prompting Mugabe to say, “Handina kumboverenga bepa [I did not read the paper]. Mugabe then sarcastically asked Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti why he was in the “wrong basket”. He responded by saying he was loyal and consistent. Mugabe told him that people said he was not consistent.
He then instructed politburo member Josaya Hungwe to bring order to Masvingo.
Mugabe did not greet secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa. The state media implicates Mutasa, Goche and Mujuru in an alleged plot to kill Mugabe. The trio has dismissed the allegations as untrue.
Both Goche and Bhasikiti are believed to be aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp. First Lady Grace Mugabe who has been calling for Mujuru’s ouster recently claimed that the VP was plotting to assassinate her husband as the succession battle intensifies.
Goche, a key Mujuru ally, has been at the centre of a storm, following reports by The Herald newspaper alleging that he had gone to Israel and South Africa to hire hitmen to kill Mugabe.
The story came after a Sunday Mail report claiming that Mujuru was planning to assassinate Mugabe if he refused to relinquish power to allow her to take over. Both Goche and Mujuru have however denied the allegations.
Public media reports also claimed there were video recordings implicating suspended party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Mutasa in plans to assassinate Mugabe.
Gumbo and Mutasa have also denied the allegations, claiming it was a smear campaign by Information minister Jonathan Moyo to set them on a collision course with Mugabe.
Mugabe’s behaviour all but confirmed that he has taken a position to back the Mnangagwa faction, which roped in his wife in its campaign that came after outgoing women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri relinquished her position to Grace in June.
By late last night, the politburo meeting, possibly the last before the party goes for its elective congress on December 2, was still in session.
However, The Standard was reliably informed there were four items on the agenda.
First, under-fire politburo commissar, Webster Shamu was expected to give a report on the state of affairs in the party following the votes of no confidence passed on provincial chairs and other senior party members.
There have also been calls by the Mnangagwa camp for the ouster of Shamu, who is also believed to be a Mujuru ally over the manner he held provincial elections last year whose outcome came heavily in favour of the Mujuru camp.
Party national chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo, who took over as the acting spokesperson after the five-year suspension slapped on Gumbo, was supposed to give reports on disciplinary procedures that had been conducted in the wake of the votes of no confidence.
Khaya Moyo is also the chairman of the national disciplinary committee which also comprises Mnangagwa.
Third on the agenda was preparations of the congress while proposed constitutional amendments meant to give Mugabe more powers to appoint his deputies would take centre-stage.
If such amendments are passed, Mujuru’s political end would have been sealed.