Tell President Robert Mugabe to “stop your wife” and you’re in trouble – even if you are a graduate of the ruling party’s ideological college.
That’s the case for Zanu-PF supporter, Godfrey Tsenengamu, who was arrested last week after he told reporters in Harare that the Zimbabwe first lady was a “hired spoiler” in Zanu-PF’s messy succession wars.
Tsenengamu is a well-known former youth chairperson in Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. He’s also – crucially – a supporter of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He made that clear in his press conference, calling on Mugabe to step down for the vice president and “stop your wife before we stop her”, according to quotes carried by Newsday.
Grace Mugabe is widely believed to be part of the G40 faction of Zanu-PF, which is fighting Mnangagwa and his supporters for the upper hand.
Tsenengamu’s lawyer says he’s now been charged with subverting a constitutionally-elected government, undermining the president’s authority and holding a press conference without permission. He was remanded in custody on Friday and has been advised to apply for bail at the High Court, according to the state-controlled Herald.
Tsenengamu’s arrest continues to attract attention in Zimbabwe, where it’s much more common to see opposition supporters or rights activists locked up for criticising Mugabe (think protest pastors Evan Mawarire or Patrick Mugadza).
The British embassy in Harare tweeted on Monday: “Don’t sympathise with tsenengamu often but how can it be constitutional to arrest some1 for holding a press conference!”
But Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a tweet that Tsenengamu was “criminally doomed”.
Tsenengamu claims on his Facebook page that he’s been to the “ZANU-PF Ideological College”, almost certainly a reference to the Chitepo Ideological School, which started operating last June.