HARARE – Fomer Cabinet minister and President Robert Mugabe’s confidante — Didymus Mutasa and liberation icon Rugare Gumbo — have joined the growing chorus of people who want First Lady Grace Mugabe restrained in her powerful role which has thrown Zanu PF into disarray.
Both Mutasa and Gumbo are now elders at the floundering Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) following their bitter fallout with Mugabe which led to the purging of the duo and other high-ranking officials who include former vice president Joice Mujuru.
In a statement released on Thursday, Gumbo and Mutasa said they back the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda who said that the country should stand up against Grace.
“In the statement issued by the ZNLWVA secretary-general in response to recent developments within the ruling Zanu PF, the nation was, in our view, reminded that the struggle for independence was not about replacing a white dictatorship with a black ruling elite,” the former Zanu PF top officials said in a joint statement.
“The struggle for independence was not about replacing white minority rule with a partisan, parochial and undemocratic system of governance characterised by patronage and clan-based politics.
“As far as we know, the liberation struggle was fought on the ideological principle that targeted the notion of re-asserting the dignity of the oppressed so that they could have a say in the governance of the polity to which they belonged.
“It was all about a fight against an undemocratic and oppressive system that had to be replaced by a free, non-discriminating, democratic and just system grounded on peace, freedom, and prosperity.”
Grace said last week Mugabe, who has been in power since the country attained its independence in 1980, should name his preferred successor, to end divisions over the future leadership of the ruling Zanu PF party, courting the wrath of war veterans who described her as an insignificant part of the country’s history, whose claim to fame was through marriage to the veteran nationalist.
The war veterans, who were chucked out of the ruling party last year after calling on Mugabe to enthrone Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, vowed that they would storm Zanu PF headquarters and repossess their central committee seats if Mugabe does not censure his wife.
Mutasa and Gumbo, who were also expelled from Zanu PF on charges of trying to topple Mugabe, had no kind words for Grace accused of trying to have Mnangagwa removed from his post.
This also comes as the women’s league she leads is relentlessly pushing for an amendment of the party’s constitution to ensure that one of the vice president positions was reserved for a woman.
However, Mugabe faces a rebellion as Mnangagwa supporters, who include powerful elements in the military, are wary of attempts to expel the Midlands godfather in similar fashion to Mujuru.
“Our message is that you are absolutely spot-on ‘sons and daughters of the soil’. You are spot-on because our revolution was about a people-oriented and servant leadership philosophy and not one family,” the ZPF elders said.
“It was about Zimbabwe as a family of merit and competence-based participation and not mal-practices associated with nepotism, favouritism, lack of transparency and accountability.
“As long as the above and other ideals of the liberation struggle are lacking and the prevailing mal-practices remain, the causes of the liberation struggle have gone to naught.
“This is a very unfortunate development that must not be allowed to prevail.”