One of the founder members of Zanu PF, Enos Nkala, Tuesday said President Robert Mugabe’s good oratory skills deceived nationalists – including Nkala himself — to believe he was a good leader and they thrust him to the helm of the party “hence the collapse of both Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe’s economy”.
Nkala was speaking in an interview — part of a series that he plans with NewsDay — at his home in the city’s upmarket suburb of Woodlands.
He said worse still, Mugabe had chosen to surround himself with “cheerleaders” who would not dare lift a finger against him.
Nkala said these and other similar sentiments were contained in a book that he was writing titled The Years Of Challenge , which he says should be published only after his death.
“We deceived ourselves and listened to the manner in which he (Mugabe) articulated issues, so we got carried away into believing that he was a leader,” he said. “I regretted later on (after forming Zanu as a breakaway from Zapu led by Joshua Nkomo) that myself, Maurice Nyagumbo and Edgar Tekere removed Ndabaningi Sithole from the position of president of the party and put Mugabe.”
Nkala said Mugabe was not even in the country when he was thrust at the helm of Zanu.
“I engineered the breakaway from Zapu because I did not agree with Joshua Nkomo on some issues, including military operations, as part of the struggle — that is why Zanu was formed in my house in Harare,” he said. “I was the moving spirit of Zanu.”
Nkala said he was one of those tasked to approach Mugabe when he was on holiday in the country as he was a teacher in Ghana — where he met his first wife, the late Sally — to ask him to join the then National Democratic Party as the spokesperson.
“Robert (Mugabe) is a first-class intellectual but lacks administrative ability,” Nkala said. “He is a talker but not a leader. He should be teaching at a university not leading the country.”
Nkala, who resigned from Zanu PF after serving as its treasurer-general for years, accused Mugabe of running down both the country and his party.
“Zanu PF was a massive party but look at what it is today,” said Nkala. “In Matabeleland it’s virtually not there and even in Mashonaland people are forced to vote for it.” He said people who had remained in Zanu PF were mostly Mugabe’s “recruits” who did not have the spine to challenge him.
“When we were still in Zanu PF with the likes of Tekere and Nyagumbo, we would not be lectured to in politburo meetings as I hear happens now,” said Nkala.
“It is this chef syndrome that has killed that party. I don’t know what chef means but it’s something they borrowed from Mozambique and we never had it in our politburo meetings.
“There was no way we would fear Mugabe when we were the people that recruited him.”
He said politburo meetings in the 1980s were characterised by “robust debate and free expression”.