President Robert Mugabe hated the late national hero Edgar Tekere with a passion, partly because of his book, A Lifetime of Struggle, which ridicules the President, but the reasons go beyond that, analysts said yesterday.
Tekere, who succumbed to prostate cancer last week, was declared a national hero and laid to rest at the national shrine on Sunday.
Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a close friend of the late Tekere who edited his book, said other than the manuscript, which almost claimed the scalp of former politburo member Ephraim Masawi (now late) for attending its launch, there were a plethora of other reasons why President Mugabe hated Tekere.
“It’s a serious matter. There is more to it,” he said.
According to the book, President Mugabe blocked Tekere’s bid to be readmitted into the party and run in the 2005 Senate elections on a Zanu PF ticket.
Said a source: “It’s as well that Tekere’s burial took place while President Mugabe was attending the Sadc Summit in South Africa because presiding over the event would have been a most unpleasant task for him.”
Excerpts from the book read: “When my name was raised as one of the candidates recommended to represent the party in Manicaland, Mugabe raised his head, looked at John Nkomo (then Zanu PF national chairperson) and asked, ‘Has that name come through and been cleared by your office?’ John Nkomo then shook his head and said ‘No’.
“Mugabe then said, ‘You know the procedure. Next.’ The Tekere subject was closed.”
In the book, Tekere took a swipe at Zimbabweans, calling them cowards, for failing to stand up to President Mugabe. He accused the President of personalising the liberation struggle and called on him to leave office, a stance which could have further estranged him from President Mugabe, the analysts said.
“Zimbabwe is full of useless people. They have allowed Mugabe to lie to them. He has been humiliating our women and children. He has humiliated trade unionists and ululated about this.
For God’s sake, the people of this country are cowards,” Tekere says on page 174 of his book.
“I am calling on Mugabe to go, and go quickly. He should go now before the situation consumes him. We have to reconstruct this country, but without Mugabe . . .
“President Mugabe talks, imagines and believes that he, and he alone, brought about the freedom of Zimbabwe. He believes that some of us were sleeping at home with our wives while he was fighting. This nonsense must come to an end. In terms of entry into politics, he is a baby, and I challenge him to deny this.”
Another analyst, Dr John Makumbe, said although President Mugabe appreciated the role Tekere played in helping him cross into Mozambique for the liberation struggle and assisting him to land the leadership of the party, he would have preferred he was not declared a national hero.
“The book played a role, because in that book he caricatures (President) Mugabe in a very light way. There is an area where he says (President) Mugabe was afraid of guns and did not want to see a gun next to him. Tekere says it took time for (President) Mugabe to know how to use a gun, even for his own protection.
“The book paints (President) Mugabe as a coward, but other than the book, Tekere was kicked out of Zanu PF, formed his own party and ran against (President) Mugabe. (President) Mugabe does not forgive that,” Makumbe said.
Political commentator Charles Mangongera said by the time the book was published, President Mugabe already intensely disliked Tekere. The hatred started in the early 1980s, he said.
“He (Tekere) was one of the first people to challenge the Zanu PF top leadership over their deviation from the party’s leadership code, which was based on socialist principles. Some Zanu PF
leaders were starting to show capitalist tendencies of wanting to acquire wealth and he questioned why the party was losing its fabric,” Mangongera said.
“But the major reason is because he stopped (President) Mugabe and Zanu PF’s desire to establish a one-party State, hence his formation of Zum (Zimbabwe Unity Movement).
“(President) Mugabe thought he had dealt with Zapu through Gukurahundi and by coercing (the late PF Zapu leader Joshua) Nkomo into the Unity Accord. So, Tekere’s defiance meant that there was more opposition.”