Civil society leaders in Bulawayo reportedly dismissed Zapu as a product of “a few disgruntled old men” when they met United States Ambassador Charles Ray during the diplomat’s visit to the city two years ago.
According to one of the latest WikiLeaks cables released two weeks ago, the envoy met several representatives of civic organisations to “take the political and social temperature in this anti-Zanu PF stronghold.”
“When we asked about support for Dumiso Dabengwa’s revived Zapu party, formed by a handful of original Zapu leaders who broke away from Zanu PF earlier this year, some laughed, some sighed, and none had anything nice to say about Zapu’s political future,” said Ambassador Ray in the cables.
Anastacia Moyo, director of the influential NGO Bulawayo Agenda, said Zapu was nothing more than a few “disgruntled old men” who were interested in material gain from starting a new party.
“She said they have few members and little support from the people.” Moyo resigned from Bulawayo Agenda recently.
Director of Radio Dialogue at the time but now the organisation’s board member, Father Nigel Johnson, allegedly described Zapu’s leadership as “leftover old farts and opportunists”.
Ambassador Ray further stated that Reason Ngwenya, chairman of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, said “residents in their monthly meetings in Bulawayo’s 29 wards have expressed concerns that Zapu may actually be a Zanu PF creation designed to sap support for MDC-T.”
“All dismissed Zapu as a tired relic from the past without a future.”
Ambassador Ray said the civic leaders had “even fewer” words for former MDC president and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
He said Ngwenya predicted that Mutambara’s faction “won’t even maintain its current 10 seats in Parliament in the next election.”
Ray said when Mutambara ejected four popular MPs from the party earlier that year reportedly for voting with MDC-T “many in Matabeleland questioned Mutambara’s motives and came to believe that perhaps Mutambara was secretly supportive of Zanu-PF”.
The ambassador said Moyo told him people distrusted Mutambara because he ran his party without consulting his members, “citing the ejected MPs as evidence of his ‘dictatorial’ behaviour”.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo yesterday dismissed the allegations saying: “The three lied knowingly to the good ambassador to convince his government not to extend aid to Zapu. With or without external dollars, Zapu will triumph, especially in Bulawayo and Matabeleland.”