RECENT remarks by Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo to the effect that the party’s chairmanship was no longer a preserve for former PF-Zapu cadres have stirred a hornet’s nest among people from Matabeleland who had traditionally viewed the post as theirs.
NQOBILE BHEBHE/ SILAS NKALA
In separate interviews yesterday, former PF-Zapu officials said they now banked on President Robert Mugabe to salvage the situation and defend the “gentlemen’s agreement” he had with the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo at the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord.
With current chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo almost certain to be elevated to the post of Second Vice-President, former PF-Zapu members had already come up with candidates from the region to take over the chairmanship.
Manicaland-based Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has reportedly thrown his hat into the ring to contest for the post.
Zanu PF Matabeleland South spokesperson Jabulani Petshu Sibanda told our sister paper Southern Eye yesterday that Gumbo’s utterances were a threat to the Unity Accord.
The vocal war veteran said Mugabe was the only person who could decide if the gentlemen’s agreement on the chairperson could be tampered with.
“If there are or would be any changes to the Unity Accord, especially the gentlemen’s agreement, that notification should come from Mugabe himself during congress,” Sibanda said.
“Whenever we meet as former Zapu members, we wonder what will happen to the Unity Accord once Mugabe is no longer with
us. Will it be maintained in the same manner Nkomo left it? Mugabe is our hero and he has protected us.”
Another former Zapu member, Kotsho Dube, concurred with Sibanda saying: “I have been reading that in the papers. The province will soon come up with a position as soon as the party releases guidelines through the politburo. But there is no controversy. Individuals can say their views on the matter.”
Ex-Zipra combatant Max Mkandla said Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader Jabulani Sibanda was the most suitable candidate for the chairperson’s post because of what he termed his active role in representing Zipra politically.
Mkandla said there were a number of former Zapu members who wanted to be VP, but they were not suitable because they crossed to Zanu PF before the Unity Accord.
“Sibanda is the most suitable person for that position. People like [Transport minister] Obert Mpofu, who deserted Zapu and crossed to Zanu PF before the Unity Accord, obviously do not qualify,” he said.
“Sibanda is not a tribalist; it’s just that they hate him because he is vocal and speaks his mind, but he is the most qualified former Zapu cadre for the chairmanship.”
In 2008, former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa resurrected Zapu after he broke ranks with Zanu PF accusing Mugabe of disrespecting the Unity Accord.