PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday publicly rebuked war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde, accusing them of plotting his downfall and seeking to block First Lady Grace Mugabe’s political rise.
Addressing hordes of Zanu PF supporters gathered at the party’s headquarters in Harare shortly before he attended a crunch politburo meeting, Mugabe ordered the war veterans to urgently regroup and elect a new executivebefore the party’s elective congress in December.
Mugabe said there was nothing wrong with his wife, Grace, entering the political fray, adding that his late wife, Sally, had played a pivotal role in the formation of the Women’s League.
“So, Jabulani is now ruling in the party. Even my first wife was present when the Women’s League was formed in Maputo [Mozambique], so if that one was accepted by the party, why should this one [Grace] be rejected by the party?” Mugabe queried.
“The party’s constitution has never said a First Lady cannot be a leader. When she (Grace) was nominated, she asked me and I told her the decision should be hers. She accepted and what should pain people? And to Jabulani, why is he pained by her decision?”
A livid Mugabe added: “I heard he wants to go to war against me. So with his war veterans he wants to fight me with my soldiers? I will have to see when he is planning it.”
Sibanda on Monday threatened to mobilise war veterans to march to State House to register their displeasure over the way the party was being run. He also threatened to block any attempts to stage “a bedroom or boardroom coup” in apparent reference to Grace’s spirited campaign to push out Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Mugabe also sensationally claimed that Sibanda had received one vehicle from the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and five more from a company headed by Mbire MP David Butau in Mashonaland Central to facilitate his campaign against the First Family.
In what seemed to be a direct attack on Mujuru, Mugabe took the crowd down memory lane narrating how the liberation struggle was waged, saying they fought the war to free ZImbabwe and not to gain individual glory.
Mugabe said Zanu PF would not hesitate to dump people who wanted to impose themselves as leaders of the party in order to get political power and amass wealth.
Mujuru is reportedly angling to succeed the 90-year-old Zanu PF leader and is pitted against Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also reporting eyeing the Presidency.
“Fulfilling the wishes of the people is what will make them realise you are a good leader, but if you say, let me rule so that you use the political power to make money, even if you are a veteran of the struggle, we say we don’t want you,” Mugabe said.
Although Mugabe in his speech did not explicitly mention Mujuru by name, the crowd kept shouting “Mujuru, Mujuru, Mujuru” while others chanted “Dotito”, apparently in reference to Mujuru’s Mt Darwin West constituency.
Mugabe threatened to name and shame extortionist party leaders who demanded business stakes from all prospective foreign investors seeking to set up business in the country.
“We want all those companies to be named. We have a file. We will go through it. But we want that truth, not lies.”
When the crowd started shouting for Mujuru to resign, Mugabe said: “We will be going to congress so that we find a way to effectively implement ZimAsset [Zanu PF’s economic blueprint]. We will also look at our party structures. Those that we think want money and are unsuitable, we will drop them.”
Mugabe said people would be dropped, but Zanu PF had its own ways of solving problems the same way couples divorce; the men gives the wife time to “pack their bags and go”.
Earlier before Mugabe addressed the crowd, youths, war veterans and women were chanting the slogan, “Down with Gamatox” in reference to Mutasa and Mujuru. Mugabe pretended not to know what Gamatox meant and asked Mutasa, who coined the word.
Mugabe blasted provincial chairpersons for attempting to disrupt Grace’s rallies.
“KuMashonaland East, there is Ray Kaukonde. If you are a provincial chairperson, it does not mean you have all the powers. Who are you? [Temba] Mliswa [Mashonaland West chairman] thinks he has been given kingly powers more than Mugabe. He says his word is final,” Mugabe said.
At her orphanage in Mazowe, Grace savaged Kaukonde and openly declared her dislike towards the Mashonaland East former governor.