Labour minister Nicholas Goche had to flee for dear life yesterday after youths aligned to a faction headed by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa pounced on him, demanding that he be cleared of treason allegations before he could attend any party meetings.
Goche was due to attend a provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) meeting in Bindura yesterday when youths mobbed him, threatening to beat him up if he insisted on attending.
This follows reports in the State media alleging that Goche went to South Africa and Israel to hire hit men to assassinate President Robert Mugabe as factional fighting climaxed in Zanu PF ahead of next week’s congress.
Goche is reportedly aligned to a faction led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru in the race to succeed Mugabe.
The duo, together with ousted party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, has been accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
They have, however, denied the allegations, claiming it was a sting operation by their political foes who wanted to set them on a collision course with Mugabe.
No concrete evidence has been produced to support the assassination claims, with most analysts saying the charges were trumped
According to a Zanu PF insider who refused to be named, Goche was at the Bindura Zanu PF party offices to attend the PCC meeting.
Unbeknown to him, some youths had been hired to demonstrate against him following the allegations.
“The youths had already been mobilised when he arrived. They were demanding that he be fired from the party over the allegations to assassinate President Mugabe and fanning factionalism in Mashonaland Central province,” the source said.
“Goche had to run for his life after youths besieged him and threatened to overturn his car.”
Goche’s mobile number was not available yesterday.
Provincial chairperson Luke Mushore, his deputy Sydney Chidamba, secretary for administration Joseph Mapiki and provincial women’s league boss Dorothy Mashonganyika, among others, have already been booted out over allegations of supporting Mujuru and attempting to sabotage First Lady Grace Mugabe’s political rise, as the party edges close to its December elective congress.
Mugabe, on Saturday, before addressing a 12-hour politburo meeting, asked Goche about the allegations and jokingly warned Masvingo Provincial chairperson Kudakwashe Bhasikiti that he belonged to the “wrong basket”, inferring faction.
Bhasikiti is also believed to be in the Mujuru camp.
Meanwhile, during deliberations in Saturday’s politburo meeting, outgoing Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and other party members were said to also have pushed for the ouster of Mutasa, accusing him of plotting to kill Mugabe and fanning factionalism in the party.
But the push was blocked by Mugabe, a long-time ally of Mutasa’s.
In the previous politburo meeting, such calls were made again, but Mugabe is said to have sprung to Mutasa’s defence, openly telling members that he and Mutasa were long-time friends.
The faction linked to Mnangagwa alleged that it had recordings of Mutasa telling a “girlfriend” that they would kill Mugabe if he failed to cede power to Mujuru.
Mutasa, as well, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
So far, eight provincial chairpersons and several party officials have been booted out for aligning themselves to Mujuru.
Mashonaland former provincial chair Temba Mliswa, who was the first to be booted out, pulled a surprise on Friday when he was voted into the party’s central committee.
But sources told NewsDay the Mnangagwa camp had already sent a team to the province to overturn Mliswa’s election to the central committee as the purge continues.
There have also been calls for the arrest of members of the Mujuru faction over the alleged assassination plots in Saturday’s politburo meeting as the Mnangagwa camp is leaving no stone unturned in crippling its opponent’s political empire.
In the Saturday marathon politburo meeting which ended in the early hours of yesterday, Zanu PF agreed to constitutional changes, allowing Mugabe to directly appoint his deputies.
Zanu PF chairperson and acting spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the party had agreed to far-reaching amendments to its constitution, but refused to give details.
He said a central committee meeting would be held in a few days’ time to adopt the changes.