Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Retired Brigadier Agrippa Mutambara is battling to fend off an internal coup after party interim secretary-general Kudakwashe Bhasikiti on Tuesday wrote to him announcing he had been fired from the party.
By Everson Mushava
Mutambara was, however, defiant insisting he was still the leader of the party, claiming it was, instead, Bhasikiti, who had been suspended by the party’s steering committee on Monday over various allegations that included trying to usurp power using unconstitutional means.
In a letter to Mutambara dated October 24, Bhasikiti said the ZimPF leader had been fired because he had failed to resolve allegations he had raped activist, Judith Todd before the party’s elective congress due on Saturday.
Bhasikiti also claimed Mutambara was stampeding the party to a congress without first establishing district and provincial structures.
He also accused Mutambara of signing an alliance with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T without consulting the party as well as spearheading changes to the founding values of the party.
Mutambara, according to Bhasikiti, would be replaced by party elders, former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and Claudius Makova, as interim leaders until the party holds an elective congress.
“In the meantime, ZimPF shall continue with alliance negotiations and move forward under the stewardship of Cde R Gumbo, Cde D Mutasa and Retired Colonel Makova, Chitauro and K Bhasikiti as interim secretary-general in accordance with our existing original constitution,” part of Bhasikiti’s letter to Mutambara read.
But Mutambara fired back yesterday, saying he would only be removed by a congress, in which he would be the sole candidate following the close of the nomination process.
He claimed Bhasikiti had been suspended in a steering committee meeting held on Monday and was under investigation over various misconduct charges that included manoeuvring to take power through unconstitutional means.
“I am still in charge and we will be going ahead with our congress as planned,” Mutambara said. “The steering committee met on Monday and resolved to suspend Bhasikiti. He cannot fire me together with Gumbo and Mutasa because they are not members of the party at the moment. They left the party.”
According to a suspension letter seen by NewsDay, Bhasikiti was suspended to pave way for investigations and his offence was purporting to have removed a duly-nominated president-designate.
“It was unanimously agreed that in terms of article 13:352, article 50:217, article 35:125, and article 36; 153, 154 of our draft constitution, you be suspended from the position of secretary-general with immediate effect,” part of the letter signed by treasurer-general, Munacho Mutezo reads.
Gumbo yesterday said both Mutambara and Bhasikiti should leave them out of their factional fights.
“Just to correct Mutambara, we are the founder members of ZimPF. We are members of the party, but we were simply against his leadership because of some reasons now expressed by Bhasikiti,” he said.
“We had always said it. Mutambara cannot be voted for because of his skeletons. The Judith Todd issue has always been a problem in the party and we were against his leadership, but the likes of Bhasikiti put him there.
“We are happy Bhasikiti has now seen the light about what we were saying.”
Gumbo said he was not an interim leader of the party, as he remained an elder and founder together with Mutasa and Makova.