Bhasikiti blasts ‘liar’ Mnangagwa

MASVINGO – As Zanu PF’s ugly factional and succession wars continue to escalate, a fuming Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (pictured) — the recently fired Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister — has pointedly labelled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa a shameless liar.

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In an exclusive interview with the Daily News yesterday, Bhasikiti — who has been publicly harangued by President Robert Mugabe for being a close ally of former vice president Joice Mujuru — rubbished sensational claims by Mnangagwa at the weekend that he had raised money from some companies to bankroll the nonagenarian’s ouster and assassination.

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“I want to set the record straight and categorically state that what came out in the Sunday Mail is not true. I never at any time fundraised money to hurt the president.

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“The only money that I fundraised from Tongaat and Bikita Minerals was for the (disputed December 2014 party) congress and all the proceeds were channelled to the party bank account,” Bhasikiti said.

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Mnangagwa, who has lately been unusually garrulous, was quoted by

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State media at the weekend literally threatening the two companies implicated in the untested political conspiracy (Bikita Minerals and

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Tongaat Hullet) with unspecified action on the grounds that they were allegedly funding anti-Mugabe activities.

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“What do we say to Tongaat Hulett and Bikita Minerals which were behind funding Didymus Mutasa and his ‘gamatox’ team who wanted to remove President Mugabe from power even by killing him?

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“Bhasikiti was fired because of Tongaat Hulett and they should be warned that we will not hesitate to deal with them,” the feared VP was quoted saying.

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But Bhasikiti rejected the allegations “with contempt” yesterday, saying that the money he had received from companies in his home province went towards funding the party’s December congress, and not to any party faction as alleged by Mnangagwa.

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“Tongaat Hullet donated 20 000 dollars which it deposited directly to our Zanu PF account at the Party Headquarters. Bikita minerals donated 20 000 in the Zanu PF account at Bank ABC in Masvingo, which was transferred to the party’s HQ account.

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“As is procedural, all proceeds were directed to the party headquarters, as they were raised,” Bhasikiti said.

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Bhasikiti claimed last year, when he was still a member of the politburo, that he had written a thesis on Mugabe’s leadership, something he said was a sign of his unquestionable loyalty to the 91-year-old leader.

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This was after Mugabe had told him to his face, and in front of fellow politburo members and gathered journalists that he was skirting on thin ice because of his alleged support for Mujuru.

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“You should get out of the wrong basket. I hear that you are not consistent. Get into the right basket,” Mugabe told Bhasikiti then.

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Mugabe eventually moved to wield the axe against Bhasikiti last week, although the formal dismissal communication from the president’s office claimed that this action had been taken ostensibly because Bhasikiti’s “conduct had become inconsistent with his prescribed duties and functions”.

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Apart from Bhasikiti, Mugabe has fired 16 other ministers since December last year — all perceived to be close allies of Mujuru, with

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Zanu PF sources saying yesterday that the brutal purges are far from over.

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Surprisingly, and despite relieving the 17 bigwigs of their duties — amid the grave claims that Mujuru and her supporters were allegedly plotting to illegally oust Mugabe from power and to assassinate the nonagenarian — not a single person has so far been arraigned before the courts pertaining to the serious claims.

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Virtually all the victims of the ruthless purges have said that the coup plot and assassination claims are nothing more than a crude political hatchet job against them.

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In yesterday’s interview with the Daily News, Bhasikiti also revealed that he had sourced funds for the disputed congress from individuals and the corporate world amounting to $63 000 dollars and 23 beasts.

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Thus, he quipped tongue-in-cheek, that instead of being dismissed from government for “fundraising very well” for the party, he should be given a pat on the back.

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“But I have already thanked the President for what he did to me. I wrote a letter and sent it to him appreciating the time I served in government,” Bhasikiti said.

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In the meantime, the long-mooted court action by disaffected Zanu PF stalwarts is set to reach the bench this week, amid fears that the ruling party could soon split into two bitterly opposed camps.

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The spokesperson for the aggrieved party pioneers, Rugare Gumbo, said at the weekend that they were hopeful that their court challenge regarding the alleged illegality of Zanu PF’s disputed damp squib “elective” congress — that was held in Harare late last year — would begin soon.

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“Everything that’s needed to be done has been done and we are now ready. I can’t say much more now because the court process will determine everything,” Gumbo said.

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A well-placed source also confirmed the imminence of the court action, revealing further that “several top legal brains in the country have volunteered to work on the application, which is going to be one of the most bruising and intriguing legal battles ever fought in Zimbabwean courts”.

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“There are dozens of affidavits from bona fide Zanu PF members, party officials and others who were illegally kicked out by the illegal congress.

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“This court case will expose president Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF as tyrants who think they are above the law. It will be a very interesting case for the judges because the illegalities around that fake congress are so obvious and glaring, and there for all to see,” the source said.

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Retired, but hugely respected party elder, Cephas Msipa, was among the first prominent party members to criticise Mugabe openly last year for failing to deal with Zanu PF’s often violent infighting and for refusing to take advice on the party’s escalating factionalism.

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In an interview with the Daily News that was carried in mid October last year, Msipa said pointedly that he feared for the worst for Zanu PF if intra-party relations remained as fractious as they were in the ruling party.

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“If people continue being dissatisfied with what is happening, it is possible to have a split. I think the president has the key to all these issues. I hate factionalism and if it continues I don’t know what will become of the party,” he said ruefully.

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He also attacked the party faction aligned to Mnangagwa for behaving as if it “owned” Grace Mugabe — a development that he said was fuelling factionalism in the party.

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Among the disaffected party stalwarts are former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, who has courted the ire of his erstwhile Zanu PF comrades by continuing to present himself as the ruling party’s legitimate secretary for administration despite being “expelled” from the party last Wednesday.

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In a no-holds-barred statement he signed last year, Mutasa called for the nullification of all “purported constitutional amendments drafted and railroaded immediately before this so-called congress”, as well as the restoration of the “elective dignity of congress and the one-man one-vote principle as enunciated by our armed struggle and Constitution”.

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In another scathing press statement released on Thursday, Mutasa described his purported recent expulsion from the party as “null and void and a serious breach of our party constitution and indeed the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.

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“Over and above this, this disciplinary committee (which allegedly looked into his case) is improperly constituted anyway given that, the (party’s disputed December) congress and the First Secretary of the party unlawfully breached the party constitution by failing to elect the party national chairperson, who is the only one who can chair such a meeting,” he said.

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Amid this ongoing acrimony, many Zanu PF members fear that Mugabe, who turned 91 at the weekend, has abdicated his powers to his much younger wife, Grace, whose return from her two-month sojourn in the Far East a week ago marked the demise of not only Mutasa and Temba Mliswa, but also Bhasikiti who was fired on Thursday night.

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And with the ranks of disaffected party members swelling by the day,

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Gumbo said Mugabe and party hawks should brace themselves not only for their impending court challenge, but also for “other programmes aimed at restoring legitimacy” to Zanu PF.-Daily News