‘Plot to arrest’ Mnangagwa as Zanu PF infighting escalates

A clique in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) was planning to arrest Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as factional wars intensified in the ruling Zanu PF party ahead of its December congress, documents obtained by NewsDay allege.

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by CHARLES LAITON /XOLISANI NCUBE

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Mnangagwa was locked in a fierce battle with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed President Robert Mugabe, which culminated in an unprecedented purge that cost Zimbabwe’s first female Vice-President her position.

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Documents in our possession show that ZACC was drawn into the battle between Mnangagwa and Mujuru and allegedly plotted to arrest the Justice minister for undisclosed corruption charges.

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Disgruntled ZACC officials on February 25 wrote to Mnangagwa alerting him to the alleged plot.

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The officials accused ZACC acting boss Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo of working with Mujuru to bring down the Vice-President.

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Mujuru and Pondo yesterday dismissed the allegations contained in the letter saying they were cooked up.

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According to the letter to Mnangagwa, the ZACC intelligence and investigating officers allege Pondo and Home Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya were the brains behind the plot.

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The letter details how the planned arrest was to be executed in the run-up to the party’s December congress .

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“(We) . . . have decided to bring it to your attention the following malpractices and corrupt activities that are being done by the management at the above institution,” the officers wrote.

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“This conduct, if not dealt with urgently, will have a negative bearing on the image of the Zanu PF and government in the fight against corruption.

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“Soon after his appointment as ZACC acting boss, Pondo recalled all high-profile cases, which involved senior Zanu PF and government officials from the investigations and surrendered them to Melusi Matshiya at the Ministry (of Home Affairs), who then handed them to the Gamatox faction leaders before their demise at the December congress.”

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The Gamatox faction refers to supporters of Mujuru and the ZACC officers claim the information would have been used to decampaign the former Vice-President’s rivals.

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“This information was being planned to be used to de-campaign the Zanu PF leadership as a rogue and corrupt party and government,” the officers wrote.

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The officers allege that Pondo, a senior member of the police force who, before his appointment to ZACC, was the head of the Border Control and Minerals Unit, enjoyed “strong support of the Mujuru camp”.

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They claimed he was “handsomely rewarded to head the anti-graft team” so that he could arrest senior Zanu PF members, including Mnangagwa.

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“Pondo is abusing his office by being used by the Gamatox faction (Mujuru camp) to fight political and personal wars at the expense of doing his job,” the letter added.

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“He was the link between the Mujuru business empire and their partners who smuggle gold outside the country.”

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The officers allege that Pondo had been instrumental in allowing gold to be smuggled out of the country by the Mujuru faction when he was the police head of the minerals section.

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Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi was accused of being part of a corrupt clique that was using Pondo.

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The letter claims that in the build-up to the December congress, “the Gamatox faction had to position themselves strategically so that they would fight back by using State machinery like ZACC”.

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Mujuru, who has been accused of corruption by Zanu PF, has not been charged with any crime since her ouster in December. She said the latest allegations were being peddled by idle minds.

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“Ask them to give you evidence of what they are saying. You can even ask Mohadi if he has ever worked with me in that regard or even spoken to me this year,” Mujuru said. “That is what people with idle minds do. They create fictitious issues and want to tarnish other people’s reputation.”

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Pondo dismissed the allegations saying he had no idea where they were coming from.

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“My brother, I don’t know what you are saying,” he said.

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Mohadi was said to be attending a politburo meeting when NewsDay contacted him for comment while Matshiya could not be reached.

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It could not be established yesterday if Mnangagwa had indeed received the letter as he was also at the politburo meeting.

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The ZACC officers claim Mujuru was out to destroy Zanu PF and urged immediate action against those implicated.

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“If nothing is done about this matter very soon, they will accomplish their mission by using our hostile enemies to publish damaging allegations against the party and government,” the letter added.

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“It is recommended that Pondo’s appointment be reversed and he be recalled to ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) since he is still on the police payroll and has not resigned.

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“May all the Gamatox faction still remaining in government, including Mohadi and Matshiya, be flushed out or reshuffled.”

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Zanu PF factional wars have been intensifying over the past few weeks with threats that more senior officials would be expelled for allegedly sabotaging Mugabe. – NewsDay