SENIOR Zanu PF officials are reportedly on a witch-hunt to find out which of its members are allegedly backing Zanu PF youth member Sybeth Musengezi, who is challenging the ascendancy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the leadership of the party.
Musengezi yesterday told NewsDay that his life was in peril, with death threats and intimidation from some members of the ruling party increasing in frequency.
He filed his challenge last year, but Mnangagwa’s lawyers have been pressing him to drop the High Court case while some Zanu PF activists promised to take unspecified action against him.
Mnangagwa became the Zanu PF secretary in 2017 after a coup that toppled long-time ruler, the late President Robert Mugabe, but Musengezi alleges that he did not follow procedure and, therefore, his elevation to that position was illegal.
Musengezi last month filed another urgent High Court application seeking to stop Mnangagwa from calling and presiding over Zanu PF’s upcoming elective congress next month before the case he brought before the court is finalised.
Sources in the party believe Musengezi is a product of an alleged alliance between former G40 members and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga in a bid to scuttle Mnangagwa’s bid to contest in 2023 elections, allegations which Musengezi has refuted.
The resilience shown by Musengezi has also reportedly rattled ruling party officials.
Yesterday, Musengezi told NewsDay that he has been receiving death threats regularly and that they have since been escalated ahead of the court sitting on Wednesday this week.
“Yes, in recent weeks, I’ve seen a number of unmarked vehicles parked just outside of my yard. Sometimes they park when I’m not there and my colleagues would call me to say there is a vehicle or vehicles without plates parked at home,” Musengezi said.
“I personally confronted those people and they just drive off. I can’t really say I’m safe because I don’t know what these people are up to, but if anything is to happen to me, obviously it is people linked to the case.
“I have received threats since I launched the legitimacy application last year, with people trying to intimidate me to withdraw and at one point, was arrested and detained for 10 days on a spurious charge to try and force me to withdraw the matter. So, after realising that threats and detention have failed, they have resorted to intimidation tactics.”
He said he would not be shaken by threats since he was doing the right thing for the country.
“I am not a criminal so I have nothing to fear. I am just doing the right thing for Zanu PF and the country,” Musengezi said.
His lawyer Nqobani Sithole of Ncube Attorneys confirmed the death threats.
“I can confirm there are unmarked vehicles following him and there are suspicious people always around him. He has communicated to me in that regard.
“Soon after going to court, things have not been easy for him. He has been seeing suspicious cars following him and has been getting suspicious phone calls. This escalated since the setting of the September 21, 2022 date,” Sithole said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa were fruitless as he was not picking calls.
Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha claimed not to know who Musengezi was.
“I don’t even know this person. Who is he? That is news to me,” Bimha said.