Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, has scoffed at criticism levelled against him by President Robert Mugabe following the chaotic preparations to the Zanu PF youth and women's league conferences.
Mutasa, who is the acting finance secretary, was last week publicly dressed down by Mugabe who blamed him for the chaos that blighted the party events.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru was also not spared public humiliation on Friday when the Women's League members chose not to endorse her incumbency as the party moves towards the crucial elective congress in December, while they stampeded to endorse Mugabe and his wife Grace's positions.
According to the party's constitution, Mutasa was supposed to ensure that all the logistical arrangements for the two conferences were in place.
But Mutasa said he could not do much as the party coffers were empty. He defended himself against Mugabe's attacks saying the fact that Zanu PF was broke was public knowledge. He didn't reveal 'what happened' to the money the party had, but only said President Mugabe knows the truth.
Addressing the 4 000-strong Women's League delegates at the closing ceremony of their conference, Mugabe blasted Mutasa, questioning why the party was broke when it owned companies and farms.
Speaking in Shona, Mugabe ranted: "We are told the party is penniless, that in fact we are accumulating debts through continuous bank overdrafts. Yet we know we own such companies as Tregers, Catercraft and Zidco which own several fuel stations all over the country. We also own a farm in Goromonzi where some of my cattle and goats are kept — some of which were slaughtered and eaten by our boys like Mujuru [the late army general Solomon] and Ushewokunze [the late nationalist and minister Herbert]. Our administration should wake up!"
Contacted for comment, Mutasa shot back at Mugabe: "He [the President]knows the truth and I can't explain it further. Why are you troubling me? I am telling you that it's an issue the President knows. He knows why there is no money in the party. It's a known issue," he said.
Asked a week ago if Mugabe's remarks were an indictment on the conference organisers, Mutasa said: "I wouldn't know. Ask him [President Mugabe] or his secretary. I am not his spokesman."
Mutasa is said to support Vice-President Mujuru's alleged faction which is reportedly under fire from Mugabe who appears to have taken sides with a rival faction linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa's alleged faction, whose main backers are said to include Oppah Muchinguri, is said to have found Mugabe's favour after it supported Mugabe's wife Grace's rise to the dizzy heights of Zanu PF politics.
Muchinguri sacrificed her powerful Women's League leadership for Mugabe's wife in a move analysts say was a strategy to curry favour with Mugabe and bring back to life a faction that had been effectively decimated by the Mujuru faction. Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa deny leading factions in Zimbabwe.
Analysts said Muchinguri could — with the reciprocal backing from the First Lady — be angling for a higher position in the party, probably Mutasa's administration seat which Mugabe has publicly criticised for allegedly being "inept".
Mugabe also used words such as "rubbish" and "dirt" to describe party bigwigs whom he accused of having used money to obtain the results that came out of the party Youth League elections, largely won by the Mujuru faction.
As the attack on Mutasa became commonplace, following Mugabe's outbursts, even deputy Foreign Affairs minister Chris Mutsvangwa found it easy to blast the party administrator.
He openly accused him of abrogating his duties and fuelling factionalism, adding his end in the party was nigh.
Mutsvangwa was quoted in The Herald yesterday taking a dig on Mutasa describing him as "lazy and running down the party from the cock-pit".
"There is method in Mutasa's indolence. Mutasa has been deliberately running down the party apparatus and intentionally sapping its capacity. He neglected all duty with the sole purpose to engender a climate where he and his cohorts would spawn frenetic chaos as a prelude to a putschist usurpation of power," Mutsvangwa alleged.
"Feigning laziness, he was actually destroying the party from his vantage point at the core of the leadership."
He added: "Totally oblivious of his incapacity, Mutasa has been busy creating all sorts of office posts in the party and government and according himself political titles like political guru of Manicaland Province. With no rule book, he discards the party constitution and makes arbitrary decisions in the name of the President of the Republic then looks up to an un-elected Vice-President Mujuru for defence and succour."
An analyst who declined to be identified yesterday described Mutsvangwa's "rabid" attack on Mutasa and the reference to VP Mujuru as "an un-elected" as "clear revenge on the attack on his wife by Mutasa in the province".
Mutasa and Mutsvangwa's wife, Monica, have constantly been on each other's throats and the defeat of the latter in recent provincial elections have been linked to their fight with Mutasa.
Mutasa yesterday threatened to expose Mutsvangwa, describing him as bogus.
He said: "I will expose people like Mutsvangwa. They are bogus. Why do you want to be the first to have my response to them? I have said I will respond on Tuesday and give it to all of you [media]."