Former minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa has turned down an invitation to join the newly-formed National Patriotic Front (NPF), saying it is nothing but a tribal party doing the bidding for deposed ex-president, Robert Mugabe.
A former close ally of Mugabe, the country’s first black Speaker of Parliament told the Daily News yesterday that he would rather stay in retirement than join the NPF because it was no different from Zanu PF.
Mutasa, 82, had a private meeting with NPF leader, retired brigadier-general Ambrose Mutinhiri at his residence in Harare, sending the rumour mill into overdrive amid speculation that the former Marondera West legislator had convinced him to join the new political formation.
“It is true that I met Mutinhiri, but I am not yet their member. I am there for the people to consult. I meet anyone from Tendai Biti to Nelson Chamisa but that does not mean I will be joining them,” Mutasa told the Daily News.
“I think there is no big difference between the two parties — Zanu PF and the NPF. The party is tribalistic. This is a party that is looking at a particular region and not the whole country,” he added.
While Mugabe has denied any involvement in the new political outfit, Mutasa — who worked closely with him from the 1970s to 2014 when they fell out — insisted yesterday that the former president was the brains behind the political outfit.
Presently, Mutinhiri and NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire are the only two political figures that have nailed their NPF colours to the mast although it is believed that the majority of those who belonged to the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which was resistant to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s succession bid, could be working for the NPF behind the scenes.
On its part, the NPF has publicly declared it has the blessings of Mugabe, claims that have riled Zanu PF which regards the 94-year-old’s machinations as meant to divide its votes ahead of make-or-break elections around June/July.
Mugabe has insisted that his removal last November was illegal and is accusing Mnangagwa of having betrayed him.
Mutasa told the Daily News that Mugabe was being hoisted with his own petard, considering how he manipulated the law during his 37 years of misrule.
“It will take long to see Mugabe; he called me a donkey, he said so many bad things about me. If I forgive him, I will then engage him but not now. It is sad that he now sees that the people who are now leading are doing what he used to do when he was still in power. He doesn’t want people to do what he used to do to them. Why is he interfering in politics, he deserves what he is getting, he is the one throwing the stones at the kids, the kids didn’t go to his home,” said Mutasa.
Critics accuse Mugabe of running down the country and spawning poverty through his populist policies, human and property rights abuses that provoked the ire of western countries that went on to isolate the landlocked southern African country.
Unemployment in Zimbabwe is still high and cash shortages persist despite Mnangagwa’s spirited attempts at breathing life in an otherwise panting economy.
Since his second coming into politics — Mugabe has invited the scorn and umbrage of his former party — with some sections now agitating for his expulsion from Zanu PF despite Mnangagwa’s vow to “uphold his legacy”.
At the dawn of the new dispensation, many thought Mutasa would retrace his footsteps back to Zanu PF.
He, however, told the Daily News last year that he was still looking at what Mnangagwa has to offer.
“Zanu PF is not as strong as it used to be right now but whether they win the elections depends on what they do, if it was still active they would win, they have strong winning points, they now know the person who was causing trouble in Zanu PF and that would be an entry point,” said Mutasa.
“But right now, I am no longer actively involved, I am looking at what is happening across the country in all political parties but it will not lead to a truly democratic society, who will take us there, that’s is the question, if Mnangagwa holds free and fair elections I will praise him for that, I will salute him. I am sure he is capable because he has succeeded in doing things that he has set himself to do.”
Meanwhile, Mawarire was not amused by claims by Mutasa that the NPF was a tribal formation.
He said the party abhors tribalism; something he said was familiar in Zanu PF.
“As NPF, we are building a national platform not a tribal citadel. We are patriots who don’t identify with tribes or any such narrow ascription meant to divide our people. We leave tribal politics to Zanu PF with its blatant nepotism that has yielded a village Cabinet now referred to as Moyo, Sibanda, Shumba and associates,” he said.
“We have built our party on the basis of skill and competency not some primitive tribal or ethnic consideration. Right now, the two members of the executive that have come out in the open . . . Ambrose and I, are we both Zezuru? Not that we care about ethnic or tribal origins, but if we were to even entertain their tribal arguments, I come from Masvingo and Mutinhiri comes from Mashonaland East. Does that make both of us Zezuru?
“We haven’t as yet publicised the full complement of our young and vibrant national executive yet tribalists have already started making tribal remarks about people they are not even aware of. That should show you that those making such allegations are the real tribalists who have no place in a national and patriotic movement (such) as ours,” said Mawarire.