There was drama on Thursday when President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special advisor and war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa exchanged harsh words with National Patriotic Front (NPF) spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire during a public debate in Harare.
The debate was organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) for mainstream political parties to unpack their policies on candidate selection and give highlights on their ongoing campaigns.
Mutsvangwa was visibly irked by canning rantings by Mawarire, chief among them accusing Mnangagwa’s close relative Tarirai David Mnangagwa of being a corrupt foreign currency dealer who was contributing significantly to the creation of illegal parallel markets.
This activated a harsh exchange of words between both parties and the house was brought to a standstill as the audience reinforced the politicians’ sentiments with rowdiness in support of their respective political party representatives.
“The accusations if indeed they have any basis of fact, they are very grave. I do hope the gentleman that uttered those accusations and mentioned those names will get a chance to defend them before the court of law,” Mutsvangwa said.
Mawarire was defiant and refused to retract or apologise for all the provocative utterances that he had directed towards Mutsvangwa and his superiors in Zanu PF, while maintaining that the alleged corruption case by Mnangagwa’s relative was on record with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
“I will not apologise if at all you want me to apologise because this information has a docket at the Anti-Corruption Commission and it is on record,” Mawarire responded.
He kept on referring to the ruling party as “Junta PF” in his contributions and this further annoyed Mutsvangwa, who had to resort to rubbishing the whole chaotic debate process, reminding all political parties represented that elections were not won at debates, but in wards and at the ballot where the ruling party was registering its footprint.
Tempers only subsided when Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni came to the aid of the moderator Violet Gonda who had failed to bring the house to order, by urging all political players and panellists to embrace politics of tolerance and engage on discourse maturely.
The debate was also attended by the two warring MDC T factions led by Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa, through their respective representatives Linda Masarira (spokesperson) and Douglas Mwonzora (secretary general).
Despite playing on the sidelines as the debate was largely a Zanu PF and NPF show, Mwonzora reinforced ongoing reports that MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa was willing to bury the hatchet with former deputy president Thokozani Khupe and engage in talks for a possible reunification.
“The split is very regrettable and we are working flat out to make sure that we try to mend the fissures. We see value in our recently departed sisters,” Mwonzora said.