UNDER-fire Presidential Affairs Minister and Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa has dismissed claims that he is involved in a plot to assassinate President Mugabe, saying he is the one who takes care of the Head of State.

This follows revelations at last week's Extraordinary Politburo meeting that Mutasa had boasted to one of his lovers that the President would be shot.

"If President Mugabe blocks the ascendancy of VP Mujuru to the Presidency at the Zanu-PF congress, then he will be shot."

The woman subsequently reported the matter to party authorities.

Mutasa refuted the claims, which shocked the Politburo – even members who have been backing VP Mujuru – saying they were unfounded and malicious. He said President Mugabe's security lies in his hands.

"In your own capacity can you believe what they are saying? I am the one who takes care of the President's security. Ndini ndinowachengetedza. I cannot assassinate him. Those are malicious rumours. I have been serving this ministry for years working in his office and that is why he has been appointing me to the same office because I serve him well. I serve my master well. How then can I turn against him?" he said.

Mutasa could not be pressured to disclose more, saying he did not want to talk about it.

The woman's revelations resonate well with a voice recording of the party's suspended spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, who was recorded saying: "Kana (President) Mugabe akaramba achipusha Mujuru out, tichamubvisa sezvakaitwa (Laurent) Kabila."

The DRC's president was killed in January 2001 by a member of his security team.

Mutasa is also reported by the same woman to have said: "This time we (Mujuru faction) are ready to show Mugabe at congress that he has no support. So if he refuses to listen to us, we will take him out."

Analysts have since said it was hazardous for President Mugabe to work closely wiith someone plotting his downfall as well as leaving such a sensitive ministerial post in the hands of a person with a devious agenda.

Meanwhile Mutasa, has been urged to step down with immediate effect, said a Zanu-PF Central Committee member in Manicaland.

In a no-holds-barred interview on Tuesday at her Tasendekera Farm in Penhalonga, the outspoken legislator for Makoni South, Mandi Chimene, said: "We have the likes of Didymus Mutasa being implicated in President Mugabe's assassination plot and being the Minister of Presidential Affairs, he no longer qualifies to hold such a portfolio because he can be feeding President Mugabe with wrong information for selfish gains."

'Mutasa must go now'

Chimene, who was firing from the hip, accused Mutasa of being the man behind all the problems bedevilling Zanu-PF in Manicaland.

She said Mutasa, being the most senior person in the province, was to blame for factionalism and all other problems haunting the smooth running of Zanu-PF in Manicaland.

"The problem is that we have leaders like Didymus Mutasa who are always out to pursue selfish agendas. They have ambitions and they try to whip everyone to follow their line of thinking. Manicaland is one of the best provinces in the country, but it is always suffering from leadership crisis. There is gross corruption in Manicaland with girlfriends and concubines of some chefs having farms at the expense of deserving cadres.

"The suspension of three Manicaland provincial co-ordination committee members Mvundura, Kasu and Kaunye is a welcome development because they were using their positions to whip people into their line of thinking.

"There was no longer freedom of expression in the party as people were made to think in one way.

"Some of us were told in our face that we should forget about having a seat in the Central Committee. The same applies to the likes of Muchinguri," said Chimene.

She said as a way of stopping the madness associated with the jostling for positions, President Mugabe should appoint the two Vice-Presidents.

"We know that there were people angling for positions in the party's presidium and I am in full support with the decision taken by the Politburo that only President Mugabe must stand for elections at the forthcoming National People's Congress to be held in Harare.

"President Mugabe should choose people he trusts to be around him and not to surround him with wolves clothed in sheep skin. We have learnt from past mistakes and this should be corrected once and for all. We cannot allow our icon to be surrounded by sell-outs busy plotting his ouster and assassination. We have opened our eyes now and we will not tolerate any nonsense," added Chimene in a telephone interview on Wednesday night.

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