Tempers flared at the emotionally-charged burial of Zanu PF Mashonaland West Proportional Representation MP Joan Tsogorani in Kadoma yesterday amid accusations she was bewitched by fellow party members jealous of her political rise.
Tsogorani (nee Mashoko), who was 43, passed away on Monday after suffering from hypertension-related complications for some weeks, which resulted in her turning blind before succumbing to respiratory failure at a private hospital in Harare.
In graveside eulogies, speakers, who included Zanu PF members, insinuated First Lady Grace Mugabe was fed with malicious rumours by "witches", which led to her firing Tsogorani from the Zanu PF women's league provincial post.
"As Zanu PF, we can notice at this funeral those who have chosen to absent themselves. These are cannibals who eat people — down with them," Zanu PF national executive member Loscious Tarasikirwa said.
Mashonaland West provincial political commissar Simon Solomon made a veiled attack on Grace and her trusted lieutenants for backstabbing Tsogorani.
"There is no one who knows how they will die. But if someone repeatedly threatens another saying they are going to die, do we have to look for a witch elsewhere? Better to fire us and allow us to live peacefully with our families than to kill us. Don't kill us, fire us," he said.
Kadoma Central legislator Fani Phiri weighed in saying: "When Tsogorani told me she wanted to contest the 2013 Senatorial elections, l warned her that politics was like being in a gamepark full of wild animals that would hound her. I told her: ‘If you are not careful, you will go'. Now the predators have pounced on her like Cecil the lion used to prey on others. But what l know is that they will soon meet their own demise.
"Let's remove the demons of hatred in Zanu PF, let's unite. We should be talking about how many closed companies have reopened, not how many people have died," Phiri said.
But it was war veteran Mark Dube who launched a direct attack on Grace.
"The First Lady has to seriously introspect, sit down and assess the calibre of her subordinates in the party. She must know she is working with crooks. But a word of warning is, if you want to kill us, we are prepared to kill also. Don't see war veterans as fools. You are busy fighting for positions, while the gains of the liberation struggle are jeopardised," he said.
"Senior officials here present should go and tell the First Lady she is working with dishonest people, who feed her lies.
Before working with them, did you vet them? Be careful not to compromise the President [Robert Mugabe]'s legacy. Do you want to kill Mugabe sytematically? When Masvingo [Great Zimbabwe] was built, do you think they built it by moving stones haphazardly?"
Tsogorani was voted Zanu PF Proportional Representation MP in 2013 through the women's quota.
Prior to taking up her political post, the late legislator had served 13 years at Kadoma City Council as a secretary.
She was recently stripped of her position as women's league provincial deputy chairperson following a fall-out with the First Lady.
The late MP had been branded "Gamatox" and was targeted for recall from Parliament in the on-going purges of politicians allegedly linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Tsogorani was the only provincial executive member who refused to sign a petition calling for Constance Shamu's ouster, before taking over the reins in an acting capacity until June this year.
However, the late MP was to face her waterloo after crossing the First Lady's path, resulting in her unceremonious removal as acting provincial head of the women's wing and replaced by one Vambe.
Tsogorani is survived by her husband, Otten, and three children.