PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption crusade has widened rifts in Zanu PF with some bigwigs in the ruling party accusing him of dumping them despite playing key roles in his ascendency to power.
Mnangagwa has promised tough action on graft and Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira was last Friday charged with corruption involving $95 million siphoned from State pension fund, National Social Security Authority (NSSA). She is the first senior government official to be interrogated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) under a new leadership which was appointed by Mnangagwa recently.
Mupfumira’s arrest by Zacc followed the release by Zanu PF youths of a list of senior party and government officials they alleged were corruption kingpins. The list, that included Mupfumira, had several names of party heavyweights such as Obert Mpofu, Joram Gumbo and Jacob Mudenda. The youths, believed to have the blessing of Mnangagwa, have threatened to release more names.
The naming and shaming of party bigwigs, the failure by Mnangagwa to defend them and the arrest of Mupfumira has sent shock waves in the party, with officials alleging that the President was using the crackdown on graft to get rid of potential sources of political trouble for him.
“This corruption thing is a new political battleground,” one top official said.
“The President thinks he will earn public support, but, in fact, by arresting some top people who put their political lives on the line for him, this is now dividing the party. Top officials are now unsure of what is happening in the party. They feel they will be targeted too.”
The source added: “Some officials are meeting to find the best way to respond to this. They believed that if ever the President was sincere about fighting corruption, he should start in his own backyard, including arresting his own children and cartel leaders around him. Anything short of that is political targeting.”
According to the officials, most top party members feel let down because they sacrificed their political lives to support Mnangagwa when he was hounded out of the party, government and country by former President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe following a coup in November 2017 and party members are contemplating ganging up against him for failing to support them.
“They are saying Mnangagwa only thinks about himself and his family and no one else. They feel Mnangagwa is poor at protecting those who sacrifice for him, something they felt Mugabe was good at,” the source said.
“The party bigwigs all have skeletons in their cupboards, but believe Mnangagwa himself is not clean from corruption and so are his children. They said he is sacrificing others for his political life. If he is serious about corruption, why doesn’t he start with those people directly linked to him who plundered command agriculture and fuel funds.”
The sources added there is a growing consensus among some Zanu PF top chefs that Mnangagwa was a “selfish” leader and the sooner he is shown the exit door, the safer they will be.
Their concerns validate claims by the MDC at the weekend that they were working with some Zanu PF legislators in a plot to impeach Mnangagwa.
Former minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Mpofu and Labour minister Sekai Nzenza yesterday dared Zacc to arrest them, claiming they were clean.
Mpofu described his accusers as lunatics and that he had nothing to hide.
“No one has phoned me or asked me, but I am ready for anything because I know I have not done anything wrong and it will be proven whatever needs to be proven. I have nothing to worry about. It is just wishful thinking by some lunatics,” he told NewsDay in a telephone interview.
Nzenza, who was at the weekend reported to have fled the country to avoid arrest, yesterday at a Press conference, said: “I have a job to deliver and will not listen to nonsensical weekend stories on social media.
“Ask those who are saying I am under investigation; for what? I have nothing to hide. They can go on and investigate me. I am not dwelling on nonsensical stories. I have a mandate to deliver to ensure that money entitled to NSSA is managed properly within best practice of governance,”
At the weekend, Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana denied that the corruption hunt was a political exercise.