Former Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who was expelled from the ruling party last year, has rallied behind former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa who this week released a statement attacking the party for holding an “unconstitutional congress”.
Mutasa said his response was to the “unprecedented and destructive events before, during and after the so-called "6th National People's Congress" in December 2014, citing “the summary expulsions and suspensions of loyal members and the imposition of party leadership by one person, effectively abandoning the "one-man-one-vote" that we fought for.”
During the second Chimurenga war, Gumbo was the secretary of information in the Dare reChimurenga (War Council). He worked under the chairmanship of the late national icon Herbert Chitepo. Gumbo was arrested and detained together with other colleagues on allegations of taking part in the 1975 assassination of Chitepo in Zambia. He was imprisoned together with the likes of Henry Hamadziripi, who was then secretary for finance, Kumbirai Kangai secretary for public and social welfare and Mukudzei Mudzi secretary for administration. Gumbo spoke to VOA Studio 7’s Blessing Zulu about the rising political tensions in Zanu PF.
BZ: Mr. Gumbo do you endorse the statement by Mr. Mutasa in which he called for the nullification of the party’s December Congress deeming it constitutionally “flawed.”
RG: I completely agree with him, I think Blessing I discussed with you during and after the Congress and indicated that this was a farce, it was a total failure, it did not take into account the feelings of the people; so I totally agree with Mutasa, almost everything he has said, absolutely correct. And I think members of Zanu PF as well as the generality of the Zimbabwean people were waiting for this kind of statement. We have emphasized that we can’t be led by Omafikizolo, no ways! These are reactionary, counter-revolutionaries who managed to infiltrate and worm their way into the party, and as far as we are concerned they are just a bunch of tricksters and crooks.
BZ: So what are you planning to do to challenge the outcome of that Congress, are you taking the political route or the legal route?
RG: Yes we are taking the legal route, we are consulting our lawyers, as soon as the consultation process is over then we can move on. But we can’t leave things as they are, no ways. These people are a minority, they do not have people, they just managed to get this through by playing hide and seek, by having votes-of-no-confidence passed on people who were elected by the people, and these people who went to Congress were appointed, not elected by people and the amendment of the constitution gave powers to one person and we are paying a price for it. As far as we are concerned we have to do something about it, in order for us to get the party on the right track.
BZ: But how big is your support because we are hearing only you and Mr. Mutasa coming out in the open and most of the people we have talked to who have been ousted are merely saying we remain loyal to Zanu PF.
RG: What have we said ourselves? We have said also we remain loyal to Zanu PF, we are not getting out of Zanu PF but we have to push out these Omafikizolo.
BZ: What is your take on Mr. Mugabe’s leadership, because he has endorsed all the changes that you are criticizing?
RG: Ah (laughs) well that is what we are seeking to do, we do not agree with what he has done, that is why we are taking the measures we are taking, I think he has harmed his own legacy. Alienated all the people who worked with him, who propelled his leadership, look there is nothing we can do about his his leadership, we do not agree with it. This has been clearly stated in Cde Mutasa’s statement.
BZ: But are you not afraid that there is going to be a backlash.
RG: What backlash? What have we done? Just to criticize what is wrong, then you expect a backlash? this is a democratic country, this is what we fought for, we opposed Ian Smith because he had denied us our democratic rights, he had denied us freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, denied us one man one vote, that’s what we fought for, and if these people continue denying us our right, as they did during Congress obviously were will oppose them, and there will be no need for people to harass us, we went to prison here in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). From 1962 to 1964 I was in jail under the Law and Order Maintenance Act; do they want to do the same thing here and put me in jail, just because I am opposed to authoritarianism and autocratic rule?
BZ: Does this mean the party is going to split?
RG: (laughs), We have said we are there to push out the Omafikizolos, the traitors, the counter-revolutionaries who have taken the party, so we are not splitting the party, we are saying the Joh nny-come-lately should not claim leadership of the party because they do not know anything, they do not have any history of the party, they do not even know how the armed struggle was started. I was a member of Chimurenga and I know what we did to bring this country to independence. We mobilized people, we trained people, we changed the whole landscape of the revolutionary struggle in Zimbabwe, because of the strategy, the philosophy, the values, the ideals and efforts, the democratic ways of doing things, and all of a sudden, some bum comes from nowhere and says I want to be the leader of Zanu PF, I am in the Politburo of Zanu PF, I am the political commissar, I am the secretary for administration, where did you get this kind of idea, to claim this kind of leadership, you do not have any credentials, some of these guys were young, they were not even born or they were toddlers and all of sudden today they come, they say Gumbo must go after spending 50 years in the struggle, do you think it makes sense?
BZ: Mr. Gumbo what is your take on Mr. Mnangagwa?
RG: Mnangagwa! I have said time and again. As far as I am concerned I have nothing personal against Mnangagwa as Mnangagwa. But I do not agree with his style of operation and he knows it himself, we do not want people who tend to use military tactics, people who threaten people and so on. I do not believe in that, I believe in democracy. I believe in discussing issues. I want to make sure that matters that affect the party and the people should be dealt with by the people. We have to commit our people to proper ways of doing business in the party. People must be given freedom to vote for whoever they like, they must also compete for whatever position and these are things Mnangagwa doesn’t like. We know it from experience, because we come from the Midlands. We know what he has done. He buys people, organizes threats and so on and we can’t operate like that. I have nothing against him. He was appointed Vice President but we do not agree with that constitution which appointed him to be Vice President and we will continue to oppose as we are opposing right now.
BZ: How about the second Vice President Phekezela Mphoko, do you know his history in the struggle; did you work with him at any given time?
RG: Oh yes I did work with him in Mozambique, I know he was representing Zapu at one stage in the 1970’s we worked with him closely, he assisted us a lot when we were having challenges in the party. He tried his level best to present our case to the former Vice President Joshua Nkomo. I have known him for some time. I have nothing against him. But I also do not agree that he should be made second Vice President by appointment, he must be elected like anybody else.
BZ: Do you agree with those who are saying maybe the problem in Zanu PF is now Mr. Mugabe himself because he has been in power for a long time.
RG: The problem is not Mugabe, it’s not personality, it’s not individual, it is the way the party handles internal contradictions, I think Mutasa summed it all up very well, that we have had a historical deep seated failure to handle internal contradictions. Internal contradictions are not a bad thing, they should be differences and they will always be differences amongst people. But it does not necessarily mean to solve those problems you have to whip people into line, you have to use undemocratic methods to get where you are, criticism and self-criticism are some of the core values of the liberation struggle, you must be able to criticize and be criticized and you must be able to then find a solution. What we have done in Zanu PF is we have failed to sum up our mistakes and experiences, we had in 1977 the arrest of over 45 top commanders of Zipa and later general staff of Zipa, in 1978 we had again a problem when members of Dare were all arrested, and there were no good reasons advanced for doing that kind of thing, and then we come here in Zimbabwe, you have the Tekere’s of this world, who was the secretary-general, and we are not able to solve problems, and today 2014, we have these internal problems, where the entire party has been torn apart, members of the party were savaged left and right by the president and his wife. Where do we go from here? So that is the problem, it’s not Mugabe because he has stayed long it’s the method the system of handling internal contradictions in the party.
BZ: Thank you Mr. Gumbo for your time
RG: The pleasure is mine
Exclusive Interview With Rugare Gumbo