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Zimbabweans Defend Chief Under Siege for Citing Rampant Corruption in Mnangagwa Government

FILE: Zimbabwe's Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga speaks during the Defence Forces Day celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on August 14, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)
FILE: Zimbabwe's Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga speaks during the Defence Forces Day celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on August 14, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Some Zimbabweans have criticized Vice President Constantino Chiwenga for threatening to take stern action against a traditional leader, Chief Murinye, who urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to take action against rampant corruption in the country linked to his associated or face the military in like what happened to the late former president Robert Mugabe.

Independent Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa, former Cabinet Minister Walter Mzembi and others are among people who have taken a swipe on Chiwenga, noting that his utterances are an indication that he is embracing autocratic rule by President Mnangagwa.

In a tweet, Mzembi said, “This business of calling others ‘Criminals around the President’ can drive leadership insane. Look now who has lost their marbles, the very authors and originators of that infamous label, the Junta 4 years down the line! What are you looking at in the current crisis. Where are we taking bullets or where should we act?"

Mzembi fled the country when Mugabe was toppled in a defacto military coup spearheaded by Chiwenga and Mnangagwa, who claimed that they wanted to remove criminals around the former president who were wrecking political havoc and destabilizing the economy.

Mzembi further said in another tweet, “… Several angles to the Murinye saga united Zimbabweans against VP Chiwenga, noted, but there is also an expose & unsolicited CONFESSION on Chiefs as Zanu PF power matrix accessories. Unacceptable. The Institution of Chiefs must be politically Neutral. We are the Most Divided people under a Unitary State with serious unconstitutional behaviour where a VP can shambok an entire Nation towards an Absolute Monarchy/ Kingdom declaring a President a Paramount Munhumutapa . Unitary State is not =Unity!”

Chief Murinye told mourners in Masvingo recently that the Mnangagwa government may forced people to call upon Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda to repeat what Chiwenga and others did in 2017 when they toppled Mugabe.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Murinye told mourners that “we are fed up, we do not want this anymore, thieves in Zimbabwe should stop. Mnangagwa is my nephew, but if he does not listen to my advice, he will not make it in the 2023 elections.”

This infuriated Chiwenga who told a chiefs’ meeting in Harare that Murinye should be investigated for his utterances as “that is only done by those who drink Mutoriro (illicit brew), in this country it is never done. We have one Monomutapa (Mnangagwa). We have one leader and it is that leader we give our respect, it is that leader we show the entire nation what respect is all about.

“What has been done by Chief Murinye is going to be investigated by the Minister of Local Government (July Moyo), the President of the Chiefs Council (Fortune Charumbira), his deputy and his committee and found guilty then appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. This is the Republic of Zimbabwe, that is not done. Such foolishness is not done, I hope you understand me. Chiefs are appointed and they are removed too. From here, 2021, you must dig holes in the tar and spit in them, declaring that such words are not uttered.”

He said Mnangagwa is untouchable “as long as I’m alive.”

But Mliswa says this is unacceptable. In a series of tweets, he said, “News that VP Chiwenga threatened Chief Murinye is wrong & disturbing on every level. This is exactly how Mugabe operated, threatening all those who had divergent views. Leadership should listen to people & not threaten them. We are all under Chiefs. Politicians sandivo vene venyika. There is freedom of expression which the Chiefs can also exercise and they speak on behalf of the people. They can’t be threatened over that. Chiefs were independent and apolitical but ZANU PF got them involved in politics yet when they press a divergent button you attack them.

“You dragged them into politics so accept all versions of that involvement. We can’t be a country where people are afraid of expressing their views. Hatingarambe tichichikidzira vanhu. We can’t be a country known for abusing its people. Some of us joined and pushed for the new dispensation because we felt that we would have a new narrative and a different governance system. You came up with the mantra the voice of the people is the voice of God. What has happened to that? Chief Murinye should not retract what he said because it’s the truth. Let’s be tolerant of the truth. Mwari ndiye muridzi wenyika ino kwete imi. You cannot threaten us all for saying what is true. Hamusimi varidzi venyika.”

Mliswa also said, “If I had known that this is what the removal of Mugabe means then I would not have allowed myself to suffer imprisonment; go to foreign Gvts to lobby against their military intervention, stop SADC from sending troops etc. Let’s not forget who played which role. When you are in power be humble, have equanimity, be magnanimous. Don’t abuse your power and bully those under you. Listen to the concerns of all, women, youths, war veterans, Chiefs, masvikiro, church leaders, etc then we know it’s the Zimbabwe that we want.

“We have no desire to lead but simply need the leaders present to do things in the proper way. Leaders who push for our desires. I’m disappointed with all this. You, Hon VP, sacrificed for a better Zimbabwe but this is not the way to go about it. You can’t be using that position to intimidate people. People should be free to greet you and laugh with you in the street not to fear you. Ushe madzoro and what goes around comes around.”