WASHINGTON DC —
Former Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who was expelled from the ruling party last year, has charged that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, both lawyers, are misleading President Robert Mugabe and the party in their attempts to block disgruntled party members from approaching the High Court.
President Robert Mugabe and senior members of his ruling Zanu-PF party are warning disgruntled party members led by former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and Gumbo not to take party disputes to the High Court.
After chairing the ruling party’s Soviet-style Politburo meeting Wednesday, Mr. Mugabe spoke against taking the party to the courts saying, “The party is supreme because it has its own principles, it has rules and practices which are not subject to high courts as some people falsely believe.”
Party legal secretary Patrick Chinamasa is on record saying: “no court of law has jurisdiction to decide party programs and who should be in positions. Leaders are elected by party membership and not by the courts. Therefore, any attempt to resort to the courts is an exercise in futility because we cannot have outsiders coming to decide who should be in what position. Judges cannot be arbiters in issues concerning members.” But Gumbo has vowed to press ahead with the court action. VOA Studio 7’s Blessing Zulu (BZ) speaks exclusively with Gumbo about the president’s remarks.
BZ: Mr. Gumbo (RG), President Robert Mugabe yesterday said aggrieved party members must not take the party to court what is your response.
R.G. Hahahaha (laughs). It is sad that the president continues to be misled by so-called party lawyers, who really do not seem to understand the constitution, who seem not to understand the legal aspects of these things. Who can deny us our right to go to the courts, eeeh the constitution is clear that anybody who is aggrieved is supposed to take his case to the courts. I mean this applies to marriages, this applies to religious organizations, and this applies to political parties. All these things have been there. Why should they deny us that right to go to the courts? As I have said, it only underlines the failure by the legal team to advise him correctly on some of these issues and this is why we have these problems today in the party. It’s because he is totally misled by people who pretend to know the constitution or the legal processes which they really do not know, that is a big problem. But as far as we are concerned, the court case will go on. I have been talking to the lawyers, they are telling us that they are clearing up the case and should be able to file the papers as soon as they are ready. But I cannot comment more about that because it is the lawyer’s responsibility to deal with these issues. But all I can assure you is that is the court case will go ahead.
BZ: But to qoute the president, he is saying the “the party is supreme because it has its own principles, it has rules and practices which are not subject to high courts as some people falsely believe.”
R.G. Well look, which party are you talking about because as far as I am concerned, the current leadership apart from him (Mugabe) were illegally, unconstitutionally, undemocratically elected. We do not recognize those people. So, I do not know which party you are talking about and I do not know which principles you are talking about and which values he is talking about because the entire constitution was overhauled and changed in order to suit the interests of the party vultures that are there so as far as we are concerned we are using the old constitution. And the values and ideals of that constitution are clear on how to proceed when you have problems, At the present moment how do I proceed, how do I exhaust the party processes, Mutasa was the secretary for administration, he was demoted, sacked from his position. Now, he is a card carrying member. Where do we go to appeal? The committee set up to investigate him is composed of people who are anti-Mutasa. Time and again they have denounced Mutasa, will that committee have any legitimacy? So why do you just talk aimlessly, the so-called leadership that is there is clueless. They do not know how to handle this issue, there are lots of contradictions. Now before the congress, during congress, after congress there was denouncing of people, there was purging of people, now they are calling for unity. They purged people just for being associated with Amai Mujuru and Mutasa, it’s not normal in a democratic institution.
BZ. When you say Mr. Mugabe is being misled - by who?
R.G. There are lawyers there, Mnangagwa is there, he is supposed to be the guru in the legal fraternity, Chinamasa is there, he is the secretary for legal affairs, and there is Paul Mangawana, these are the people who are misleading him from A to Z. They misled him about the constitution that it can be changed without following the normal processes, so now the country is in a mess. The entire party is in a mess, just because of those people, they are there, they are known, and Chinamasa came out a few days ago saying there is no way the Zimbabwe courts can entertain cases which are coming from the party. Is he really the legal expert who can advise the party when he does not know what is going on?
BZ. But Mr. Gumbo your critics are saying in the case of Mr. Mutasa, the court might want to ask him why he has not exhausted the party processes.
RG. Well well (laughs). How does Mutasa exhaust all the channels in the party? Can you specifically tell me which channels, can they tell the nation which channels he must follow? He is being denounced left, right and center. When the president came back he denounced him at the airport, before that Kasukuwere, Chombo and Chinamasa denounced him. What channels can he use if he is being denounced openly like that?
BZ. But reading between the lines, it appears that what Mr. Mugabe and his backers are saying is that you are free to leave the party and form your own.
RG. No! No! No! Why should we leave the party that we formed? We are the ones who formed this party. We fought to defend this party. How many people does (Mr.) Mugabe have who were in the bush? How many? Can you count them? Can he count them. How many has he expelled? You can count, Mujuru, Mutasa, Gumbo, Shamu and so on and so forth. But he has nobody; he is now left with Omafikizolo.
BZ. But have there been any attempts to engage you or those who have been suspended or expelled?
RG. I do not know of anybody who has been engaged, they have said they do not want people who were expelled. They are now restructuring, moving people, appointing their protégés. So how do you bring unity and how do you unite the party? You can’t.
BZ. Lastly Mr. Gumbo, do you feel isolated out there, do you still have friends in the party and are they still talking to you?
RG. Of course they talk to us, what else can they do, they have to talk to us , because we are the only people who make sense to them. These other guys do not make sense to them. They do not associate with them, they are always by themselves, so they talk to me, they talk to us, we dialogue on a number of issues.
BZ; Thank you Mr. Gumbo for your time.
RG: Most welcome.