HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is haunted by the 2008 election ghost, and yesterday warned detractors in his party against repeating the so-called Bhora Musango (kick the ball off the field) strategy again.
The strategy, in which party supporters voted for a Zanu PF MP and councillor and not for the party’s presidential candidate, was used in the March 2008 vote in a bid to unseat him amid unprecedented economic meltdown.
The strategy cost him dearly in the vote in which he lost to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of voting.
His stern warning clearly shows that he is spooked with the prospect of a repeat of the strategy in the forthcoming watershed poll.
Speaking during a funeral service of the late Ambuya Matadzisei Tangwena, who was declared a provincial heroine, the 89-year-old Zanu PF candidate vowed to deal with anyone who attempts to reincarnate the Bhora Musango strategy.
Although he was in hostile territory in Nyanga where he failed to garner significant votes in the last two elections, he made sure his message was heard loud and clear.
Leaning against the podium for support, he said: “Zvekurova bhora musango hatidi iro ghedi uchiriona.
Unozoti mangwana unoiswa here mu team iyoyo…aiwa tinoti gedhi rako riri musango. (We will not tolerate anyone who will kick the ball off course…Tomorrow you will not find a place in the same team…We will tell you that your place is in the wilderness),” Mugabe said to a small crowd gathered at the graveside.
A few of the people in attendance spotted T-shirts declaring their support for journalist Supa Mandiwanzira, who is vying for the Nyanga South parliamentary seat.
Mugabe’s threats resonate with a resolution made at the Zanu PF conference in December last year where a Bhora Mughedi initiative was mooted.
But analysts say the same people who mooted the Bhora Musango strategy were the ones who came up with the new Bhora Mughedi strategy.
At 89, Mugabe is plagued by ill health and advanced age, but intends to maintain his position as Zanu PF’s leader.
He has fought several attempts by members of his party to unseat him including by serial political flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo who tried to topple him in a foiled 2004 palace coup in what came to be known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
Some members of his inner circle who by day lavish him with praises, went behind his back, holding secret meetings with US officials where they planned his ouster.
This, however, is not the first time that he has warned his detractors.
In November 2011, during an inter-party peace indaba, Mugabe took a swipe at those involved in Bhora Musango.
“Kwedu takamboita bhora rainzi rovera bhora musango rekuti mumwe atadza kusarudzwa asi anoenda achiti ini ndinavo vangu vanondisupporter havambofa vakakuvhotera iwewe. Ibhora rerudzwai, ghedi racho riripi. (In our party we once had people undermining each other because they claimed to have more support than other party cadres),” Mugabe said. – Thelma Chikwanha, Features Editor