HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has all but endorsed the vote of no confidence that was recently passed against Zanu PF youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi by his executive, after the nonagenarian allowed him to be kicked out of Wednesday’s politburo meeting in Harare.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe’s aides had told Togarepi bluntly that he could not attend the meeting or continue to be a politburo member, until his suspension from the youth league was mediated and finalised by the party’s national disciplinary committee (NDC).
“Togarepi appeared to have been taken by surprise, as he genuinely believed that the president would save him. But it was not to be, and was subsequently booted out of the meeting,” one of the sources said.
This was corroborated by a party official linked to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks who go by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
“Togarepi had to leave soon after His Excellency’s arrival because the president’s security told him that he was not welcome. It was an embarrassing scene as he had to leave immediately and he was close to tears because he never anticipated it.
“Remember that Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) has been blocking the NDC from handling the case as they wanted the president to use his discretion to save Togarepi as an appointee by the president. Lacoste were thoroughly shocked by the decision,” the second source said.
Togarepi was booted from the youth league by his colleagues last March, together with his secretary for administration Lewis Mathuthu and committee member Sibongile Sibanda — all alleged staunch allies of Mnangagwa.
He had until now remained defiant, saying his suspension was a nullity, and that only Mugabe, who appointed him to the post of youth league leader, had the authority to fire him — as Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Togarepi — while confirming that he had left last week’s politburo meeting prematurely — denied that he had been ordered to leave.
“I left early because I had other issues to attend to. Do not listen to what your sources are telling you because they have their own agenda.
“Nothing of that sort happened,” he said, while refusing to shed light on how long he lasted in the meeting.
“Do I have to explain that to you? What do you want to know? Is that a question you would ask all politburo members? I will not respond to that,” he said angrily, referring further questions to Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo.
But Khaya Moyo referred all questions on the matter to secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, saying he was not in the politburo when Mugabe arrived at the meeting — as he was attending to some other business.
Chombo’s mobile number was not reachable until the Daily News on Sunday went to Press last night.
However, a youth league national executive member asserted that Togarepi was a “Team Lacoste kingpin”, adding that he had got his “comeuppance”.
“The reason why he (Togarepi) had the guts to attend Wednesday’s meeting after he had boycotted the previous one was that his faction had told him that the NDC, which they accuse of bias, would not be handling his case because he was appointed by the president.
“But now his case is closed, and he will not be taking part in any youth league events, including the forthcoming million-man march,” the official said.
A confident Togarepi told the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, soon after the youth league’s decision to pass a vote of no confidence against him, that he would stay put, saying only Mugabe could fire him.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president and I will only listen to what he directs me to do. In the meantime, I am actually at work, in the office at the party headquarters,” he said then.
Announcing the vote of no confidence, Togarepi’s deputy Kudzanai Chipanga said his boss had resigned from his post after realising that he was “not equal to the task” of leading party youths.
Chipanga also claimed that Togarepi had, in addition, recused himself from chairing the meeting that resolved to elbow him out of the party.
“He diplomatically resigned after he had acknowledged that he felt that he was feeling guilty that he failed the youth league and we found it prudent to pass a vote of no confidence against him,” Chipanga said.
“We are not going to tolerate anyone who indulges in factional politics and indiscipline in the party. We respect everyone in the party but when it comes to support, we only support one person that is the president.
“There are some people who want to tamper with the youth league and the women’s league but we resolved in 2014 that we have one centre of power, whose wings are the two leagues.
“So, whoever wants to tamper with those wings will be viewed as attempting to tamper with the centre of power which we are not going to allow,” Chipanga added.