HARARE – Zanu PF youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi has made a dramatic volte-face, pledging allegiance to First Lady Grace Mugabe and accusing his “excitable” detractors of creating a wedge between her and the powerful women’s league boss.
Togarepi was recently ousted from the youth league in a vote of no confidence apparently because of his alleged links to a faction backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He was subsequently, according to Zanu PF insiders, ordered by Mugabe out of a politburo meeting a fortnight ago pending the finalisation of his case.
Mnangagwa’s faction is battling a rival camp of Young Turks, dubbed the Generation 40 (G40) that is opposed to the Midlands godfather’s presidential ambitions.
But Togarepi told the Daily News in an exclusive interview yesterday that reports that he did not like the First Family were “machinations of some people on a campaign to destroy me politically”.
“I have no problem with amai (Grace) and I believe that she also has faith in me. This is a political game and people can come up with unfounded allegations and tend to misrepresent me that I am against her,” Togarepi said.
While admitting that the cancer of factionalism was consuming Zanu PF, Togarepi said he was not involved in the fights.
“I know very well people saying they do not know which of the four or five factions in the party I belong to, but I am happy because I am in Zanu PF as a compact organisation led by one person (Mugabe) and directed by its constitution. I will remain focused behind the person who appointed me, I will not follow anybody else or be part of a faction,” he said.
Commenting on allegations that owing to his factional interests, he and other Mnangagwa loyalists were working around the clock to block the youth league’s “million-man” march meant to prop up Mugabe, Togarepi said that was all “unfounded.”
Instead, he said, there were youths who were posting on social media that they would not be part of the march if Togarepi was barred from participating.
“I am fully behind the million- man march. Remember, I am actually the author of the first million-man march in 2007 and I invited Jabulani Sibanda, not the other way round.
“I am happy therefore if ‘my’ youths have that zeal to use their energy to mobilise for the president. These activities create awareness and galvanise the youths.
“I am therefore calling upon all Zanu PF youths and those affiliated to the party to participate.
“There is no misunderstanding or misgivings about what the march seeks to achieve, hence I am actually hiring buses using my personal resources”.
Togarepi also claimed there was unity among youth league leaders on the need for the march despite claims to the contrary.
He, however, acknowledged that with the whole party divided along factional lines, there were bound to be divisions in the youth league.
“The youths are united but they have too much energy and what divides them are petty issues.
“It must also be realised that these are people who have not developed that much politically and they tend to irritate each other and sometimes they are misdirected by other people with their own agendas”.
He also insisted that he had left the last politburo meeting prematurely of his own volition as he had to “attend to other issues”.