Following the suspension of Zanu PF youth league leaders Godfrey Tsenengamu and Lewis Matutu from their positions in the ruling party after they spoke strongly against corruption outside the party parameters, the Daily News on Sunday chief writer Fungi Kwaramba sits down with Tsenengamu to trace his life as a rebel in Zanu PF.
Q: Who is Godfrey Tsenengamu, where were you born?
A: Godfrey Tsenengamu of the Humba Makombe totem is a card holder in Zanu PF. He is also the founder and chairman of an empowerment movement the Youth Affirmative Action Assembly of Zimbabwe (YAAAZ).
Godfrey is a devout Christian, under the Jowani Masowe yeChishanu church, born to peasant parents (both late) on the 6th of June 1982 in Bindura and grew up in rural Rushinga under Chief Makuni before settling in Mt Darwin in the early 2000s.
Q: Are you married?
A: Yes am married and happily so.
Q: What makes you tick, you seem to be determined in all your fights where do you get the energy from?
A: Principle motivates me. I am one person who can’t go against my conscience. When I have a conviction on something and believe that it is the right thing to do, I just go for that with my all.
Q: What does your family say of your political journey, I understand you left a job to be a politician, now you are out of Zanu PF, how do you survive?
A: They are very supportive though sometimes they fear for my life. Yes I left the civil service at the end of 2007 when I was employed by the ministry of Health at Mt Darwin Hospital.
I decided to voluntarily serve my party and country full time as I felt challenged by the thought of yesteryear youths who left homes, families, school, employment and everything they had to commit themselves to the struggle against oppression.
So I said to myself what would history say of us as the youths of today? What contribution are we going to make and what is going to be our legacy and at that point I made a decision to serve my party and country.
After leaving employment, I started running small businesses like restaurants and butcheries. I am a farmer by the way and from the proceeds of these activities, I have been managing to cater for my family.
From 2018 I was employed as a full-time employee of the party till my suspension and am not worried at all, for many of my peers are not employed but are making it in life.
Q: In 2014 you played a prominent role in removing former vice president Joice Mujuru, what was driving you to turn against her?
A: The late and former President Cde Mugabe had convinced us at a private meeting with him at State House that the then VP Mai Mujuru had planned evil against him and that as the vanguard of the party we were supposed to play our role in defending the party and the revolution which was embodied through him as the leader of the party.
Because we thought that these were real issues, we stood up to act only to realise later that he had lied to us and that these were just games he was playing to get rid of those he viewed as threats to his hold to power.
Q: Was it also a case of sour grapes because I understand that you were once suspended from Zanu PF in 2013 apparently, at the instigation of the former vice president?
A: I was unconstitutionally and unprocedurally suspended for 6 months from the position of provincial youth chairperson in Mashonaland Central province and it was at the instigation of the former VP and her allies in the province.
I had not done anything wrong against the party but they say I had exhibited some tendencies of not wanting to submit to her authority in the province since she was the most senior in the party hierarchy then.
I had called for a youth programme in Guruve when she was also visiting Shamva, that was my crime.
It was during that period of my suspension around the 2014 national youth conference period that we were engaged by Mugabe after Kudzanai Chipanga had won the deputy youth affairs secretary race to fight in his corner, even though I was on suspension but the late president would recognise me as the legitimate chairperson and I could not let the opportunity go, so I grabbed it.
Q: What were the given reasons for removing Mujuru and did Zanu PF heavyweights directly influence her removal?
A: Mugabe would say that she was planning to unseat him, she was accused of working with America, being an extortionist, remember the Doctor 10 percent accusations, accused of being a witch who had gone to seek powers from Nigeria (zimbuya rekuDotito zimuroyi), and also accused of working with some in Zanu PF officials to kill him by allegedly hiring snipers and this implicated Cde (Nicholas) Goche.
She was also accused of creating a faction in the party, the Gamatox faction.
Those were some of the allegations and Mugabe said she had to go and thinking that all this was true, we said how could she do that to someone who had helped her to be where she was. We became the foot soldiers. It is a sad chapter of my youthful days.
I picked lessons from there. Yes a number of bigwigs were involved in taking her down but I am not going to say something about them today, all I can do mostly is to say out my role. Others will speak for themselves if they choose to do so.
Q: In 2014, Zanu PF was seemingly united in ousting Mujuru, what gave rise to the factions that then pitted the then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and the so-called Generation 40 faction?
A: As far as I know all those who stood against mai Mujuru had the backing and blessings of Mugabe.
It was Mugabe leading the charge though others cheered him up but they were not necessarily the architects of her downfall. Because she was alleged to have threatened her leader’s hold to power by showing ambition to want to challenge him, she was made to pay for that. Mugabe himself was behind all that.
Q: Back then you supported vice president Mnangagwa against the G40 elements, what drove you to back him instead of the likes of Kasukuwere who you were once close to?
A: I didn’t approve of the way Kasukuwere did his politics then and his style of leadership though we were coming from the same province and same constituency.
I had admired Mnangagwa’s history in the party and government and thought he could be the best man to succeed Mugabe. I believed in the man and saw it fit to support him.
Q: You were then expelled from Zanu PF, how did it feel to be out of a political home, unemployed?
A: It didn’t come as a surprise because I could see the level of desperation in the G40 kingpins and because I was unapologetic about the fact that I was for Cde Mnangagwa.
I knew they would come after me and they did. The expulsion “liberated” me from being forced to support what I believed was wrong, so now I had every opportunity to push for what I believed in and I upped the game. I knew it was going to be over one day and I had no worries over it.
Q: After your expulsion you kept on attacking then president Mugabe, weren’t you afraid? Why is it hard for you to toe the party line?
A: At first I was afraid of being arrested but after a series of arrests I became used to it. They tormented me and haunted me in everything I tried to do including destroying my sources of income and it hardened me.
I knew only one thing was left- death and was never afraid anymore for I knew that as I know now that we are all going to die one day or the other so I no longer had fear. I started enjoying it, tough as it was. I was used to the ways they would treat me.
Q: You were arrested and even had your passport seized by authorities, I remember you were saved from trial by the November 2017 coup, how did it feel facing all those charges?
A: I had ten charges before the courts by November 2017, two of alleged subversion, four of undermining the authority of the president, three of intimidating or threatening the first family and one of convening a press conference without police authority and in the history of political arrests I think I was the only one to this day to be charged with convening a press conference without police authority.
The regime was desperate but it could not sustain the cases as this was just a ploy to frustrate me and force me into submission but I refused to back down. In the new dispensation, the charges crumbled and was I happy about it. I only went to collect my passport last year in 2019 because even after the collapse of the cases, I had no use for it.
Q: Back then Mugabe came down hard on you because you were supporting vice president Mnangagwa, did you have any contact with Mnangagwa during the brutal Zanu PF fights, is he the one who sent you?
A: Mugabe tried many tricks to force me into submission but I refused and he had to come down hard on me. I pressed on.
Many thought I was being sent by Mnangagwa. No I did that out of my own volition because that’s what I believed in. Mnangagwa’s loyalty to Mugabe was solid. He never thought that Mugabe would treat him badly till the last days.
Q: After Mugabe’s resignation, what were your expectations?
A: I expected that the new party leadership would forgive those it had contradictions with and reunite the party.
I expected the leadership to unite all Zimbabweans and focus on developing the country together as a people.
I expected that the leadership would deal differently with the problems we saw in the old dispensation like corruption, regionalism, tribalism, unemployment, political polarisation, policy inconsistencies, indigenisation and empowerment, transparency and accountability etc. I badly wanted to see change.
Q: Have those expectations been met by the Second Republic.
A: I hope the Second Republic will one day achieve these for me, so far it hasn’t.
Q: You were the Zanu PF youth league secretary for the commissariat, what did your job entail?
A: My duty was to be the chief mobiliser, organiser and recruiter for the youth league.
Q: I understand you were on a payroll, who paid salaries of Zanu PF officials at a time when most of the party’s companies are insolvent?
A: My account was being credited from the salaries account of the party but in regards to the source, am not sure maybe the national secretary for Finance Patrick Chinamasa knows since he has that duty.
Q: There is the issue of corruption, why did you speak about corruption outside the party, have you lost confidence in the internal mechanisms considering that when you raised the issue last year, nothing was done?
A: It was out of realisation that the fight against corruption can never be restricted to the party since it is a national problem.
Party bureaucracy would not make it easy for us to wage this fight effectively and as you have rightly said since last year when we came out at a party platform to expose the rot nothing was done except constituting a
Commission which never saw the light of the day as it suffered a still birth.
Corruption is a national problem affecting everyone and it has to be dealt with at that level. Restricting it to a political party will not produce desired results.
Corruption has destroyed lives of current and future generations and I could not afford to pretend anymore that it was well when it is clear that we are sinking while smiling.
Considering the benefits and privileges some of us had because I was strategically positioned, I could have just chosen to ignore and continue with my life but no it cannot be about my personal convenience when a whole generation is wailing.
Q: Do you think the Zanu PF leadership has been captured by cartels
A: Yes some of them have been captured though others have not. Which is why some of them are ready to sacrifice the party and the country in defence of the cartels and it is not only some in Zanu PF who have been captured but even our brothers in the opposition, as the cartelists are always securing their future in case of power shifts.
Q: Have you taken any evidence to official bodies like Zacc and the police to help them investigate the allegations you made?
A: On the last allegations we raised against the trio, Matutu went to Zacc (Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission) and we hope they are looking into the matters as was reported to them.
Q: What is your next move? Are you going to rejoin the party or you are going to be Zimbabwe’s (Julius) Malema.
A: I am still a card carrying member of the party serving 12 months suspension. In regards to the future, I will deal with situations as they come.
Q: What are your views on the State of the economy?
A: The economy is performing badly than we had expected. I had expected some growth but the opposite is happening.
Our people have been affected heavily. The leadership must find a way out of this mess or else we are doomed.