IN A dramatic turn of events, it has emerged that the newly-installed leadership of Zanu PF’s youth league may now be pushing for the expulsion of the wing’s suspended executives from the ruling party, the Daily News reports.
This comes as details are emerging that the suspended youth league leaders apparently approached intelligence chiefs and also sought the opinion of President Emmerson Mnangagwa himself before holding their controversial press briefing in Harare last week.
It also comes as fissures are widening in the boiling former liberation movement, which was split right down the middle towards the final ruinous years in power of the late former president Robert Mugabe.
Contacted by the Daily News about all this yesterday, Zanu PF’s newly-appointed youth league boss, Tendai Chirawu, would only confirm that his predecessor Lewis Matutu and former national commissar political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu would be hauled before a disciplinary hearing for defying the party’s politburo.
“The issue of corruption is important, but the party has been clear that there should be evidence.
“When you announce that there is corruption you must bring evidence. I have never seen anywhere in the world where corruption is fought at press conferences.
“Corruption is fought within the structures that are available. As the youths, we remain guided by what the politburo said that we should not go outside and talk about what we do not know about,” Chirau told the Daily News.
“The issue of defiance that is being exhibited by our comrades is something that we will put to the national disciplinary committee so that appropriate action is taken,” he added.
However, Tsenengamu and Matutu remained defiant yesterday — amid the threat of expulsion, as well as the stunning revelations that they sought the opinions of Mnangagwa and the President’s Department before accusing three prominent businesspeople of corruption.
The duo also accused their colleagues in the youth league, as well as some party bigwigs of being cowards for allegedly “retreating” from an agreed position to fight corruption in the country.
“There are cowards in Zanu PF, people who cannot stand for what is right. We are in a sinking ship and people expect the captain to come and plug the hole alone, when it is a duty for all of us.
“We must play our part as young people, but some of us are afraid. I will not mention these people by name.
“I am waiting for the expulsion to come. When I went for the press conference there was no such approval. People think we do not have capacity to see right and wrong.
“What I did, I was doing it on my behalf. No one sent me. I am glad to leave the party anytime, any day,” Tsenengamu told the Daily News.
On his part, Matutu also said they had acted on their own — contrary to claims that they were fronting a powerful faction in the divided ruling party.
He also strongly rejected claims that they were taking instructions from firebrand war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa — who is said to have spiritedly tried to have them spared from suspension during last week’s stormy politburo meeting.
“It is not … Mutsvangwa only who has the voice of reason … just that a lot of people are cowards or they are beneficiaries of corruption.
“It is mischievous for anyone to suggest that we have a handler … Zimbabwean people are our handlers and nobody else,” Matutu said.
Last week, Tsenengamu and Matutu accused businessmen Kuda Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara of engaging in corrupt dealings, while also demanding action against them from the party and law enforcement agents.
However, the party’s politburo — Zanu PF’s highest decision-making body between its congresses — decided to suspend the duo from the former liberation movement.
Last Wednesday’s heated Zanu PF politburo meeting also saw party bigwigs crossing swords over the fate of the former youth league leaders.
Their allegations split the politburo into two main camps — with one side backing the suspended youth leaders strongly and the other one calling for decisive action against them.
In the end, it was decided that both Matutu and Tsenengamu be suspended from the party and stripped of their positions in the youth league.
Former youth league secretary, Pupurai Togarepi, was also stripped of his position — and has accepted his fate.
Yesterday, the Daily News was told by impeccable sources that Zanu PF youths who were among the bigwigs who graced an end of year party that was hosted by Mnangagwa at his rural home in Zvishavane broached the subject of cartels and also apparently sought the president’s opinion.
However, the sources said Mnangagwa did not give the youths his express approval, while also seemingly not keen to talk about such matters during the private party.
The suspended youth leaders were then said to have later approached the President’s Department — seeking an opinion ahead of their press conference on February 3.
“On Friday (ahead of their media briefing), the youths spoke to intelligence chiefs and they were told to proceed with their press conference.
“The list had 24 names, but it was whittled to just a few names, as some of the names were deemed to be too sensitive,” one of the well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday.
It was also revealed that during the week preceding the press conference, the youths had also apparently met several top Zanu PF officials, to discuss their planned press briefing.
After all these consultative engagements, the sources added, the youths thought that their press conference had the blessings of the party and key security sector chiefs.
But another source said ahead of last Friday’s second press conference, Matutu had held a meeting with a senior official in the President’s Department, who had warned him against attending the planned gathering.
As a result, Matutu was conspicuous by his absence from the press conference the following day that was fronted by Tsenengamu.
According to other sources, while Matutu is viewed as “redeemable”, Tsenengamu is now seen as “a lost renegade” who is allegedly working with former Zanu PF officials, including in the much-distrusted Generation 40 (G40) group.
Observers have said that last week’s actions by the suspended youth leaders have similarities with Zanu PF’s controversial interface rallies of yester-year — which the youth and women’s leagues used to deadly effect, often making entirely false allegations against their perceived party opponents.
Erratic former first lady Grace Mugabe, former youth league leader Kudzanai Chipanga, and ex-women’s league stalwarts such as Sarah Mahoka and Mandiitawepi Chimene, for example, used this tactic successfully to soil Mnangagwa and former vice president Joice Mujuru’s names at the height of Zanu PF’s internecine fights.
Then, the G40 faction was locked in a hammer and tongs tussle with Mnangagwa and his allies for control of Zanu PF.
The ugly tribal, factional and succession wars subsided somewhat following the 2017 military coup.