by FUNGI KWARAMBA
As the deadly factional and succession wars within President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF get uglier, the defiant former Presidential Affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa, says his political enemies have organised a hit squad to kill him in a desperate bid to silence him once and for all.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News in Harare yesterday, Mutasa said the plot to kill him had similarities to the way “the system has silenced” journalist turned pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara — who was abducted in Glen View in broad daylight by suspected State security agents a month ago, and has not been seen since then.
He also announced yesterday that he had decided not to contest the Headlands by-elections slated for June because of the uneven political playing field and the “frightening presence of soldiers, intelligence officers and the police” in many of Says he has the names of hired assassins FROM P1 the areas where the poll will be taking place.
Mutasa, who has intimate knowledge of the ruthless modus operandi of the ruling party having been in charge of the country’s spooks and having worked as Mugabe’s confidante for many decades, said he was aware of the “nefarious plot” to assassinate him.
“I am not going to be abducted as they did to Dzamara, but that does not mean I am scared, I am not,” Mutasa said.
Through his open defiance of Mugabe and Zanu PF hardliners, Mutasa has created many enemies within the ruling party — and readily admits himself that, “there are a lot of people who want to silence me”.
With Zimbabwe set to hold by-elections in at least 16 constituencies countrywide in June, many critics of Zanu PF accuse the ruling party of employing dirty tactics, including irregularly deploying the army and unleashing operatives of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in the areas where polling will take place, to coerce voters.
Mutasa said yesterday that it was “sad that Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is silent and yet they are aware of the presence of soldiers in different constituencies. They are aware of their presence but they are not saying anything”.
Quizzed by the Daily News whether the security establishment had played a part in previous polls while he was still a top Cabinet minister, Mutasa said although he was aware of “such shenanigans”, he could not “speak out” because he did not want to antagonise his former comrades even more.
“I can now complain because I could not complain in the past since I was part of the system. There was a time in the 1990s when I complained about Esap (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, the government’s then economic blueprint) and I was kicked out, so I could not risk that again by raising such sensitive topics,” he said.
The diminutive politician, who has morphed from being an obsequious loyalist of Mugabe to one of the nonagenarian’s most unflinching critics, said he had been informed by insiders of the sinister plot to “silence me”.
“I can actually name the people who have been set on me. They are investigating me and when I want to die I will go to Rusape because that is where they want to kill me.
“I can say who wants to kill me because I know the system very well,” the former State security minister said almost nonchalantly.
Mutasa said he was also ready to confront a former subordinate of his, CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe, with the alleged list of names of people who were out to eliminate him.
Opposition parties and human rights organisations have blamed Zanu PF for Dzamara’s disappearance last month, with the government being recently compelled by the High Court to search for him.
Although foreign governments such as those of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and France have been cranking up the pressure on Harare to locate the missing activist, the country’s security apparatus, that is very “efficient” when dealing with Zanu PF opponents, is still to find him.
Still, Mutasa said he was not afraid of being killed.
“Those who took Dzamara cannot produce him now because he is either not in the state in which they took him from his home, or simply because he is no longer there and that is a very bad Zimbabwe where people just disappear,” Mutasa said.