HARARE – Politburo heavyweight Nicholas Goche dramatically quit Zanu PF’s violent central committee elections in Bindura yesterday, charging angrily that he was now completely fed up with the ugly factional and succession wars that are devouring President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.
Goche’s sensational abandonment of the elections, which leaves his Cabinet position in doubt, came after violent hired thugs, who were baying for his blood, besieged a tempestuous provincial meeting in the Mashonaland Central capital.
Traumatised witnesses at the chaotic meeting variously described the scenes on the ground as “hell” and “completely bewildering”.
Goche confirmed to the Daily News last night that he had withdrawn his name for election into the party’s powerful central committee.
The Bindura anarchy comes a mere week before Zanu PF holds its crucial elective congress in Harare, amid untested claims by State media that Goche, former party spokesman Rugare Gumbo and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa are allegedly plotting together with embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru to assassinate Mugabe.
The thugs that terrorised attendees at yesterday’s meeting were allegedly hired by a party faction rabidly opposed to Mujuru, which has been buoyed by Mugabe’s relentless attacks on senior party members, as well as his purging of provincial chairpersons perceived to be sympathetic to the beleaguered VP.
The hired Bindura mob, many of them said to have come from the Mt Darwin area where Environment minister Savior Kasukuwere comes from, damaged cars and beat up anyone who was suspected of supporting Goche and Mujuru, forcing the minister to withdraw from the elections.
“It was hell for all of us who were rooting for Comrade Goche. We were assaulted and chased away by the drunk thugs who disrupted the meeting. I can understand why he (Goche) pulled out,” said one of his supporters who requested anonymity fearing that the thugs would follow him to “finish me off”.
The eyewitnesses say it was during this mayhem that an exasperated Goche stood up, laid the blame for the anarchy on Kasukuwere for hiring the thugs to disrupt the meeting, and then announced that he was quitting the elections as everything that was happening ran contrary to his principles and conscience.
“Cars were stoned and the anti-Mujuru protestors besieged the meeting accusing Goche of plotting to assassinate the president. They were uncontrollable and not even the police could stop them.
“Goche pointedly blamed Kasukuwere for organising the demonstrations.
He said all his life he had worked for Zanu PF and would not take the abuse anymore. That is why he refused to have his name among nominees for the central committee,” one of the sources said.
The State-controlled weekly newspaper, The Sunday Mail, alleged last week that its “investigations” had revealed that Goche, “made contingencies for such a scenario (Mugabe’s assassination) during recent meetings with potential hit men in South Africa and Israel”.
Mugabe, who turns 91 soon, is the only leader Zimbabwe has had since the country attained its independence from Britain in 1980. During this period, virtually all of Zimbabwe’s neighbours have had at least four leaders, leaving Mugabe — Africa’s oldest and one of the longest serving on the continent — the odd man out in the region, and with no obvious successor in sight.
Mugabe railroaded his party into changing its constitution at the weekend, a move that now allows him to sideline Mujuru and appoint his preferred successor.
The changes, which were forced through at Saturday’s tense politburo meeting in Harare, will empower the nonagenarian to appoint his party deputies once they are formally adopted — a marked change from the current status quo where his lieutenants are elected into their positions, which also sees them automatically taking up the same posts in government.
Analysts say Mugabe’s perennial encouragement of Zanu PF’s factional wars shows that he is “a master of divide and rule politics”.
University of Kent law lecturer, Alex Magaisa, said there were a lot of things happening around Mugabe and in Zanu PF that did not make any sense.
“There are too many contradictions, but the one explanation for this is simply that Mugabe is a master of divide and rule politics.
“He thrives on the vulnerability of those around him. The more they feel unsure and insecure, the better for him,” Magaisa said.
He added that this was the reason why Mugabe was not protecting Mujuru from the scathing attacks she was receiving from his wife Grace and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters.
“Thus Mugabe has all parties where he wants them to be, fighting each other and vulnerable.
“He remains unscathed, looking powerful and untouchable,” he said.Dailynews