Former first lady Grace Mugabe's name has been thrust into the acrimonious fight over control of the National Patriotic Front (NPF) amid accusations that she is angling for a senior position if the party clinches a coalition deal with the MDC Alliance.
However, NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire (JM) yesterday told our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) in an interview that Grace had nothing to do with the party.
He said their detractors were trying to use former president Robert Mugabe's name to scuttle the envisaged coalition. Below are excerpts from the interview.
EM: Last week you fired NPF interim leader Ambrose Mutinhiri, who has since claimed he cannot be recalled by a few party members. Can you explain the circumstances surrounding his recall?
JM: The decision to recall him was unanimous among the 29 national founding executive committee (NFEC) members that attended the meeting of May 7 in Harare.
The 29 NFEC members included seven provincial chairpersons. The constitution is clear about the powers of the NFEC, but it is not surprising that Mutinhiri and Jim Kunaka may not even be conversant with the party's constitution.
EM: Mutinhiri is a founding member, was he part of the meeting that expelled him?
JM: Mutinhiri is not a founding member. He was not confirmed by the April 10, 2018 national founding executive committee meeting, which he boycotted.
He was only co-opted on the 9th of May after he had begged to be forgiven.
EM: Why was he absent from the meeting that fired him?
JM: Mutinhiri has never attended the NFEC meetings except the May 9th one. He was invited for the meeting by the chairperson, but as usual did not turn up and the meeting proceeded and resolved to recall him.
In fact, one of his transgressions included not taking party business seriously, demonstrated by his non-attendance at most of the meetings and even rallies that the party held.
On this meeting, he ignored the invitation by the party chairperson, but was later contacted by thugs that claimed they were sent by Saviour Kasukuwere and informed him the meeting was meant to be a coup against him, that's when he sprang into action, and joined the thugs to disrupt the meeting.
EM: What will you do now that Mutinhiri says he is still president and has fired you from the party?
JM: It is laughable and reflects upon his lack of understanding of procedure and even the constitution of the party that he was leading. It would help Cde Mutinhiri and his handlers to understand that the only organ that can fire, recall or reverse any expulsion is the national founding executive and it is that organ, which sat initially at Margolis Resort before the meeting was disrupted by thugs hired by Mutinhiri and his handlers, which later on met at a hotel in Harare and passed a resolution to recall him in light of his nonchalant approach to duty, gross incompetence and failure to steer the party in the direction envisaged by its founders and supporters.
Mutinhiri knows the powers that the NFEC has. That's the reason why he appealed to the same body on the 9th of May 2018 to forgive him for his misdemeanours and dereliction of duty.
If he was the all-powerful president that he is purporting to be now, why would he beg for an organ to accept him back into the party at that time? So Mutinhiri was recalled by the NFEC and it doesn't happen that he has the powers to fire that organ.
EM: What was the reason, in your view, for disrupting the meeting?
JM: Because they knew the NFEC was going to endorse section 3. 3. 1 of the party's constitution to allow the party to work with other parties.
EM: Mutinhiri's faction says former first lady Grace Mugabe is behind the chaos in the party because she wants to be the leader. How far true is that?
JM: We are hearing that lie for the umpteenth time and the only benefit we derive from it is the realisation that Mutinhiri and his few hangers-on are being handled by the junta.
That is the same lie that was used by the junta, (vice-president Constantine) Chiwenga and (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa to destroy Zanu PF and it is quite interesting that it is being thrown about now to try to destabilise NPF.
We are grateful that eventually those that the junta had planted among us are showing their true colours and there is no better way for them to expose themselves than their fervent attempts to soil the former first lady's name and drag it into a junta hatchet job they have been paid to do.
Former first lady Grace Mugabe is not a member of the NPF.
She has not expressed interest in being a member, let alone an office holder in the party.
It is quite unfair, therefore, that those who have been relieved of their duties because of their gross incompetence try to hide behind a blatant lie that Dr Mugabe wants to come and lead NPF.
We have to confront the situation as it is, the issue is not about Dr Mugabe, the issue is about the alliance and the need for the party to form a coalition as provided for in the transitional clauses in the constitution.
Our erstwhile comrades were, therefore, bought by the junta to destabilise the coalition because the junta is fully aware that such a coalition will be invincible.
EM: You have made claims that Mutinhiri and his handlers were bought, the same claim they have also made against you? So what is the truth?
JM: I have pointed out that the evidence that Mutinhiri is being handled by the junta is reflected in the kind of lie they are now propagating against Dr Mugabe.
We know the junta created that lie to justify the coup and now bizarrely, Cde Mutinhiri is running with the same feed to try to destroy NPF.
The thugs that were hired gave out so much before they disrupted the meeting at Margolis Plaza, including, but not limited to the fact that they were targeting Mawarire because they believed he had key documents about alliance building and the talks thereof.
It was evident that the lie about Dr Mugabe was conveniently brought into smoke screen the real reason why Mutinhiri and his junta handlers want to destroy NPF.
The issue is about the alliance that has the portance to end the eight months old reign of the junta.
Mutinhiri, Chiwenga and Mnangagwa know that they have absolutely no chance even in hell of defeating a grand national union that involves the MDC Alliance and NPF.
The flop of the Zanu PF so called solidarity march a day after the phenomenally attended MDC Alliance rally heightened the fear of an electoral loss by the junta and the desperation we are seeing.
We will not be moved by these sideshows, in fact, have budgeted for them when we embarked on this journey. Those with us are more than those that are against us.
EM: You have talked of Mutinhiri's handlers, can you elaborate?
JM: His handlers is the junta through Kasukuwere. If you saw pictures of Mutinhiri's press conference, you will understand better the point I am making.
It is clear that his half-brother, nephew Chipondeni and the woman who gave Kasukuwere refuge in South Africa, Fiona Ricket were the ones pushing poor Mutinhiri to show some acts of bravado.
EM: How about reports that a businessman who is funding the party has put a condition that Grace Mugabe is made VP?
JM: I don't know that person. NPF is not funded by your anonymous business person.
It is funded by the generality of its supporters and sympathisers whom we don't ask whether there are business persons, teachers, and nurses.
These supporters and corporate good Samaritans have never given conditions on their support.
We are a democratic party and therefore those who come to use even with assistance, know that we believe in democratic processes, that is why our leaders will always come from the people.
EM: Mutinhiri and Jim Kunaka have claimed that Grace Mugabe is also one of the NPF funders. What is your reaction to that?
JM: It is part of the smear campaign aimed at maligning president Mugabe and his family.
It's a lie that the junta has been pushing and we believe Mutinhiri and Jim Kunaka, by repeating the same lie, have just joined forces with the junta in a systematic propaganda campaign aimed at the former president.
EM: Do you have any evidence that Saviour Kasukuwere is working with Mutinhiri?
JM: Yes, the thugs that were hired gave out everything. Even the fact that his half-brother and nephew, who were initially resisting Mutinhiri have now suddenly realised he can be easily used.
In fact they started working together five days ago. I called Kasukuwere and told him that the thugs who disrupted our meeting were saying they were getting instruction from you.
Predictably, he denied but when I implored him to confront them if he was not their godfather, he repeated the lie that he has been telling us that he has taken a sabbatical from politics.
The thugs had, however, blowed his cover.
EM: Has Grace Mugabe's name featured in your talks with the MDC Alliance?
JM: We have never told you we are in talks with the MDC Alliance. Even if we are in talks, they are between the NPF and MDC.
EM: But you said the fallout with Mutinhiri is about the coalition? Which coalition then?
JM: I spoke about the coalition and in fact, the grant national union and never specifically talked of bilateral talks with the MDC, more importantly, where I did not mention a specific coalition partner, it is unfair for you to fill in the gaps.