AS the infighting escalates in Zanu PF, a plot to besmirch party spokesman Rugare Gumbo could have inadvertently revealed President Robert Mugabe’s character and how the veteran ruler was strongly opposed to a unity deal with Zapu.
The Herald, which has been at the centre of Zanu PF’s factional fighting, published a 1980 article where Gumbo reveals how Mugabe instigated his arrest following the party spokesperson’s advocacy for unity between Zanu and Zapu.
In the interview, the Zanu PF spokesman reveals how Mugabe had asked him about unity between the two parties and how this had angered the president.
“He said ‘Gumbo do you want to dissolve Zanu and join the PF (Patriotic Front)?’ I said yes, if that’s the only way we can unite the people of Zimbabwe, because as far as I am concerned, the issue of unity is above party politics,” Gumbo is quoted saying.
“Mugabe said ‘I will never leave Zanu. I will do everything to make sure we do not unite with Zapu’.
“Shortly after, we were arrested and detained.
“When we were detained, Mugabe would come and see us in the pits, where we were kept like animals. He would laugh at us, taunt us, we were tortured. He laughed. He enjoyed seeing us suffering. He is ruthless.”
The story could all but burst a bubble in one of Mugabe’s legacies, the Unity Accord, where he is portrayed as a unifier, a person who pushed for unity between Zapu and Zanu.
As if to cement the Zanu government’s opposition to the unity between the two parties, the government launched Gukurahundi in Matabeleland and the Midlands, a genocide that reportedly claimed 20 000 lives.
Giving credence to critics who claim the Unity Accord was not between equal parties, but rather Zapu was swallowed, Gumbo says Mugabe uses people and dumps them when they have served his purpose.
“He uses people — the presidents of the (then) Frontline States, people like Joshua Nkomo to build himself up, then he tries to destroy them,” Gumbo is quoted as saying.
“He cares nothing for the people or the country. All he cares about is Mugabe.”
Critics have in the past few weeks accused State media of taking sides in the factional battles in Zanu PF, with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Gumbo and war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda being in the firing line in recent days.
Gumbo accuses Mugabe of spending thousands on shopping trips in Europe with his wife, an accusation levelled at the president to this day.
In the 1980 interview, Gumbo says he would do everything to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe were united, before ominously warning what Mugabe’s rule meant for Zimbabwe.
The Herald published the February 21 1980 interview under the guise of portraying Gumbo as speaking for a faction, rather than Zanu PF and Mugabe.