LABOUR minister Nicholas Goche had to flee for dear life yesterday after youths aligned to a faction reportedly headed by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa pounced on him, demanding that he be cleared of treason allegations, before he could attend any party meeting.
Goche was due to attend a provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) meeting in Bindura, when youths mobbed him, threatening to assault him if he insisted on attending.
This follows reports in the State media alleging Goche travelled to South Africa and Israel to hire hitmen to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, as factional fighting reaches a climax in Zanu PF ahead of next week’s congress.
Goche is reportedly aligned to a faction led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru in the race to succeed Mugabe.
The two, together with ousted party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, and secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, had been accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
They have, however, denied the allegations. No concrete evidence has so far been produced to support the assassination claims, with most analysts saying the charges could be trumped up.
According to a Zanu PF insider, who declined to be named, Goche was at the Bindura party offices to attend a PCC meeting.
Unbeknown to him, some youths had been hired to demonstrate against him following the allegations.
“The youths had already been mobilised when he arrived,” the source said.
“They were demanding that he be fired from the party over allegations he planned to assassinate Mugabe and fanning factionalism in Mashonaland Central province.
“Goche had to run for his life after youths besieged him and threatened to overturn his car.”
Goche’s mobile phone was not reachable yesterday.
Provincial chairperson Luke Mushore, his deputy Sydney Chidamba, secretary for administration Joseph Mapiki and provincial women’s league boss Dorothy Mashonganyika, among others, have already been booted out over allegations of supporting Mujuru and attempting to sabotage First Lady Grace Mugabe’s political rise.
Mugabe, on Saturday, before addressing a 12-hour politburo meeting, asked Goche about the allegations and jokingly advised Masvingo provincial chairperson Kudakwashe Bhasikiti that he belonged to the wrong basket, or faction.
Bhasikiti is believed to be in the Mujuru camp.
Meanwhile, during deliberations in Saturday’s politburo meeting, outgoing women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and other party members were said to have pushed for Mutasa’s ouster, accusing him of plotting to kill Mugabe and fanning factionalism in the party.
But Mugabe blocked the push.
In the last politburo meeting, similar calls were made, but again Mugabe is said to have sprung to Mutasa’s defence, openly telling members that he and Mutasa were long-time friends.
It is alleged that there are recordings of Mutasa telling a lover that they would kill Mugabe if he failed to cede power to Mujuru.
Mutasa could not be reached for comment yesterday.
So far, eight provincial chairpersons and several party officials have been booted out for aligning themselves with Mujuru.
Former Mashonaland provincial chair Temba Mliswa, who was the first to be booted out, pulled a surprise on Friday when he was voted to the party’s central committee.
But sources revealed that a team has been to the province to overturn Mliswa’s election to the central committee, as the purge continues.