In a sensational claim that is set to rip the troubled Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) further apart, former State Security minister and one of the founders of the fledgling party, Didymus Mutasa, has accused former Vice President Joice Mujuru of working with the country's dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, while responding to claims by the Mujuru camp that he and the other ZPF elder, Rugare Gumbo, were working with intelligence operatives to derail her, Mutasa - who superintended over the CIO for a long time while still in government - counter-claimed that it was in fact the former VP who was allegedly collaborating with spooks.
He also said that contrary to the belief by many members of the public, Mujuru was still being 'guarded and protected' by intelligence operatives, more than two years after she was hounded out of the ruling Zanu-PF and subsequently fired from the government by President Robert Mugabe.
However, and according to the law, Mujuru is entitled to all the benefits accorded to sitting vice presidents - including pensions and holiday allowances, although there is no specific mention of security.
'I have not talked to any official in Zanu-PF other than the president. How could we be infiltrated as we stand? We are surprised that that accusation (about working with Zanu-PF and the CIO) comes from her because she is the one who is working with the CIO,' Mutasa told the Daily News in the exclusive interview.
'She is surrounded by the CIO, from her driver to her back people. The people who support her are people that I know very well. I even know them by name, so it is surprising to me that she would make such accusations.
'That accusation against Gumbo and myself . . . is what she is doing, and she thinks that is what we are also doing. If I was (working with the CIO) you would be the first to know,' the miffed Mutasa added.
But ZPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire scoffed at his claims, accusing Mutasa and other fired officials of working against progressive ideas.
'I used to think he is old, but I think he has gone beyond what old signifies. He was part of us and being the former CIO minister, it should have been his duty to fish out these elements for the good of the party.
'That he didn't, and those CIO elements are still in the party as he claims, shows two things. Either that Mutasa is deliberately lying in a futile attempt to alienate supporters from the party, or that those elements were planted by him and were doing work for him,' Mawarire fumed.
'At first they didn't want us to hold the 10 provincial rallies we did last year, and they didn't want the party to elect a substantive leadership at the convention. They also didn't want the party to enter into a coalition with other democratic forces.
'In fact, they didn't want anything good for the party and worked so hard just to make sure they remained in control of every activity and everybody in the party.
'Their idea of a party was a cultist organisation where Didymus Mutasa was the deity and Rugare Gumbo his prophet,' Mawarire added.
According to the Constitution, with regards to the remuneration and perks of the executive, 'A person who has ceased to be president or vice president is entitled to receive a pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting president or vice president, as the case may be, and such allowances and other benefits as may be prescribed under an Act of Parliament'.
The pensions and allowances are paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Mutasa and other ZPF party bigwigs have been feuding with Mujuru since their stunning public fall-out last week, which left the one-year-old movement on the brink.
This was after Mujuru that had expelled Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights - on account of them being alleged Zanu-PF agents and working to topple her from her interim position.
'Having done extensive consultation within the rank and file of the party and also in my capacity as the president with the executive authority to ensure its wellbeing, I hereby announce the expulsion of the following members from Zimbabwe People First with immediate effect: Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Luckson Kandemiri, Munacho Mutezo and Claudious Makova,' Mujuru said, justifying her decision to axe the bigwigs.
But no sooner had she completed her briefing than the situation turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press conference that they had also similarly and summarily expelled Mujuru from ZPF.
Mutasa and Gumbo have since taken control of the party's affairs after they claimed that they were the owners of the fledgling opposition party and its image rights.
Apart from her bickering with Mutasa and the other senior officials, Mujuru was also dealt a body blow when she suffered mass desertions, including receiving resignations from some of her longtime aides such as Sylvester Nguni, Ray Kaukonde and retired brigadier-general Aggripa Mutambara.
Mutasa also moved to blame Mujuru yesterday for allegedly causing mayhem in ZPF, further narrating how they, during their time together in Zanu-PF, had apparently plotted how to catapult her to power.
'We started talking about this thing (for Joice to lead) when we were still in Zanu-PF. Simon Khaya Moyo, Webster Shamu, Gumbo and myself used to go to her office (for this),' Mutasa told the Daily News.
'Sometimes we would go to the meetings together, sometimes we would go separately. But she knew that this could come about and as far as we were concerned we didn't see the reason why she took such a long time to make up her mind and become our leader,' he added.
Mutasa said the three of them (him, Mujuru and Gumbo) had initially agreed that they would have equal power 'but someone whispered in her ears the wrong words', leading to the current ruckus.
'The question about whether we can go back and talk to her can best be answered by Mai Mujuru. It's three people; two on one side and the other one on her side alone.
'We had agreed in principle that we would work together as equals, and that if there were any disagreements between us, we would stop and go and think, and then resume discussions the following time. But we had never had such an issue or position,' Mutasa said ruefully.
Despite the cracks in ZPF, Mujuru, who has been working behind the scenes with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other smaller parties towards the formation of the planned grand opposition coalition, remains confident of participating in the 2018 national polls.
And although Tsvangirai was said to be disappointed with the turmoil engulfing ZPF, the former prime minister in the government of national unity has said that Mujuru has proved to be a significant opposition player - and that the two would work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power next year.
Analysts have also consistently said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe's long rule - especially at this time when the country's economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu-PF united.
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