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Zanu-PF mum on Mugabe's Mandela furore

Zanu-PF yesterday remained tight-lipped in the aftermath of an angry retort from South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to comments from President Robert Mugabe directed at the neighbouring country's founding leader and anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday told journalists he had called Zanu-PF "secretary-general", possibly secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, to protest against Mugabe's "lies".

Chombo was unavailable for comment, with his mobile phone going unanswered. Information minister Christopher Mushohwe was dropping calls, while Zanu-PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo professed ignorance.

"Nobody has talked to me about it. If they wrote a letter of protest, it would have been directed to Chombo. I cannot comment on things that have not been communicated to me. The secretary for administration is better placed," Moyo said.

Mugabe is accused of ruining a once thriving economy inherited from Ian Smith's Rhodesian regime at independence in 1980.

A litany of populist policies wrecked what was then Africa's breadbasket into a basket case, but Mugabe remains adamant he is doing well.

Last week, the 93-year-old Zanu-PF leader, for the second time in as many months, launched an attack on Mandela, claiming South Africa's first black leader had prioritised his freedom over the emancipation of his people.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison before emerging to lead South Africa to freedom from the shackles of apartheid.

Mugabe said Mandela had failed to address the land issue, as well as leaving the economy in the hands of white people.

Mantashe said in his conversations with the top Zanu-PF official, he had demanded that the ruling party calls Mugabe to order.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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