Oppah Muchinguri is the ‘chief weevil' says Margaret Dongo

HARARE – Daily News senior writer Fungi Kwaramba (FK) chats with firebrand war veteran Margaret Dongo (MD). Below are excerpts of the interview.

FK: What is your take of the ugly fights in Zanu PF? Is the First Lady Grace Mugabe justified in her utterances?

MD: Her last meeting was too emotional. She said a lot of things about the vice president (Joice Mujuru) that she has 10 percent shares in different companies including in the Daily News, but those remain allegations. It is clear that part of the information came from the president himself and Grace being angry, spilled the beans.

In her statements, she is right because what has destroyed this country is corruption and I don’t think there is anyone against Grace when she speaks against corruption. It is how she did it and the platform she used.

FK: Why is the VP being attacked now? What has changed?

MD: We have always spoken about the legacy. The VP is suffering for the legacy of her husband. Mujuru was everything, he was a womaniser, he was corrupt, he was everything. If you go back to the history of the former combatants, he was responsible for the demobilisation funds and abused them. He bought the whole of Bindura and the president knew about this and didn’t do anything. He was involved in diamonds and now Grace has picked it up and is spilling the beans.
Oppah is the ‘chief weevil': Dongo
FK: Why is it difficult for the first lady to sympathise with Mujuru?

MD: It is not Grace’s fault, it’s Bob’s fault because he knew all along about Mujuru’s deals but was afraid to stop him right from the 1980s when he abused the demob(demobilisation) funds, now he is using the wife as the spokesperson.

FK: What was the relationship between Mugabe and Mujuru after the war?

MD: Mugabe was abused by Mujuru because he was scared of him. There is so much that Mugabe knew about Mujuru that is why the CIO is there. I remember when I was still in the CIO, I picked some information about Mujuru but nothing was done. Mugabe knew everything including information about diamonds but there was nothing that was done on the army general.

FK: Why are you so sure that Mujuru was corrupt?

MD: Honestly, how can you have a general like Mujuru hiring a Boeing plane to go on holiday in Victoria Falls? There are a lot of freedom fighters who are suffering right now and Mujuru didn’t care, he was not socially-oriented, he was concerned about pleasing his clan.

FK: So why target VP Mujuru?

MD: Those are the mistakes of Mujuru not the wife. Why are the issues coming now? Why didn’t Mugabe speak long back about these issues? The other camp is using Grace to fight their war and since she is new, she is filled with emotions and therefore goes on to attack people.

FK: Who has suffered worst from the Zanu PF public fights?

MD: It is the both the vice president and the first lady. People who didn’t know the first lady now know what kind of woman she is and are sympathetic to the vice president. Some, instead of calling her the first lady, are calling her all sorts of names because of her statements.

FK: Should the VP resign as demanded by the first lady?

MD: She is not yet declared the chairperson of the league and thus has no power to say the VP should resign. Grace is full of anger, she felt betrayed by Mai Mujuru because the person who ran forth with this was Oppah without communicating with the VP and she appeared as if she was against Grace’s rise.

FK: What was the relationship between first lady and the VP before this fallout?
Oppah is the ‘chief weevil': Dongo
MD: They were very close. I remember during the funeral (of Solomon Mujuru), Grace spent a lot of time with the VP consoling her, so in this case the chief chipfukuto ndiOppah. Oppah and her faction have created this hatred between the first lady and the vice president. The vice president, in terms of the women forum, has the highest position and ana Oppah follow below. Mugabe allowed Oppah to bypass the vice president for selfish purposes.

FK: Going back to the struggle, who was more senior between the two Muchinguri or Mujuru?

MD: It was Mujuru.

FK: Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa claims he is the most trusted and loyal Zanu PF cadre to Mugabe. Do you think he should succeed Mugabe?

MD: That can be proved by the electorate and not him. That’s why we are saying the president should allow for elections. If he appoints, whoever is going to be appointed will be powerless, anoitwa nhapwa because you are subject to appointment, but if you are elected by the people, you can proudly say I am a people’s product and speak your mind.

FK: Do you regret ever saying Zanu PF top guns are all Mugabe’s wives?

MD: If they do not stand up against Mugabe then I have no regrets to say they remain Mugabe’s wives.

FK: What is your understanding of the factions, zvipfukuto (weevils) and gamatox?

MD: Zvipfukuto are those people who are corrupt who eat and destroy. Chikapinda muchibage chako chinosara chava hupfu and if you take gamatox, it kills zvipfukuto asi pane zvimwe zvinosara. The scenario is that there are some who are corrupt but there was a counter approach by the zvipfukuto accusing the gamatox of being corrupt.

FK: The first lady has said as a Zimbabwean, she has a right to aspire for any leadership position, do you see her going for a higher post?

MD: Yes, she has every right but it is a question of whether people are fools just to be ridden on their backs. If you look at the case yaMai Mugabe ndeye kupinda nepadumbu, short cut. I am coming to like her because she has dared men in Zanu PF to stand up.

FK: Is the infighting in Zanu PF a threat to national security?

MD: It is their creation, this factionalism has divided the war vets, it is going to divide the security sector and it is going to be a threat to national security. To prevent this, the president must call for elections during congress and not appoint leaders. He should not follow his way of appointing leaders because if he appoints panoita chimoto. If he appoints, it means he will be endorsing zvipfukuto. He has to come clean. If he appoints and Oppah is seen in the politburo, what would people from gamatox say?

FK: And how do you rate the first lady, was she able to contain factionalism as she claimed?

MD: The first lady is behaving like a misguided missile, why does she call for (General Constantine) Chiwenga to come and shoot her. And why was the first lady given planes to go and say thank you to women in the provinces who did not even nominate her. She was chosen by Oppah and should have said thank you to Oppah. Who did she want to thank, because it is not the povo in Murambinda that appointed her.

FK: So why did she have these rallies?

MD: Unless if there was a strategy by a certain faction to reach out to the people, then it was hijacked. I was around when the vice president was campaigning non-stop last year and she was travelling by road. People also need to question where the money was coming from, was it sanctioned by the party. Who sanctioned the campaign? Was it the party and if not, then who funded it? It is all shrouded in corruption. The majority of people who claim to finance this are businessmen who are failing to pay their workers.

FK: Do you see Zanu PF emerging united after the congress in December?

MD: If they do not hold elections, then it will be a disaster. These gamatox and zvipfukuto are going to continue until the next elections and that will be an advantage to the opposition. Daily News

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