Suspended Zanu (PF) politician, Rugare Gumbo is itching to clear his name once the “dust has settled” in the troubled revolutionary party following damning allegations that the liberation war icon has been selling out the party leadership in recent months as he allegedly did during the liberation struggle.
Gumbo has been the biggest casualty of the fallout in ZANU-PF precipitated by the entry of First Lady, Grace Mugabe, into mainstream politics. He was suspended for five years, although no reasons were cited for the decision. Several other ZANU-PF officials, among them eight provincial chairmen, have lost their positions as President Robert Mugabe swoops on members of a faction linked to his deputy, Vice President Joice Mujuru, ahead of the party’s congress, which opens early next month.
Several other bigwigs have their political fortunes hanging by the thread, among them Mujuru herself and Didymus Mutasa, the ZANU-PF secretary for administration. By the end of his five-year suspension, Gumbo would be almost 80 years of age, which means he is unlikely to be a factor in ZANU-PF anymore. This might as well be the end of his political career spanning over five decades.
And, during those five decades, Gumbo was arrested twice, first in 1962 for taking part in the organisation of a national strike, and in 1975, on allegations of taking part in the assassination of Herbert Chitepo, then ZANU chairman. He now stands accused of fomenting factionalism and having a hand in the Baba Jukwa saga. He was quizzed over the weekend in connection with the shadowy Facebook character accused of treasonous conduct seeking to topple President Mugabe.
Gumbo said that he would certainly make sure that he has his day as he wanted the truth to finally come out and clear his name from the sordid allegations levelled against him. “You will see for yourself, (that I have been accused wrongly) history will tell,” Gumbo said.
Following three weeks of an unrelenting onslaught against him from various quarters of ZANU-PF where calls for his removal from the spokesperson position for a potpourri of allegations ranging from misrepresenting the party; speaking on behalf of a faction; presenting own interpretations as party position; all the way up to plotting against the incumbent, Gumbo was finally given kicked to kerb at an extraordinary Politburo meeting held on November 13.
Although he had earlier resisted calls for him to step down as the mouthpiece of the ruling party, and stood his ground alongside Mujuru, who has had her own mounting woes facing as she does a cocktail of allegations; the 74-year-old party stalwart — the only surviving member of the Dare ReChimurenga which directed the liberation struggle during the imprisonment of other war time leaders, finally succumbed when the President Mugabe, after angrily giving a rap sheet in the Politburo of accusations against Gumbo, endorsed a motion to have him suspended from the party for five years.
The President accused Gumbo of selling out by plotting against the veteran 90-year old party leader. Citing a recording where Gumbo was supposedly heard talking about how if the party president first secretary refused to leave office they would remove him “(Laurent) Kabila style”, the President also brought into remembrance an incident in the liberation struggle where Gumbo supposedly revolted against his comrades.
“It is just rubbish,” Gumbo said, denying the allegations. “It is not a portrayal of the truth. And they don’t know the actual history of events in the liberation struggle . . . At some stage I will have to write my memoirs (of my life in the struggle and in the party),” Gumbo said, adding, that history would exonerate him. “Historians will tell,” he said.
Although he could not be drawn into saying when he would pen his own memoirs, Gumbo expressed that it was something he was bent on doing. “I am not a sell out. History will tell,” he said.
Gumbo’s scalp becomes one of many to be claimed in raging purge that has seen the revolutionary movement systematically ejecting any and everyone considered fanning factionalism with the party ahead of its elective congress to be held December 2 – 7. The blanket axe to grind in the party, over the past two months, has been that Mujuru has been leading a faction and working on ousting the President.
As such, the party has seen the Vice President stripped of all identified allies as call for her to resign mount. Eight provincial chairpersons aligned to Mujuru have so far been given the red card, among a host of others in the file and rank of the party who have also been booted for generally fanning divisions in the party. Gumbo was considered to be a pillar in the Mujuru camp.
Born March 8, 1940, Gumbo grew up in colonial Rhodesia in Belingwe district (renamed Mberengwa after independence) district of Rhodesia in 1940, educated government secondary school. Gumbo acquired tertiary education abroad during the early years of the nationalist struggle in the 1960s. He attained his first degree at Boston University in the United States. He studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then went to Canada where he studied for a Masters degree at Carlton University. He went further to study for a Masters in Education at Toronto University.
In 1962, Gumbo became actively involved in nationalist politics. This resulted in his arrest that year after taking part in the organisation of a general strike. He was released in 1962 and left for the US for tertiary education. After returning from the diaspora in 1973, Gumbo joined the liberation struggle which was popularly known as the Second Chimurenga. He was made secretary of information in the Dare ReChimurenga which was the external wing for ZANU. He worked under the chairmanship of Herbert Chitepo.
In March 1975, he was one the people arrested and detained on allegations of taking part in the assassination of Chitepo. He was imprisoned together with the likes of Simon Muzenda, Nathan Shamuyarira and Enos Nkala. Soon after his release from prison, Gumbo actively took part in the organisation of the liberation struggle in the provision of military support for the guerrillas.
He was also part of the delegation that went to Britain which resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement of December 1979. Gumbo has previously held senior positions in President Mugabe’s government He was minister of economic development from 2005 to 2007 and minister of agriculture from 2007 to 2009.