Bulawayo war veterans’ chairperson Japhet Phuthi is under fire over his utterances on the vacant vice presidency post, with war collaborators saying he lied that they were backing Zanu-PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo.
Over the weekend, Phuthi said war veterans and collaborators were behind Khaya Moyo to take over the post and labelled all other aspirants as renegades.
But war collaborators yesterday distanced themselves from the resolution that was made in their presence, saying Phuthi duped them saying they were going to hold a routine meeting, only for him to call a Press conference to insult senior members of the party and back the party’s national chairman for the post.
Christian Mabasa, the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators’ (ZILWACO) Bulawayo chairman, said they were not part of the resolution and did not want to be associated with it.
“As ZILWAO, we abide by Rugare Gumbo’s statement that President Mugabe will have a final say on the issue. We want to make it categorically clear that we respect all our senior leaders. As a party affiliate, we support the party position, we don’t dictate to the party,” he said.
He said Phuthi’s statement contained “subversive language” as words like “renegades” could not be used to describe party members.
“I was just called into a routine meeting and didn’t know that it was a Press conference. I was worried when I heard words like ‘omafikizolo’ being used. All the aspirants are very senior members of the party and need to be respected,” Mabasa said.
Wednesday, Phuthi maintained that war collaborators were part of the resolution to endorse Khaya Moyo and were buckling under pressure from Khaya Moyo’s rivals.
“These guys are making a U-turn. They saw the agenda of the meeting. They can’t turn around now and say they didn’t understand what was resolved. We know they are being misled by some people,” he said.
Phuthi said they did not mention names and were worried by clandestine campaigning which was going on.
“In any case, we didn’t mention names. We’re against people campaigning on an internal process,” he said.
Phelekezela Mphoko, who has declared his ambition to assume the post left vacant following the death of John Landa Nkomo, has criticised Phuthi, telling him to respect his seniors and desist from commenting on the party’s internal issues.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Rtd Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri have also shown interest in the second VP post, which has been occupied by ex-Zapu officials beginning in 1987 when Zanu and PF-Zapu signed the Unity Accord, ending political hostilities.