HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday revealed how a desperate Zanu PF had dispatched its leading lights to him, allegedly including former State Security minister Nicholas Goche, to try and broker a deal that would save the party’s and President Robert Mugabe’s bacon after they had lost the March 2008 elections.
Amplifying the stunning revelations at the weekend by former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa that Zanu PF bigwigs had been left numbed by that surprising loss, the former prime minister’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said Zanu PF had initially conceded defeat but soon changed its position and went on to use thuggish methods to remain in power.
Speaking to the Daily News from Tsvangirai’s Highlands home where he said he had gone to get more details and “the true story” about the 2008 events from his boss, Tamborinyoka however, disputed Mutasa’s assertion that the opposition leader had contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by running away from the country after winning the polls instead of seizing power at the time.
He said Tsvangirai had only left the country for Botswana at the time because his life was indisputably in danger at the time, in addition to also using the opportunity to drum up much-needed regional and continental support.
“You should know, for example, that Goche held a meeting with (former MDC deputy treasurer-general Elton) Mangoma and conceded defeat.
“Goche asked that we accommodate Zanu PF in the new government. After initially conceding defeat, they then went on to hold their own politburo meeting where they reversed that decision and said they would now go for a presidential run-off.
“Mind you, in the March 14 Sadc meeting before the delayed election results came out (former South African President Thabo) Mbeki spoke about the possibility of a run-off and when we look in retrospect we can now conclude that a plan was already underway to subvert the will of the people,” Tamborinyoka said.
Goche, who has since been brutally purged from both the post-congress Zanu PF formation and the government — on untested claims that he, former Vice President Joice Mujuru and other party bigwigs were plotting to oust and kill Mugabe — was once one of the nonagenarian’s most trusted lieutenants.
It was in that light that he was subsequently appointed one of Zanu PF’s negotiators in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) talks that ultimately led to the formation of a stabilising government of national unity.
Although the MDC and Tsvangirai won the 2008 elections, authorities later said, after weeks of suspicious prevaricating on the election outcome, that he had failed to garner enough votes to win the presidential poll outright — which they claimed necessitated the holding of a run-off that was characterised by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.
“Tsvangirai went out to engage the region and he didn’t flee as alleged by some. He went to engage the region and the region did intervene if you check the record,” Tamborinyoka said yesterday, going on to urge Mutasa to “reveal all and stop hiding under the alleged oath of secrecy”.
“It is really amazing that Mutasa is finally coming out and stating what took place. But we want to know everything. He should tell the nation who withheld the results, who killed innocent Zimbabweans and who subverted the will of the people. He should tell all,” Tamborinyoka said.
“While we appreciate that he has finally seen the light, he must stop hiding behind the oath of secrecy and reveal all about the murders, abductions and violence,” he added.
Tamborinyoka said Mutasa’s weekend remarks fully justified why his party had resolved to boycott elections until critically-needed electoral reforms were implemented.
“What Mutasa said vindicates our stance that no reforms, no elections. As long as there are no reforms, the will of the people will always be subverted. So we say no reforms, no elections and we are not going back on that,” he said.
Mutasa, a former close Mugabe confidante revealed for the first time at the weekend that he and other Zanu PF officials were shocked out of their pants after Tsvangirai and the MDC won the 2008 elections — to the extent that he had rushed to Harare from Rusape to try and protect Mugabe at his official residence.
Now out in the cold after being axed from the ruling party for siding with Mujuru, Mutasa said: “I immediately drove, at speed and alone, from my home in Rusape, to State House in Harare.
“I was terrified, I had to go and protect the president from harm as we were frightened Tsvangirai would do what he said he would do and march to State House. If he had, no policeman would have stopped him. Instead,” Mutasa laughed, “Tsvangirai went to Botswana.”
In those elections, Mutasa was the only Zanu PF senior official who retained his parliamentary seat, while Tsvangirai easily beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential poll before pulling out of the second round because hundreds of his supporters had been killed.
“I don’t know how much cheating there was in elections, but I do know that in 2013 (Finance minister) Patrick Chinamasa cheated to win. He bussed people in (to vote for him.) I protested to him and to the Zimbabwe Election Commission.
“We will never know how many people voted for Zanu PF out of fear. I didn’t know there was fear in those days. I now see it myself. And there is a lot of fear. And I must say, again, I am very, very sorry. That I must stand up to be counted.”
Mutasa also said that he regularly chaired the informal but powerful Joint Operations Command, a structure of top security personnel that meets once a week.
“We discussed many things, such as violence. How to stop it. If food was short we talked about how to find it, usually from South Africa. The joint command did produce top-secret documents every week.
“Secrecy still binds me, from when I was minister. But of course, you know that some waiters in hotels work for the CIO. Your phones are listened to a lot. The CIO is huge.
“It produces many reports. From the UN, there will regularly be a report. A report about the British. Or India. Not very good reports really. I had to read them. They made me tired.”
“I do now know that Zanu PF did violence. And cheated in elections. But both sides did violence, I accept it was mostly Zanu PF violence. I am very sorry about that,” Mutasa said.