AS THE country’s political and economic crises continue to deepen, former Zanu PF youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu has reiterated that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa are failing Zimbabweans badly by not ending their feud and putting the nation’s interests first.
Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday in an exclusive interview at the weekend, Tsenengamu — who now leads the anti-corruption pressure group, Front for Economic Emancipation in Zimbabwe (Feez) — also said it was time Mnangagwa took decisive action against rampant public sector corruption.
All this comes as Zimbabwe is in the vice grip of a ginormous economic crisis, its worst in a decade, which has triggered restlessness and anxiety among long-suffering citizens.
The firebrand Tsenengamu accused Mnangagwa and Chamisa in his interview with the Daily News On Sunday of pursuing selfish interests at the expense of the country.
“At first I thought the failure (by Mnangagwa and Chamisa to dialogue) was because of some hardliners in both parties, but now it seems it is just because of the egos and arrogance of the leaders.
“They want to continue to score cheap points against each other. I blame both for their political grandstanding at one point or the other.
“They are proving to be selfish and uncaring for the suffering masses,” Tsenengamu let rip.
“I thought that they were going to put Zimbabwe first, but it seems their personal and party interests come first before Zimbabweans.
“I believe that both may at some point look back with regret at the chances they so abused. It is just a matter of time. We are divided and polarised people who subscribe to toxic politics, which is characterized by hate, vengeance, insults, and mistrust.
“Zimbabwe now requires leaders more than politicians and leaders are in short supply,” Tsenengamu further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“Those supposedly in leadership across the political divide continue to want to score cheap points against one another and it is very sad and unfortunate.
“I believe in unity and oneness. Unity is power. As far as I know, Zanu PF can do without the MDC and the MDC can do without Zanu PF. But Zimbabwe can’t do without all her children. Unfortunately, our leaders don’t see it that way,” the fearless Tsenengamu added.
This comes as both Mnangagwa and Chamisa have previously said that they were open to dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened — primarily because of differences over the form and platform on which the talks should take place.
On his part, Mnangagwa has demanded that any talks with Chamisa should be held under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — where he regularly holds meetings with fringe opposition leaders.
Chamisa himself has ruled out joining Polad — demanding direct dialogue with Mnangagwa instead.
At one time, both men appeared ready to finally end their brawling when former South African leader Thabo Mbeki held talks with them last year over the country’s worsening economic rot.
Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe, who are both late — was in the country in December to try and nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold direct talks.
Turning to Mnangagwa’s leadership performance since taking over from Mugabe via a popular military intervention in November 2017, Tsenengamu said the 77-year-old had so far failed to step up to the plate.
“If we say he is not in charge, then that means he is a weak leader and maybe a placeholder. And if that is the case, then it means that he is unfit for his position.
“If we also say that he is being misled by alleged lieutenants, then it also means that he is not what we thought and believed him to be,” Tsenengamu further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“How could a whole president be misled when he has all the apparatus at his disposal … think of the intelligence services in the defense, CIO, and police.
“Are they all misleading him?” he asked rhetorically.
“He has a whole Cabinet, the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) … politburo, central committee, and the Political Actors Dialogue … all there to advise him and you still suggest that he is being misled. Why?
“We don’t want a repeat of the Mugabe scenario where everyone would say the president is right but those around him are the bad ones. No,” Tsenengamu further told the Daily News On Sunday.
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“If his lieutenants are misleading him and he doesn’t see that, then he does not deserve the position.
“I would not want to apportion blame on those without the mandate to lead and govern.
“He is the president and the chief executive of this country. He must just pull up his socks,” the Feez boss further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“I am of the opinion that he must start listening to advice. Of late, many in the corridors of power have been complaining that he is not a good listener despite what he pretends to be in public. If he wants other people to work with him and help him achieve, then he must also be ready to take advice,” Tsenengamu added.
Turning to corruption, he claimed that Mnangagwa and his colleagues in Zanu PF were not ready to act decisively on the scourge.
“The generality of the (Zanu PF) membership wants corruption to be dealt with and crushed ruthlessly, as it is affecting them always. But the top leadership for one reason or the other is not ready.
“When we named and shamed corrupt individuals in June/July 2019, the politburo constituted a commission of inquiry which never saw the light of day.
“This proves the insincerity of those in leadership,” Tsenengamu said.
Despite being feted like a king when he replaced Mugabe following the nonagenarian’s stunning ouster by the military in the widely supported November 2017 putsch, Mnangagwa and his government have found the task of repairing the country’s broken economy very tough.
To underline how troubled the economy has become, last month, the government all but signaled a return to dollarisation — after under pressure Finance minister Mthuli Ncube awarded civil servants and pensioners allowances in US dollars.
The decision came as the country’s economy is rapidly approaching the horrors of a decade ago when the Zimbabwe dollar was decimated by hyperinflation — with prices of most basic consumer goods now out of reach of the majority of citizens.
Then, Zimbabwe binned its worthless currency and introduced the multi-currency system which was anchored by the US dollar.
Despite this system has served the country well for more than a decade, Ncube rattled the markets in June last year when he prematurely and ill-advisedly ended the local use of the US dollar and other foreign currencies.