HARARE – Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora escaped death by a whisker last week after he was involved in a horrific hit and run car accident — amid fears that Zanu PF’s worsening tribal, factional and succession wars may have been at the heart of the calamity.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said although Dokora miraculously escaped the accident with minor bruises, his car suffered extensive damages which officials said could see it being written off or requiring tens of thousands of dollars to repair.
They said Dokora’s luxurious official Mercedes Benz vehicle was hit by a car “whose driver somehow contrived to overtake him on the left side” as he approached the intersection of Lomagundi and Harare Drive roads in the capital — heading north towards Westgate.
“The terrible accident occurred at around midnight and the minister was alone in the vehicle when he was suddenly side-swiped by a speeding vehicle whose driver somehow contrived to overtake him on the left side.
“The fact that the car was trying to overtake him on his left side and that the driver never stopped has caused a lot of panic within the minister’s circles, as they now suspect that it is the work of his political rivals.
“What makes the whole thing even more suspicious to them is the fact that State security officials decided that the car be taken straight to CMED (the government-run Central Mechanical Engineering Department) before a police report could be made.
“Now the vehicle has since been taken to Zimoco for assessment and repairs without police inspection, and it will require quite a substantial amount of money because it was extensively damaged,” one of the sources familiar with the accident told the Daily News yesterday.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said as far as she knew the matter had not been reported to law enforcement agencies, although it was possible that her colleagues could have attended the accident scene.
“I have always said that if the accident is not as serious as to have resulted in death, it is not necessarily reported to me. So, I am only hearing it from you,” Charamba said.
Dokora could not be reached for comment last night as he was said to have left for Kenya on government business after apparently being given the medical green light to travel.
Vehicle accidents involving senior Zanu PF officials and Cabinet ministers have previously drawn lots of suspicion both within the brawling ruling party and among ordinary Zimbabweans.
Zanu PF is currently divided right through the middle, with the camp which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe, the Generation 40 (G40) faction, involved in a life-and-death tussle with the VP’s backers, Team Lacoste.
The level of animosity between the two camps was laid bare last week when rival supporters bludgeoned each other in mindless bloodletting which forced the planned Bulawayo provincial coordinating committee (PCC) meeting to be aborted.
The growing fissures within Zanu PF have also seen a number of Mugabe’s Cabinet ministers, including his nephew Patrick Zhuwao, receiving death threats.
In April, Mashonaland Central provincial affairs minister Martin Dinha claimed he had received death threats while he was in Dubai.
“A female and a male called me and said usadakufira mahara (don’t die for nothing) using private numbers. They said ‘you have a family, be careful what you say’,” Dinha claimed then.
That was not the first time that Dinha had had threats made against his life.
In 2015, Dinha also received an AK47 bullet and a threatening message telling him to step down or risk suffering the same fatal fate that befell the late Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika — who died in a suspicious car accident in 2008.
The “parcel” with the bullet and threatening message was delivered to the minister’s office just after midnight — forcing the lawyer-turned-politician, a lightweight in Zanu PF, to go into hiding”.
Dinha has also previously survived several other attempts to oust him from his ministerial post.
Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane also found a bullet in his hotel room in Harare last year. The bullet had been placed on a headboard in the room.
This happened at a time when Zanu PF had ordered its Midlands province to conduct hearings against provincial leaders who stood accused then of threatening Hlongwane and two other ministers.
Zhuwao received death threats related to his public criticism of Mnangagwa and his supporters in the run-up to Zanu PF’s annual conference which was held in Masvingo late last year.
Observers have also previously said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s succession riddle is fuelling the party’s deadly infighting.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.