HARARE – Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene has slammed South Africa’s Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande, labelling him a “daft politician”, after he described President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF as a “rural party”.
This comes as the South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary told a Cosatu meeting in Pretoria on Monday that Zanu PF had lost the largely black urban voter base after embarking on a controversial land repossession programme that brought the once-prosperous southern African economy to its knees.
And this did not go down well with Chimene, who, in an unsolicited response, came out guns blazing, saying Nzimande did not understand why liberation movements took up arms against white minority rule.
“It goes to show how daft he is as a politician because he thinks we went to war so that we could take residence in suburbs when the fact is that we fought for land and that is why we value the rural vote,” she fumed.
In his address, Nzimande blamed Mugabe for seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks who had little or no experience in agriculture after his popularity ratings had slid.
“Because iZanu PF essentially has lost the middle class has lost many urban-based organisations, it’s become a rural party because of the mistakes they are making. Now ama comrades are denying that there is a problem,” he said.
Nzimande bemoaned the fact that Zanu PF had alienated workers, professionals and academics, despite them having helped the ruling party in the struggle for independence.
But Chimene argued the rural areas was where the bulk of the ruling party supporters are.
The rural vote has been the mainstay of support for Mugabe and Zanu PF, which liberated Zimbabwe from white minority rule in 1980 after fighting a guerrilla war.
“He (Nzimande) doesn’t know where the people are, hence his thinking is misplaced. The war of liberation was fought in rural areas, not in towns. Whether people are educated or not, they all have rural homes, so what is wrong with us putting our emphasis there,” Chimene said.
“Even the African National Congress (ANC) knows the importance of the rural folk and I really don’t understand where this comrade is getting his political ideology from. It’s silly, really,” she added.
Zanu PF and the ANC — which is in a tripartite alliance with the SACP and Cosatu — have a long history of friendship dating back to the liberation struggle days when the two collaborated in fighting their respective colonial governments.