By – Former Zanu PF political commissar, Retired army boss Lt. Gen Engelbert Rugeje recently dominated a Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting and gave orders to party leadership.
Rugeje has been passive and hardly given chance to address members of the party during Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meetings in Masvingo.
However, the recently held PCC at Victoria Junior School saw a rejuvenated Rugeje speaking authoritatively and stamping authority on various issues that were raised during the meeting.
The new provincial chairperson Robson Mavhenyengwa also publicly showed unwavering allegiance to Rugeje, addressing him as ‘Sir’ all the time.
Rugeje overshadowed even Lovemore Matuke, the most senior politburo member in the province, during the meeting.
“The politburo said they have endorsed Masvingo results. This means the new leadership is the one recognised now. I hear, see, receive phone calls and messages from other people suggesting there will be changes but that will never happen.
“Let us not waste time thinking the chairperson and his team will be removed and get another one. There is nothing like that,” said Rugeje, authoritatively.
The former army boss however, gave a hint that Mavhenyengwa should consider not seeking re-election after his term as he might also want to be the next chair.
“Chairman, I have congratulated you. You will lead us for the next four years. I am a very honest person so let me tell you: yours are only four years. If you want to continue then that’s another issue because I may also want to contest for the position,” Rugeje said.
“A person is given his time, have to work within the stipulated time and give others a chance. Let me reiterate that, no one is given a position for a lifetime like a Chief,” he emphasised.
Sources within Zanu PF said Rugeje had been a spent force politically but bounced back and is now powerful owing to his ties with Chiwenga.
“Rugeje is now powerful. He has been silent since he was dismissed but now has bounced back. The way Mavhenyengwa continuously addressed him as ‘Sir’ shows that he is now a power to reckon with,” said the source.
Chiwenga has lately been a regular visitor to Masvingo province. Last year he came for the national clean-up, a week before the provincial elections that were held on December 28, 2021 and on February 2, 2022 for the World Wetlands Day commemorations, a development which has been interpreted by many as a way of strengthening his grip on the province which has remained the ‘boiling pot’ of Zimbabwean politics.
Rugeje went on to warn former Provincial Political Commissar Jeppy Jaboon whom the PCC recommended for his welcome in the party against contesting for any post before the stipulated time (five years) lapsed.
“There are others who have been welcomed back into the party, we would want to follow the regulations and they cannot hold any post ahead of those who have been loyal to the party,” said Rugeje.
“The Chiwenga faction wants to consolidate its grip on the province through incorporating militant characters like Jaboon who would make the task easier. They also want to use him to fight Energy Mutodi who is eyeing Bikita South seat, threatening the incumbent Josiah Sithole,” said a party source. TellZimNews