THE family of the late Midlands provincial heroine, Espinah Nhari, yesterday claimed the suspended Zanu PF women’s boss was assassinated for her anti-G40 faction chant at a campaign rally addressed by First Lady Grace Mugabe in Gutu last year.
Addressing mourners in Kwekwe before her burial at the Midlands Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Gweru yesterday, Nhari’s son, Rodgers, said prior to her death, she received death threats from anonymous callers.
He said the callers felt offended by the women’s league’s secretary for administration’s “Down with G40” chant at the rally, adding the horrific accident, which claimed her life last Friday, was engineered by her detractors in the ruling party.
“My mother is dead because of [the] Gutu [rally]. But what happened at that rally, she did not attack anyone, but only spoke out against people, who were sending her threatening chats, but she became the victim instead,” Rodgers said, as emotions ran high, with some party youths threatening to name and shame Nhari’s detractors.
He said he knew some Zanu PF officials, who allegedly hounded his mother until her death in a head-on collision just outside Kadoma.
“I know some of you are here and you are happy — that’s not a problem, but we will win this battle. I have threatening messages — over 20 of them — which were sent to my mother,” Rodgers continued.
Zanu PF is divided into two distinct factions, with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa allegedly leading Team Lacoste, while Grace is linked to the rival G40.
The factions are reportedly jostling to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Nhari, a close Mnangagwa ally, was suspended from her women’s league post shortly after her “Down with G40” chant and was one of the 36 party members set to have their suspensions reviewed by Zanu PF’s disciplinary tribunal, headed by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko.
Rodgers told mourners that his mother had been approached and pressured to ask for forgiveness over her chant, but she refused.
“A lot of people asked my mother to ask for forgiveness, but she was principled and refused to sell her soul to the devil. Likewise, I will not sell my soul to the devil,” he said.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri described Nhari’s suspension as a miscarriage of justice.
“We were hoping that her suspension would have been lifted through her appeal, but, sadly, it won’t happen,” he said.
War veterans’ secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said the revolution was “watered by the blood of good comrades”.
“She (Nhari) had the guts to say what was on her mind and could speak up when things went wrong and she suffered for that. We lack such people in Zanu PF today,” he said.
In his graveside eulogy, Mnangagwa said: “Even though she is dead, her appeal, together with 36 others, will still be looked into, to establish what really went wrong.”
He said shortly after the accident, police had briefed Mugabe that Nhari had walked away from the scene without assistance and they even managed to record her statement.
“Police briefed President Mugabe about the accident and told him that Espinah left the accident scene without aid . . . What then happened, we don’t know,” Mnangagwa said.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF youths at the funeral chanted slogans and songs along factional lines, denouncing the likes of the party’s commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
The youths cheered as Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa, another Mnangagwa ally, arrived at the provincial shrine.
“Chikoforo (Cultivator — a term of endearment for Mahofa), they failed to kill you. Tyson (Kasukuwere’s nickname), you failed. Down with G40!” the youths shouted in praise of Mahofa, who endured a lengthy hospital stay after allegedly eating poisoned food at the ruling party’s conference in Victoria Falls last year.
Gokwe-Kana MP Owen Ncube then intervened and stopped the inflammatory chants. newsday