HARARE: Former president Robert Mugabe (pictured) has accused several of his former Zanu-PF lieutenants of betraying him in his hour of need and launched a fresh attack on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga for his role in his removal from power, the Zimbabwe Independent reported.

Mugabe, who is still bitter about his overthrow in November last year, met with former Mashonaland East governor and Zanu-PF regional chairman Ray Kaukonde at his “Blue Roof” mansion in Harare’s leafy Borrowdale suburb last week on Wednesday, where he poured his heart out once more. He singled out Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, Zanu-PF’s secretary of finance Patrick Chinamasa, and Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda as sellouts and did not seem keen on forgiving the trio.

According to reliable sources, during the meeting, Mugabe apologised to Kaukonde for hounding him out of the party in 2014 at the same time and attacked Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, accusing them of sedition. Chiwenga was at the forefront of the November 2017 coup that dethroned Mugabe when he was commander of the armed forces, to Mnangagwa’s benefit.

A strangely repentant Mugabe, sources said, requested to meet with Kaukonde where he told him he regretted axing him from the party at the height of the purges of former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s allies in the run-up to the 2014 Zanu-PF congress. However, typical of Mugabe, he did not accept responsibility for the purges as he claimed to have been influenced by unnamed senior Zanu-PF officials who were fighting a terminal factional and succession war at the time, chaperoned by Mnangagwa, then justice minister.

In February, Mugabe also met with Mujuru and apologised for her ouster in Zanu-PF. Sources say Mugabe also wanted Kaukonde to mediate between him and Mujuru so that he could render support to his former deputy who is one of the 23 presidential candidates eyeing the presidency.

Mujuru, who leads her own National People’s Party (NPP), is representing the Rainbow Coalition – a cocktail of parties challenging Zanu-PF in the elections. According to sources, Mugabe said he felt the need to apologise to Kaukonde, who was booted out of Zanu-PF in humiliating fashion after Mugabe’s wife Grace led a crusade against Mujuru and her backers, seen as the stumbling block to her rise to power.

“During the meeting, Mugabe apologised for removing him from the party for siding with Mujuru. He said he felt he needed to do so after having apologised to Mujuru. He said his decisions were influenced by ED (Mnangagwa’s initials) and Chiwenga. He actually said Chiwenga came in his military fatigues and sat in the chair behind him with a long military-style dagger and insisted that Mujuru and her allies should be removed from the party. He said he feared the long knife, something which Kaukonde appeared to disbelieve,” a source said.

The source said Kaukonde later confided in his friends that he had no problem forgiving Mugabe, but it would take a lot more for him to forgive Grace. According to the source, Mugabe then went on to outline the personal sense of betrayal that clearly still pre-occupies him while also devoting a generous amount of time to narrate his enduring sense of victimhood.

Mugabe is said to have branded Mnangagwa and Chiwenga as the two biggest traitors and his arch-enemies who conspired to wrest the presidency away from him after he had kept firm claws on power for a staggering 37 years.

“He had no kind words for those two. He blamed them for everything that has happened to him and kept referring to them as traitors,” the source said.

Early this year, Mugabe described Mnangagwa as an “illegal and illegitimate president” who rose to power through the barrel of the gun and yearned for assistance from the African Union to restore his presidency. Mugabe apparently does not attach much value to his resignation on November 21 last year, which he tendered under immense pressure from the army and following demonstrations that rocked the country. the independent