Moyo, the unlikely kingmaker

From right Information minister Jonathan Moyo briefs the two Vice-Presidents and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere at Mbiriya Primary School in Tsholotsho on Sunday
From right Information minister Jonathan Moyo briefs the two Vice-Presidents and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere at Mbiriya Primary School in Tsholotsho on Sunday
From right Information minister Jonathan Moyo briefs the two Vice-Presidents and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere at Mbiriya Primary School in Tsholotsho on Sunday

When Zanu PF Tsholotsho North candidate Jonathan Moyo held Vice-Presidents Phelekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hands aloft, he stood there like a boxing referee, declaring a draw after two pugilists had punched the stuffing out of each other and could not go on — except this fight is only just beginning.

By Staff Reporter

For the first time in Zimbabwe, two Vice-Presidents made their way to a campaign rally and it was no coincidence that it was to Moyo’s do, a subtle but important acknowledgement of his role as an unlikely kingmaker in Zimbabwe’s politics.

A few weeks after President Robert Mugabe’s contested victory in the 2013 elections, he conceded that Zanu PF’s win may not have been so emphatic had it not been for Moyo, and maybe both Vice-Presidents may want him in their respective corners, as the home stretch to succeed the veteran ruler begins.

It was telling that the Vice-Presidents made a beeline for Tsholotsho, which has now become synonymous with Zanu PF succession politics.

Moyo’s first foray into Zanu PF’s succession politics ended with him on the canvass, a bloodied nose and later tossed out of the ruling party’s political ring.

It was his nadir in politics. He was later to rise again, outside the ruling party and he conceded “it was cold outside Zanu PF”.

Never too far from Zanu PF’s succession politics, Moyo was in 2004 accused of leading a number of chairpersons in plotting Mugabe’s ouster and Mnangagwa’s elevation in what is infamously known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.

Ironically, eight years earlier he had disaffectedly written off Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe, saying while people may have forgiven him for his role in Gukurahundi, they may not necessarily have forgotten.

But being the wily wordsmith that he is, Moyo recently said “only a donkey does not change its mind”.

So it was only befiting that Moyo returned to the scene of his most stunning loss, but this time he returned triumphantly, as he begins conceptualising his latest masterpiece — reconfiguring Zanu PF’s succession matrix.

It was telling that this rally came a few weeks after Moyo seemed to pour cold water on Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe, but instead of the expected backlash from the Vice-President, he has cozied up to Moyo, probably an indicator of the former political science lecturer’s growing influence as a power player.

It was also interesting that Mphoko made the short trip to Tsholotsho, weeks after he refused to be called “second Vice-President”, a sign that he believes he too has a shot at the presidency, and he may need Moyo in his corner.

The two may have watched in awe as Moyo sat in First Lady Grace Mugabe’s corner, strategising the decimation of axed Vice-President Joice Mujuru and they thought they may rather have him in their corner rather than be against him.

As Moyo’s short history in Zanu PF will show, you would rather have him on your side rather than against, as the tale of axed party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa shows.

Mutasa thought he had Moyo, a weevil, against the ropes, but the Information minister wriggled himself out of the cul de sac and engineered a damaging knock-out punch that saw Mutasa fly out of the ring, never to return.

While Mnangagwa arguably remains the frontrunner to succeed Mugabe, Zanu PF politics has in the past 10 years served up surprises and there might be twists and turns in the race to the Presidency.

But whatever happens, Moyo will continue playing a central role in the succession issue and last weekend’s rally may be an affirmation of his growing stock in Zanu PF.


  1. I really enjoyed the creativity and excellent articulation of issues as demonstrated in this article. It comes as a welcome move away from the bad journalism that is daily dished up for our consumption by a critically compromised local media. Indeed Jonathan Moyo may be the unlikely king-maker as the story suggests; however, the man seems to be a most astute strategist who as a poltical science professor is using the Zimbabwean political landscape as his vast laborotary where he tries and tests various policies while gauging the emotions of the leadership and ordinary citizens. It would be folly to write off this man as someone with the real potential of playing a very influential role in shaping the political future of this nation.

  2. Is it only me …. ngamehlo ami yini bantu???
    Do you see the guy to the left of Mphoko (as you face the picture), in a red-checked shirt and brownish jacket …?? Eish, is it Jonathan Moyo speaking or it’s actually that guy speakind through Jonathan’s mouth??
    And the other guy in a grey jacket and white shirt, partially appearing behind Mphoko’s left ear isn’t doing any better either. The guys can’t even disguise their ‘team-work’…. So it might be true after all that when these Zanoids speak, the audience isn’t the one in front of them, but is another located ‘virtually’.

  3. Oh, I forgot ….uMphoko seems to have his escape route properly mentally mapped should that become necessary. What a life??

  4. Jonathan Moyo is none of the above. He is an opportunist, busy trying to ride his luck to the top of ZANU(pf). They will let him do his shenanigans only upto a certain extent ie making sure ZANU retained power in 2013. But thats as far as it goes. They know that he is a turncoat, and they have not forgotten his utternaces about trying ot destroy ZANU(pf) from within. They are watching him with hawkish eyes, like the guy in the chequered shirt sitting in the back there in that picture. As we move towards 2015, they will make sure that he is as far away from the kitchen as possible. Just watch

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