By Cedric Steele
IN the years following the 2013 election, it was clear that late former President Robert Mugabe, in his ninth decade of life, had no intention of stepping down and made no attempt to groom an heir apparent.
Battle lines were being drawn between individuals vying to succeed him, including his wife Grace. By the following year, the ruling Zanu PF party squabbles had degenerated into full-blown factional “warfare”.
The first casualty was Joice Mujuru, then the first Vice-President. Her removal was completely orchestrated and executed by then First Lady, Grace, as she was the next in line of succession in terms of the Constitution.
The very same month after Mujuru’s ouster, then Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced her as Vice-President. The two remaining factions now known as “lacoste” (crocodile) headed by Mnangagwa and the “G40” headed by Grace but directed behind the scenes by a coterie of ambitious young politicians, most notably, among them Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao (Mugabe’s nephew).
The political positioning and animosity between the two factions was vicious. The two camps were at each other’s throats with verbal and political salvos being launched almost on a daily basis.
People in high offices were being investigated and arrested for alleged crimes of corruption at a rate never seen before in this country.
Moyo felt that all the political intrigue was right up his street, after all he hadn’t forgotten about the Tsholotsho debacle and the treachery he felt had been perpetrated against him.
With three Mugabes in his camp, namely Grace, Zhuwao and the President himself, he must have felt he was in a winning team if and when the chips would eventually fall.
The stage was set for one final bruising confrontation between the two factions vying to rule Zimbabwe.
When the dust settled, Mugabe was removed from power and Mnangagwa installed as new President.
As for our intrepid propagandist Moyo, he fled the country as did the main players in the G40 faction, where they remain in self-imposed exile today, but not Grace.
As is the case in so many countries on the African continent, he who controls the armed forces is the ultimate custodian of power in that country, which in this case was the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga.
It didn’t help that Moyo had questioned and mocked the PhD attained by General Chiwenga, who was the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, but never thought to do the same for Grace who was dubiously “awarded” a PhD in 2014 by University of Zimbabwe, some two months after entering the programme.
It is unfortunate that Moyo and his associates are victims of the toxic and deadly politics that they helped to create, perpetuate and ensured took root in the country, but it may also be a long overdue dose of karma.
Whichever way you look at it,so dangerous is this diabolical snake pit masquerading as politics that it nearly consumed Mnangagwa, who had to flee the country in the dead of night fearing for his life — such was its ferocity. After 40 years of independence, this is where we are today in Zimbabwean politics, a zero sum game — kill or be killed.
One would think that having nearly been a victim of such awfulness, once in power, he would be inclined to dismantle such a destructive political system. Instead, virtually all the same structures and actors remain in place, just a few changes at the very top. How can we expect things to change?
This brings us to the apology. Contrition can be a first step towards redemption and should not be taken lightly after all, how many of these fallen politicians have bothered to do the same? A prime example of another character who caused untold suffering to the people of Zimbabwe and almost single-handedly wiped out billions of dollars (US dollars or equivalent) in savings due to his and Zanu PF’s ruinous policies when he was Governor of Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono. To this day, he has never apologised.
Unfortunately, as for Moyo’s apology, I don’t think there will be many takers, he had been too toxic to digest and it is too little too late. These people seem to see their evil ways when they have no power to do the right thing and make a substantial difference. Most politicians forget the golden rule that no matter how much good you think you may have done, you will ultimately be judged and remembered for the bad things you have done.
Mugabe is an obvious example. He is still beloved by many for things like fighting a terrible racist regime and gaining the country’s independence under black majority rule, returning stolen land to the rightful owners and spearheading an education drive within the country that continues up to today, among others.
However, the mass murders in Matabeleland, the mismanagement of the economy leading to mass emigration, the brutal oppression of any opposition to his rule, the deeply entrenched government corruption and the unbridled greed of his wife and immediate family, to name but a few, are what he will ultimately be judged for. Moyo’s legacy will almost certainly follow the same path of infamy.
It is, indeed, a sad state of affairs that politicians have to run for dear life and possibly have to live the rest of their lives in exile due to dangerously misguided politics. We should not be naïve, after all politics can be a very dirty business.
Ask any politician if his line of work requires him to be treacherous, deceitful and an all-around dishonest scumbag, the answer will probably be yes, if he wants to be taken seriously. This is of course, the wrong answer. The political landscape needs to undergo drastic change whereby honesty, integrity, intelligence and selflessness take centre stage and form the basis for progressive realpolitik. That is the only way this country can move forward meaningfully.
This article is by no means meant to be an “obituary” of or even an epilogue on Moyo, primarily because he is a man that should never be written off, after all, intelligence and cunning are traits that will always stand him in good stead. He has tried to stay relevant via social media, but this is more out of curiosity than anything else for now. The damage has already been done. Above all though, he and his kind are a reminder of how the hope of a strong, fair, forward-looking and democratic Zimbabwe for all its people has been put on hold by selfish shortsighted politicians.