LAST week’s election brought one of the biggest upsets in Zimbabwe’s political arena, with one of Zanu PF’s chief strategists, Jonathan Moyo, falling to MDC-T’s Roselene Sipepa Nkomo in the Tsholotsho North constituency.
Report by Nduduzo Tshuma
Moyo had been one of the most abrasive members of Zanu PF over the past three years, running roughshod over the party’s political opponents. He ran a barbed column in the Sunday Mail.
Professor, as he is popularly known due to his academic title, had been spoiling for elections for the past two years and on Wednesday he met his comeuppance, losing by just over 200 votes to Sipepa Nkomo.
Very few people would be sad to see Moyo’s back, although it will be too early to write him off.
The former Information minister, infamous for his acerbic tongue, did not hesitate to attack anyone who stood against his party’s stance. He went as far as labelling MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai of having an “open mouth shut mind mentality”and later an “open zip shut mind mentality”.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu also fell in the line of Moyo’s fire, with the professor calling her loquacious and cantankerous, among a number of insults.
Like the proverbial cat, Moyo seems to have nine lives and some think President Robert Mugabe may come to his rescue, again.
“I think in particular for Moyo, Mugabe will find ways to rescue him,” Effie Ncube, a political analyst, said yesterday.
“He is an important cog in the whole chain and perhaps the reason why Zanu PF is what it is presently.”
He believed that Moyo, a politburo member, was a vital cog in Zanu PF’s machinery and could not be dumped that easily.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo shared similar sentiments.
“It depends on how Zanu PF views him,” he said. “If they find him useful, they will appoint him to the government.
“Moyo’s advantage is that Zanu PF has won many seats so he will play a role in the government.”
However, while there is consensus that Moyo may yet be rescued again, it is no longer on his own terms and he may have a lesser role, with reduced power than before. Moyo’s political life has been a seesaw of sorts, rising from being a Mugabe critic, to becoming his staunchest ally, reverting to being critical of the veteran leader and finally to being his foremost praise singer. Before 1999, Moyo was one of Mugabe’s most fierce critics, before joining Zanu PF in the run up to the 2000 elections.
Moyo was appointed Information minister, becoming one of Mugabe’s closest advisors, a development that created a rift between him and senior party members from Matabeleland like Dumiso Dabengwa and the late Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and John Nkomo.
Moyo became the most powerful minister at the time, bringing a number of changes in the local television, radio and newspaper content. Its fortunes took a dip in 2005 after the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration, which reportedly plotted Mugabe’s ouster. Deflated, Moyo stood as an independent in defiance of a party resolution that the constituency he was eyeing be reserved for a woman candidate.
In 2008, after retaining the seat, Moyo worked with Zanu PF towards the 2008 Presidential run-off and at the end of the following year, he was readmitted into the party’s politburo.
Back in Zanu PF, Moyo became the foremost critic of the constitution-making process that put him at loggerheads with fellow party member, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, the party’s co-chairperson in the Copac.
After the Zanu PF primary elections, and when some disgruntled party members opted to stand as independent candidates, Moyo told the State media that it was “cold” operating outside the political institution.
However, as things stand and despite his decision to rejoin Zanu PF and contest under the party ticket, Moyo finds himself in the cold.