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Jonathan Moyo’s nine lives


THE WRITING seemed to be on the wall for Information minister Jonathan Moyo when in August President Robert Mugabe called him the devil incarnate, but three months down the line he has emerged as an unlikely kingmaker.


Moyo rode aloft ahead of the Zanu PF congress and Mugabe’s uncharacteristic attack seemed a long forgotten issue, as the Information minister seemed to push an unprecedented media blitz against former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies.

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

For analysts, this is a characteristic of the love-hate relationship between Mugabe and Moyo, which is complex and sometimes rough.

Analysts believe Mugabe and Moyo need each other for mutual benefit after realising each other’s personal capabilities. Zanu PF’s succession battle was playing out in the State-controlled media and Mugabe’s unrestrained attacks on Moyo were seen as a tilt in the balance of power in the ruling party, with many predicting that the Information Minister would be the fall-guy of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction.

“He has survived not only during this period, but even before,” South Africa-based Zimbabwe media scholar, Trust Matsilele, commented.

“He carries the necessary brain that any dictator would want to employ, that’s why we should not be surprised by his survival. Mugabe wants to hold onto power, while Moyo wants influence.”

Matsilele said Moyo sold his service to the highest bidder and at this point, Mugabe needs the government spin doctor.

For years Moyo was expelled from Zanu PF after defying the party’s directive and stood as an independent candidate in 2005. Like a phoenix, he rose from the ashes to spearhead Mugabe’s run-off presidential campaign and from then his stock has been on the rise.

Mugabe has even applauded Moyo for running the 2013 election campaign. But Moyo’s unimpeded rise seemed to have hit a turbulent tide when Mugabe turned on him.

Former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa referred to Moyo as a weevil, while Zanu PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, described him as trickster and Mujuru said Zanu PF had been infiltrated.

 Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutas
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutas

But for the moment, Moyo seems to be having the last laugh, as the three were fired from their positions and he got a full politburo post.

“Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe have a love-hate relationship; they both realise each other’s capabilities and strategic importance,” Obert Hodzi, a Zimbabwean researcher and scholar of African politics based in Hong Kong, said.

“In the recent history of Zanu PF, Jonathan Moyo has been the brains behind its campaigns and manifestos and almost always secured results for the party,” Hodzi said.

“This explains why he was fast-tracked into the politburo when he rejoined the party.”

Bulawayo-based analyst Godwin Phiri weighed in, but described Moyo as a chameleon who changes colours to survive and push his personal interests.

“He is also likely being rewarded for correctly aligning himself as evidenced by his presence in the First Lady’s meet the people tour and the role of the public media in the dumping of the Mujuru faction,” he said.

“The president clearly views him as brilliant, hence the appointment after losing in Tsholotsho given his role in crafting the 2013 election plan.”

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