New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Why Jonathan Moyo Is Being Knifed By His Own

Photo: Nehanda Radio
Prof Jonathan Moyo

INFORMATION Minister Jonathan Moyo's future in government, and Zanu PF even, was uncertain Sunday after a livid President Robert Mugabe publicly and brutally denounced him during the funeral of national hero and former Cabinet minister Nathan Shamuyarira.

Mugabe's angry weekend tirade signalled an incredible fall from grace for a man credited with authoring Zanu PF's 2013 election manifesto, helping strategize a crushing victory for Mugabe in that crucial vote as well as crafting the ZimAsset economic blueprint post-polls.

So what brought matters to a head?

"Hubris and vaulting ambition," said a senior Zanu PF official and former top government bureaucrat who is said to have Mugabe's ear.

"Jonathan Moyo was now a Prime Minister in his own right. Foreign ambassadors who represent heads of state for their countries (in Harare) were now paying courtesies on Moyo more than they did to either the foreign minister or the President.

"The man seems to have exceeded his mandate in many areas and has ruffled too many feathers including in the security sector! He is now considered a security risk in many circles.

"It's partly (down to) disobedience to authority; his hasty nature and a great deal of looking down upon others, hence the comment from the President that Zanu PF is a party for simple people ... that intellectuals must leave the party as it is and not deceive the people.

"It is sad ... he has been on the comeback trail but his combative style when dealing with colleagues and looking down upon them could spell his downfall."

According to some accounts, Moyo worked so hard to ensure Mugabe's victory last year that he neglected to save his own bacon. He was duly fried as he lost the Tsholotsho North seat and only made it to Parliament thanks to Mugabe's grace.

But rivals ruthlessly drove the dagger in during last Wednesday's politburo meeting.

Devil incarnate

By the weekend, the deed was effectively done and Mugabe was twisting the knife, calling Moyo the "devil incarnate" and a "weevil" gnawing inexorably and destructively at the core of the ruling party in a bid to destroy it from within.

Who better to explain this stunning reversal of fortunes than those who wielded the dagger during Wednesday's hurly burly at Zanu PF's Harare headquarters?

"First a clarification," said a senior party official linked with the Zanu PF faction backing Vice President Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe.

"Moyo did not engineer Zanu PF's election victory as he encourages the media to think. The elections were won due to the force of President Mugabe's personality and the indigenisation programme both of which have nothing to do with Moyo.

"Regarding ZimAsset; yes Moyo is responsible for 75 percent of the work. But that is why the programme is weak on funding strategies because it was put together by a politician rather than an economic expert.

"Again, Moyo's troubles should be read in the context of the succession issue. Remember, he engineered the 2004 Tsholotsho debacle for Emmerson Mnangagwa.

"He had always wanted to be the kingmaker. So now again it's viewed in that context for the Mnangagwa faction. He (Moyo) was going for broke ... taking no prisoners!"

Mugabe charged Moyo with using his intellect and control of the state media to set party leaders against each other as well as appointing what he described as MDC sympathisers to editorial roles in the State-run media.

Following Moyo's appointment as information minister, senior editorial changes were implemented at Zimpapers which saw Edmund Kudzayi take over as Sunday Mail editor from Brezhnev Malaba while former NewZimbabwe.com editor Mduduzi Mathuthu took over at The Chronicle. Happison Muchechetere was also removed from the ZBC.

Media changes

Explaining Mugabe's anger over the changes, our source said: "The biggest problem with Moyo is that he gave the impression he was briefing the President yet it's not true.

"He never subjected anyone to security clearance as is normal practice. The way he fired Brezhnev Malaba (former Sunday Mail editor) ... was in bad taste. He then replaced him with an individual who is not a journalist.

"Now he (Moyo) wanted to transfer (deputy Sunday Mail editor) Munyaradzi Huni to the (Manica Post) for no apparent reason ... until he was told point blank to stop it by (George) Charamba.

"The party also has a long memory. It was not lost on many that Moyo used NewZimbabwe.com to attack the President and the party between 2005 and 2008."

Asked whether Moyo could rescue his Cabinet position, the official said: "If he survives, one of two things could happen; either he becomes even worse or he becomes a wet blanket (a person whose low spirits or lack of enthusiasm has a depressing effect on others).

"But I can't see him being the latter. He antagonises all of us!"

The passing of Shamuyarira also presented Moyo's rivals with an opportune moment.

"Shamuyarira never had a kind word to say about Moyo. The whole of last week was about the spirit of Shamuyarira and memories of how the national hero was attacked and undermined by Moyo were revived," said the Zanu PF official.

Shamuyarira fallout

Shamuyarira and Moyo fought bitter turf wars between 2000 and 2005 while the former was information minister and the latter in charge of publicity at Zanu PF headquarters.

After Moyo was sacked from the government and party in 2005 for allegedly plotting to topple Mugabe, Shamuyarira said: "having a chap like him will reflect badly on both the party and government".

Moyo also hit out at Shumuyarira after he defended the Gukurahundi campaign by saying the army's fifth brigade was merely doing its job.

He added that Mugabe, therefore, need not have expressed regret over the killing of at least 20,000 civilians, according to estimates from rights groups.

Responding, Moyo said: "It is very tragic that like many others in the Zanu PF hierarchy who are refusing to learn anything from their dark past, Shamuyarira remains in evil denial about the inescapable fact that only the Zanu PF government and its leadership are liable for the massacre of more than 20 000 people in Matabeleland and midlands provinces where many more lost their livelihood or homes.

"As such, Shamuyarira's shocking statement amounts to an arrogant confession about his culpability then and now. His comments should be used as a reference point by any future legal body or process that is certain to be set-up in the fullness of time to investigate the Gukurahundi atrocities with a view to permanently healing the still-open wounds of the victims through a number of humanitarian measures including the prosecution of unrepentant Gukurahundi perpetrators."

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