A look at Zim’s 2017 po­lit­i­cal whirl­wind

The Manica Post - - Analysis - Free­dom Mu­tanda Post Cor­re­spon­dent

FOR 37 years, Cde Robert Mu­gabe ruled Zim­babwe and the for­mer First Lady, Grace Mu­gabe, told a crowd that he would rule unto the grave and even when he was in­ca­pac­i­tated, he would rule from a wheel­chair. Sadly, just like Tsar Nicholas 2 be­fore him, he never saw the writ­ing on the wall; his po­lit­i­cal demise came in the same month that the for­mer Em­peror of Rus­sia was de­posed from power.

The year started with the grand­mas­ter in Sin­ga­pore and ru­mours swirled about his fail­ing health and he rode the storm as he joked that he had died and res­ur­rected many times be­fore. The me­dia con­tin­ued to men­tion that there were se­ri­ous power strug­gles within the lib­er­a­tion party, ZANU-PF. With each pass­ing day, the de­noue­ment seemed im­mi­nent but the so-called fac­tion lead­ers re­fused out­right that they had vault­ing am­bi­tion to suc­ceed the nona­ge­nar­ian leader.

The for­mer pres­i­dent ejected Cde Pupu­rai Tog­a­repi and in­stead pro­moted the brash Kudzanai Chipanga as the Sec­re­tary for Youth in the Politiburo. Cases of in­dis­ci­pline were raised against a host of ZANU-PF lead­ers and that pit­ted the so-called La­coste and G40 fac­tions PF against each other in Masvingo elec­tions for the ZANU-PF chair and when elec­tion re­sults did not come out the way the Po­lit­i­cal Com­mis­sar wanted, they would or­gan­ise another re-run to thwart demo­cratic pro­cesses. Ezra Chadza­mira never gave up hope and that kept the loyal sup­port­ers in the right frame of mind.

It is a tru­ism that the women and young adults form the ma­jor­ity of the vot­ers in the mod­ern world and Zim­babwe is not an ex­cep­tion. There­fore, the ca­bal which went by the moniker G40 went round the coun­try as the Pres­i­dent led the in­ter­face ral­lies with pro­vin­cial cap­i­tals host­ing those ses­sions in which the youths will talk to the Pres­i­dent. For those with a long mem­ory, they knew some­thing was afoot.

The process of hurl­ing pot­shots at the then Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa had be­gun as Chipanga and Grace Mu­gabe be­came more and more dar­ing. The ca­bal com­man­deered school buses all over the coun­try in an at­tempt to prove to the world that the for­mer pres­i­dent had im­mense sup­port all over the coun­try. One could be forgiven for feel­ing pity for the for­mer pres­i­dent when he thought he had tremen­dous sup­port when in ac­tual fact it was phan­tom power.

In­stead of di­a­logu­ing with the youths, he talked to them in a pro­fes­so­rial man­ner. It is the youths who danced to Jah Prayzah’s “Mud­hara Achauya’’ but were never ac­corded the time to talk to the Pres­i­dent on their wishes and as­pi­ra­tions. He would talk about his jour­ney dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle

In­evitably, he would cast as­per­sions on those he per­ceived to be his would-be suc­ces­sors and be­lit­tle their con­tri­bu­tions to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. Thus, Cde Mnan­gagwa was pre­sented as a “mafik­i­zolo” and one who had to be ca­joled into re­join­ing the armed strug­gle from Zam­bia af­ter he es­caped the hangman’s noose.

Dur­ing one of the ral­lies, one Sarah Ma­hoka had the au­dac­ity to tell the for­mer pres­i­dent that his deputy, Cde Mnan­gagwa, led a fac­tion against the for­mer First Sec­re­tary of ZANU-PF and she was never pub­licly re­buked al­though much later, she was de­moted from her po­si­tion along­side Sandi Moyo, the then deputy sec­re­tary for women af­fairs in the party. For­mer Man­i­ca­land Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Min­is­ter Mandi Chimene lit­er­ally told Cde Mnan­gagwa that he was a suc­ces­sion­ist.

In the in­ter­faces, the for­mer First Lady ha­rangued the then Sec­ond Sec­re­tary of ZANU-PF, Cde Mnan­gagwa, ac­cus­ing him of har­bour­ing pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions. She talked of how peo­ple met at the then Vice Pres­i­dent’s home to strate­gise. Then, out of the blue, she ex­horted the for­mer pres­i­dent to name his suc­ces­sor and she would back that horse.

Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Moyo, in his pre­sen­ta­tion at SAPES Trust de­bates, said Dr Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi, the then De­fence Min­is­ter, was the right man to lead the na­tion as he was more se­nior than any of the cur­rent crop of ZANU-PF lead­ers.

Prophet Bushiri had told Kembo Mo­hadi, the for­mer Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter. that his po­si­tion in Gov­ern­ment and party would rise. Some peo­ple laughed out­right.

Cde Mnan­gagwa re­mained un­moved as the for­mer First Lady went for broke and ac­cused him of many abom­inable things. At one time, she asked rhetor­i­cally, “Who is Mnan­gagwa? He was em­ployed by my hus­band and he is there be­cause of my hus­band. I am the First Lady!’’

Thou­sands of peo­ple ul­u­lated when she be­rated war vet­er­ans and other se­nior Gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees. She chal­lenged the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion. Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices to cover her Ma­zowe ac­tiv­i­ties. In an ef­fort to prove she was the boss, she made Cde Kazembe Kazembe lose his foot­ing at a pub­lic place.

Then came the demon­stra­tions to re­move Ka­sukuwere from his Com­mis­sariat po­si­tion. All over the coun­try, demon­stra­tions were car­ried out with the re­sult that the for­mer pres­i­dent sent an in­ves­ti­gat­ing team to Bin­dura headed by Ad­vo­cate Ja­cob Mu­denda. The re­sults, though made pub­lic, seemed to have been in­con­clu­sive and the G40 ca­bal lived another day.

War vet­er­ans upped the ante; their widely cir­cu­lated com­mu­nique in which they dis­owned Mu­gabe and called for his deputy, Mnan­gagwa, to take the levers of the State, had been widely cir­cu­lated and gained cur­rency in the in­ter­ven­ing weeks. In spite of threats and ac­tual ar­rests, Vic­tor Matemadanda and Dou­glas Mahiya rep­re­sented a new breed of un­wa­ver­ing pa­tri­ots.

Au­gust 12, 2017 de­fined mod­ern day Zim­babwe. The then Vice Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa had to be air­lifted to South Africa af­ter sus­pected food poi­son­ing. He re­cov­ered but the fol­low­ing week, a Cabi­net reshuf­fle oc­curred and min­is­ters like Prisca Mup­fu­mira were cast aside while wet be­hind the ears min­is­ters such as Pa­trick Zhuwao got pow­er­ful min­istries and the Finance Min­is­ter, Pa­trick Chi­na­masa was shunted to the ob­scure Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Min­istry.

Hith­erto, Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Moyo had given a Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion in which he tried to prove that Cde Mnan­gagwa was a suc­ces­sion­ist. The lat­ter made a counter pre­sen­ta­tion and the for­mer pres­i­dent was seized with the mat­ter but he did not make a rul­ing.

The ninth in­ter­face took place in Bu­l­awayo. It came dra­mat­i­cally. As the for­mer First Lady went about her usual hate speech, a sec­tion of the crowd booed her. She got ag­i­tated and like the me­dieval knight in shin­ing ar­mour, her hus­band and the for­mer Pres­i­dent, called out loudly, “ndakatadza here ku ap­point VaM­nan­gagwa Vice Pres­i­dent. Kana ndakatadza, ndi­no­mudon­hedza mang­wana chaiwo. (Did I com­mit a sin by ap­point­ing Mnan­gagwa to be my deputy? If so, I can re­move him to­mor­row at the latest)”

“If you wish to form your party, do so,’’ the for­mer pres­i­dent thun­dered in anger.

Two days later, Cde Mnan­gagwa was dis­missed from Gov­ern­ment and the 10 po­lit­i­cal prov­inces were in “agree­ment’’ that he should be re­placed in the party and the for­mer First Lady must be the new deputy sec­re­tary. It seemed a po­lit­i­cal whirl­wind had taken cen­tre stage. Amaz­ing Grace’s star was surely on the rise.

Purges oc­curred in all prov­inces. Then the Gen­eral struck. On his re­turn from China, in a no-holds-barred press con­fer­ence, the army chief, Gen­eral Con­stantino Gu­vheya Nyikadzino Chi­wenga, told his po­lit­i­cal lead­ers that the army can’t al­low the coun­try to fall into an­ar­chy while it re­mained with its arms akimbo. He dis­par­aged ZANU-PF for al­low­ing the purg­ing of its war time lead­ers and al­low­ing a ca­bal which was bent on loot­ing and more loot­ing. That was on Novem­ber 13.

On Novem­ber 15 2017, the army an­nounced that the for­mer Pres­i­dent and his family were safe but it in­tended to deal with the crim­i­nal el­e­ments around him. From there, the coun­try hur­tled to­wards full democ­racy as ne­go­ti­a­tions for Mu­gabe’s exit went on with Fa­ther Fi­delis Mukonori as the point man.

Then came the hugely pop­u­lar sol­i­dar­ity march; Zim­bab­weans from all walks of life marched to­wards State House. A car­ni­val at­mo­sphere reigned supreme on the streets as they danced to “Ku­tonga Kwaro’’ lyrics.

No blood­shed in the peo­ple’s rev­o­lu­tion. Still, the for­mer Pres­i­dent re­fused to ac­cept re­al­ity that stared him in the face. The Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of his party re­called him from his Gov­ern­ment post and threat­ened to im­peach him if he didn’t com­ply.

ZBC TV said there was go­ing to be an im­por­tant an­nounce­ment which went on to be a damp squib. Zim­bab­weans were fu­ri­ous for in that speech there was no men­tion of his res­ig­na­tion apart from “Asante sana” which piqued Zim­bab­weans said was “an­di­s­aini.’’

In a joint sit­ting of Par­lia­ment dur­ing im­peach­ment, Ja­cob Mu­denda an­nounced the res­ig­na­tion of the for­mer Pres­i­dent. Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans danced in glee. The party ap­pointed Cde Mnan­gagwa to hold forte as the Pres­i­dent un­til elec­tions and he in turn chose Cde Op­pah Muchin­guri as the chair­per­son and af­ter the re­tire­ment of Gen­eral Chi­wenga from the army, the Pres­i­dent chose him to be a Vice Pres­i­dent along­side Cde Kembo Mo­hadi.

In “Op­er­a­tion Re­store Legacy’’ the army is bent on get­ting rid of cor­rup­tion. For a time the mushikashika en­joyed move­ment with­out hav­ing to pay “fines’’. No­tably, is the eco­nomic thrust of the new lean Gov­ern­ment which has hit the ground run­ning. Cit­i­zens look for­ward to a pros­per­ous 2018.

News of Mu­gabe's res­ig­na­tion was greeted with ju­bi­la­tion around the world

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