A look at Zim’s 2017 political whirlwind
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