It’s so cold outside Mugabe’s protection

This question must have occupied the minds of the late vice presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika, and John Nkomo.

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Mutumwa Mawere
Mutumwa Mawere

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They all died hoping to assume the top position.

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When former vice president Joice Mujuru was elected as second secretary of Zanu PF, she also must have expected that she was a heartbeat from the throne.

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Anyone who doubted that the ruling party had no succession plan, could not justifiably conclude that the appointment of Mujuru as President Robert Mugabe’s deputy had no succession implications.

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Even Mujuru must have interpreted her elevation as an endorsement by Mugabe as a viable successor.

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With the elevation of Simon Khaya-Moyo as the chairperson of the party, it was rational to conclude that Mugabe would be relieved of the day-to-day running of the government by the two.

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With Mujuru, SK Moyo, and Didymus Mutasa occupying senior positions in the party and government, no one could have anticipated the “tsunami” that occurred prior to and at the 6th Congress of Zanu PF.

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When the “tsunami” struck former ministers such as the late Maurice Nyagumbo, Dzingai Mutumbuka, Frederick Shava, Enos Nkala and others in the 1980s, the response by Nyagumbo was not dissimilar to Mutasa’s response.

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Initially, Nyagumbo thought Mugabe would come to his rescue as he considered the alleged crime to be frivolous.

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But alas, Mugabe did not intervene to save his fellow comrades.

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Nyagumbo’s world ended in pieces as is now being predicted by Saviour Kasukuwere who recently had this to say about the fate of intransigent Mutasa: “I would have loved to say to Mutasa retire in peace not in pieces. I think he will retire in pieces.”

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To his last day Nyagumbo, like Mutasa, had the residual hope that Mugabe would intervene to rescue him from a nightmare that he did not see coming.

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I am sure Nyagumbo, together with his colleagues, naturally felt betrayed by Mugabe.

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However, if one were to enter Mugabe’s state of mind, there can be no doubt that he was at peace that justice had been served by removing Nyagumbo and his colleagues from the bus.

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Zanu PF moved on and prior to that Edgar Tekere also must have felt betrayed when he was moved from the cockpit and outside the bus.

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The post-colonial history of Zanu PF has seen many causalities including Margaret Dongo and many others.

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When misfortune visited the likes of Chris Kuruneri, James Makamba, Phillip Chiyangwa and others operating in the Zanu PF world, it was easy to reduce the problem to Mugabe versus this person or another.

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Then came the Tsholotsho debacle, once again it was the generally accepted view that the late General Mujuru had played a hand in the elevation of his wife with the support of the First Family.

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Emmerson Mnangagwa’s humiliation was no different to the humiliation that visited the late Herbert Ushewokunze and Eddison Zvobgo when they were demoted.

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What was different, however, is that the Tsholotsho affair produced many other victims but the precise role of Mujuru and her colleagues in the project was not known and remains shrouded in mystery.

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The character and personality of post-colonial Zimbabwe and Zanu PF have been inextricably linked with the character and personality of Mugabe.

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In fact, Mugabe’s political hegemony has had the effect of distorting what it means to be a president resulting in many of his competitors trying to emulate his style of leadership.

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Zanu PF’s structure is pyramidal with Mugabe at the apex and although he has had many deputies, it cannot be said that the deputies have not been unaware of the risks of attempting to outshine him.

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The four late VPs had their own political legitimacy unlike SK Moyo and Mujuru who could not claim that they had truly earned their stripes.

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As we approach Mugabe’s 91st birthday, there can be no better opportunity to pause and reflect on his true legacy.

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To the people who have from time to time found themselves outside the bus, Mugabe is the party and the party is Mugabe.

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In Zambia, they used to say: “One Zambia, One Nation, One Nation, One Leader, One Leader, HE Kenneth Kaunda.”

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Some have argued that  Mugabe was anointed to be the life president of Zimbabwe.

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If one accepts this narrative, then it means an election is a necessary evil.

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When Goodwills Masimirembwa was under attack, he was smart enough to gain access to Mugabe to clear himself.

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Even Jonathan Moyo understood that it was cold outside the protection of Mugabe.

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The Tsholotsho crew knew better in terms of responding to the calamity that visited them.  They managed to wriggle their way back into the party but what they learned was that it was important to zip their mouths.

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Zanu PF has only one centre of power.  So when Mutasa remarked that: “I have never contested proper succession,” he seems to be oblivious to this cardinal point.

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Indeed, under the control of Mugabe, succession has never been an issue of dispute.

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Mugabe has succeeded himself since he became the leader of the party and government.

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His position in the party has not been contested by anyone.  However, with respect to the State, his position has been contested.

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With respect to the party, it cannot be said that there has been any occasion including the 6th Congress where the leadership of Zanu PF has been contested.

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On the question of proper succession, it also cannot be said that Mugabe’s deputies were elected with a view to them being possible successors.

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Mugabe has steadfastly refused to name his successor because doing would make him a lame duck operator, a situation that has never happened in his political life at the helm.

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Mutasa further remarked that: “We are contesting the present succession because it is being done illegally, and that is why we are fighting.”

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As if he is blind to the fact that there has never been any succession on the cards in Zanu PF’s calendar.

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Mutasa appears to be suggesting that prior elections of Zanu PF’s top four positions was about succession when no facts exist to confirm this.

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There has never been a legal succession for that matter.

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Mugabe’s deputies were glorified ministers who by design and his modus operandi were never allowed to assume that they could do without Mugabe’s blessing.

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Mutasa holds the view that: “If they had done it properly in terms of Zanu PF’s constitution, I would have no qualms about it.” However, Mutasa knew and ought to have known that Mugabe is and has always been the law in Zanu PF.

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When did the Zanu PF constitution become limiting when Mugabe has been convinced to take a different direction?

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Indeed, the people working on Mutasa’s file know how to handle Mugabe.

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They now know better how to make him angry and more importantly they have acquired the habit of giving him an audience to vent out the transmitted anger.

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It is obvious that Mugabe is manipulated and Mutasa as a former minister of Intelligence in the Office of the President should have known that his long time boss had been captured and now is reading from the script of others.

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The people handling the project know that Mugabe is the Bible, a fountain of wisdom and when he makes up his mind on an issue or a person, then the limitations that any constitution provides are lifted and he then becomes the law.

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Mutasa makes the point that: “You cannot go from one illegality to another. We had an illegal regime yaIan (Ian’s) Smith. We do not want to establish another illegal regime in Zimbabwe.”

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Mutasa should have known that what is illegal to him is perfectly legal to others.

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The only problem for Mutasa is that the barbarians at the gate are the ones who have the privilege of deciding on what is legal and what is not.

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It may very well be the case that to Mutasa and company, the rule of law in Zanu PF will only be restored when the President comes to their personal rescue.

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It is often convenient to read more into the events taking place in Zanu PF when in truth and fact there is no crisis.

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Zanu PF remains under the control of the same person that has shaped its character and personality for a very long time.

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To suggest that the removal of the so-called Mujuru cabal represents any signpost as to whom will takeover is to misunderstand Mugabe’s DNA.

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Even Mutasa appears not to understand his leader.

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The leader believes in the power of the people but his followers believe absolutely in him.

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Rightly or wrongly, they have made Mugabe the busiest 90-year-old for no one can do anything in the party that he has not sanctioned and everything is conceived and executed in his name.

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All the followers in the party who wish to rise up the political food chain have to hide their ambitions and behave like they are allergic to the top post.

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This spells danger when the big man exists so the people are encouraged to fasten their seat-belts because the real turbulence of succession politics will play itself out when only when the leader exits the stage.

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Until then, it is safe to remain a spectator and Mutasa ought to know that no court of law and certainly no institution including Sadc or AU will ever come to his rescue.

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He has been warned that the solution is located in the mind of Mugabe and if Mnangagwa’s explanation as to the reasons why he was the chosen one are anything to go by, Mutasa has to start practicing how to best kneel and accept what he is given rather than talk about constitutionalism in respect to the affairs of a party that is controlled by the man he thought he knew very well.