Bitter Harvest: The Great betrayal and the dreadful aftermath

THIS is the title of the last king of Rhodesia, the late Ian Smith’s autobiography first published in 1997 covering the period during which his government attempted to preserve white minority rule in Rhodesia through political and military means.\r\n\r\nby Mutumwa Mawere\r\nIndeed, I have no doubt that former VP Mujuru & Co, would easily concur with Ian Smith’s construction of a bitter harvest after investing so much of their lives and effort in serving and glorifying a man of flesh and not in building an institution, as they try to explain the reasons why they have been thrown outside the bus they naively thought was a people’s project.\r\n\r\nOne can discern from the bitterness expressed through the words of Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo that they feel that the party has been hijacked and that the problem is located outside the limitations imposed on justice and fairness by heavily relying on a person instead of a party of rules and constitutionalism. Only when dictatorship creeps in would it be possible to manipulate the party’s constitution for personal benefit.\r\n\r\nIt is common cause that Mutasa & Mugabe were close and have been in the same bus for a very long time. Could the tragedy that has visited Mutasa & Co be a tale of friends who find themselves separated by malicious gossip? It is clearly self-evident that even Mutasa and Gumbo, the two who have elected to go down standing up, have no quarrel with Mugabe but with the promoters and implementers of the Mazoe Crush project.\r\n\r\nIt is also significant that Mugabe appears to have no fundamental differences with the accused lot as it is obvious that his state of mind is also trying to come to grips with what he also regards as a “great betrayal” by persons he thought he knew and could vouch on.\r\n\r\nMugabe, as if he were a ‘naked Emperor’, is naturally surprised that Mujuru, Mutasa, Goche and others who were not suspended when the 6th Congress was held, chose voluntarily not to participate yet the narrative of Mujuru & Co suggests the opposite. President Mugabe is and remains oblivious to the machinations that led to the absence of Mujuru & Co at the congress.\r\n\r\nPresident Mugabe was only aware of the expulsion of Gumbo and Jabulani Sibanda from the party as well as the suspensions of some of the Provincial Chairpersons of the party believed to be aligned to the cause of Mujuru to unseat him using unconstitutional means.\r\n\r\nSome have argued that President Mugabe was the author and driving mind of the Mazoe Crush project, yet the facts and circumstances seem to suggest otherwise. If he was the driving mind behind the project, then why would it have been necessary to adopt a vicious attack on persons who idolize and worship his style of leadership?\r\n\r\nThere appears to be no concrete evidence that Mujuru’s alleged followers were organised for action let alone that they had any policy differences with President Mugabe. On the contrary, what is self-evident is that the investment in gossip and propaganda exposes the true agenda of the architects of the project.\r\n\r\nPresident Mugabe genuinely believes that Mujuru & Co failed to garner support from the relevant party structures to remain in the Central Committee and, therefore, to be eligible for appointment by him to the Politburo. He is unaware of the constructive efforts by the coalition of the willing to ensure that the door to the Central Committee was closed which effectively meant that Mujuru & Co would have attended the gathering as ordinary members.\r\n\r\nAgainst this backdrop, one can understand why President Mugabe describes Mutasa as a “stray donkey”, for it does not make any sense for Mutasa to have been part of the preparations of the congress only to cowardly disappear from the harvest. In the case of Mutasa, the irony is that he still remains the representative of the constituency in Parliament that purportedly rejected him from representing it in the Central Committee.\r\n\r\nAlthough Mutasa was an integral part of the preparation of the Congress, President Mugabe is unaware of the role played by his wife in creating the impression that he was tacitly part of the strategy to change the goal posts of the congress. Mutasa naively thought that he was still a trusted friend of the Leader but was unaware that the rules of the game had changed in that the elevation of the First Lady to head the women’s league of the party had effectively catapulted her into the co-pilot seat.\r\n\r\nThe wheels bolted before the congress but evidently President Mugabe appears to be unaware of when and why this happened. It is obvious that President Mugabe expected Mujuru & Co, with the exception of Gumbo & Subanda, to attend the congress. To him it would not have mattered that they had already been thrown out of the bus before the meeting for he still wielded the power to accommodate them in the Politburo.\r\n\r\nIt is not at all clear whether President Mugabe was aware of the climate at the congress, for if he was he would have known that Mujuru & Co were not welcome. The sign posts were there for all to see that Mujuru & Co were not wanted and yet President Mugabe is of the view that their absence was a betrayal of the revolution. Only a political infant would not have known that it would have been act of political suicide for Mujuru & Co to attempt to come to a poisoned congress.\r\n\r\nAccepting that President Mugabe had no constructive knowledge about the modus operandi of the Mazoe Crush project practitioners, it then becomes possible to understand why he is visibly angry at Mujuru & Co especially what he considers Mutasa’s ill-conceived act of invoking President Zuma, SADC and AU involvement in what he regards as an internal party matter.\r\n\r\nHowever, the mere fact that the congress proceeded without Mutasa’s participation means that the expected internal checks and balances in the party were already absent. When Gumbo & Jabulani were unceremoniously thrown out of the bus at the direct instigation of President Mugabe, Mujuru & Co remained silent for they must have thought that what they regarded as “rank madness” would end automatically before the congress.\r\n\r\nAlthough Gumbo has sought to align his cause with Mutasa, it is clear that Mutasa would have had no problem continuing the journey only if President Mugabe had protected him from the political hyenas. Equally, Mujuru, the presumed beneficiary of the alleged putsch, did not see it coming when Sibanda and Gumbo were shown the red card. An allegation was made that the putsch was a consequence of a well-oiled political machine yet when the Chairmen of the party’s provincial structures were given yellow cards, no leadership from Mujuru let alone Mutasa was evident.\r\n\r\nBoth President Mugabe and Mutasa feel betrayed for different reasons. Mutasa never thought that he could be ejected from the party with Mugabe’s complicity. In fact, he considered himself to be what can be described as a “house nigger” for as long as the master of the house was President Mugabe, he was confident that he would not be thrown out to find his way in the wilderness of the plantation where he is now shouting from.\r\n\r\nA house nigger has a peculiar worldview and it was often the case that the Master often got it wrong when he tried to understand the true mind of the house nigger. It was not unusual for a house nigger to believe that he also was a stakeholder in the scheme of things and when it rained, for instance, the house nigger would pray that no storm be part of the rain.\r\n\r\nThe job of a house nigger was to protect the Master from harm.  In the Zanu PF scenario, President Mugabe believed that Mujuru & Co would hand over power during congress but was totally oblivious that the button had already been stolen by plantation niggers who were waiting like political scavengers to displace the house niggers.\r\n\r\nTo cloth what Mutasa and Gumbo now describe as the unconstitutional seizure of power with legitimacy, the plantation niggers knew that they could not succeed without the helping hand of a person closer to the Leader than the house niggers. The only person who qualified was the First Lady hence the use of the word “bedroom coup” by Sibanda. When the First Lady was persuaded to join the bus, there is no evidence that she knew what really was at play.\r\n\r\nEven Mnangagwa could not have done the job and, clearly, the sentiments expressed by President Mugabe after the harvest confirm that he genuinely believes that it was morally and politically naïve for Mujuru & Co to desert the party.\r\n\r\nPresident Mugabe is a firm believer in the power of the people and in this case he believes that the choreographed and manipulated congress was the best ever.  He is comforted in making this conclusion by the fact that the purported successful congress unlike the Youth Congress was executed in the absence of Mujuru & Co.\r\n\r\nPresident Mugabe appears also not to be aware of the humiliation suffered by the people perceived to be aligned to Mujuru at the congress. Even President Mugabe must have known that Mujuru & Mutasa’s absence was viciously induced and facilitated by his own pre-congress attitude.\r\n\r\nHe knew and ought to have known that the organised audiences he was given, not by Mutasa as the Secretary of Administration, were platforms organised to provide useful sign posts that Mr. Gamatox, as even President Mugabe now calls Mutasa, was history.\r\n\r\nMutasa’s relevance to Zanu PF was not buried at congress but well before. The question that would support Mutasa’s contention that he was betrayed is why President Mugabe chose to proceed with the congress without even checking with his friend about the progress of the congress’ preparations.\r\n\r\nSurely, one would rationally argue that President Mugabe knew and ought to have known that, during the 11th hour of the congress preparations, Mutasa’s job had already been stolen by someone. No facts exist or have been revealed that President Mugabe made any attempt to call Mutasa or Mujuru prior to the congress, and certainly when he opened the congress, to find out why they were missing in action.\r\n\r\nWhat is known, however, is that Mugabe only learned of Mutasa’s illness during the course of the congress and, therefore, it is not clear whether Mutasa would have been sick if his Leader had chosen to protect him by making sure that he performed the last rites as expected?\r\n\r\nIt cannot be far-fetched to conclude that the phone call that Mujuru & Co most expected both before and during congress never came yet President Mugabe would want the world to believe that he had no constructive knowledge that the outcome expected from the congress was to exclude the undesirable members from the leadership of the party.\r\n\r\nThe mixed signals that have come from President Mugabe as well as the seemingly hypocritical sentiments that have been expressed by him to the effect that when doors are shut, the victim ought to exhaust non-existent remedies such as internal mechanisms.\r\nLike any organisation, President Mugabe knows and ought to know that once he has spoken, no internal remedies are of any value. Gumbo and Sibanda would have something to say about this because they, unlike Mutasa whose relationship with the party is not yet clarified, know that when the Emperor has spoken, even the chief legal advisors of the party have no advice to give.