2nd Republic Profiles with Ruth Butaumocho and Elita Chikwati
ON January 5, 2017, Cde Energy Mutodi stirred a hornet’s nest when he posted a picture on his Facebook page posing with then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, holding a coffee mug emblazoned with the legend, “I am the Boss”, a gift for the then Vice President.
The picture went viral, courting the ire of members of the G40 cabal, who were rabidly opposed to his ascendancy to Presidency.
Instead of scurrying for cover from brickbats that were being thrown at him, Cde Mutodi fervently defended his decision to align himself with political views and individuals that he strongly believed in.
His obstinacy was soon to open floodgates of persecution from political rivals that included his incarceration at the height of political tyranny that resulted in the resignation of former President Mugabe.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Cde Mutodi, who is now the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, has remained standing despite the political heatwave that claimed several scalps.
“I am a principled man who will not vacillate when I strongly believe in something,” said Cde Mutodi in an interview recently.
Turning to the controversial issue of the mug that drew daggers from the G40 cabal amid allegations of setting up the succession agenda, Cde Mutodi said the mug was the climax of his political activism.
Its (mug) presentation with His Excellency Cde Mnangagwa was a stage to mark the point of no return and to ensure that the then Vice President would take over the reins and be leader of the country.
He said while it was a risky thing to do for the then Vice President and for himself, Cde Mutodi said it was a necessary decision to take because it conscientised the people on the possible replacement for the office of the President in the form of Cde Mnangagwa.
“We demonstrated hard work, loyalty, persistence and determination to work for the country,” he said.
After the picture went viral, a tumultuous season was to follow, which was marked by serious witch-hunt from the G40 members eager to thwart Cde Mnangagwa’s ascendancy.
“It was during that time that I realised that power was not going to be transferred smoothly and in a friendly manner, so I predicted a hostile takeover of power.
“The former President had already indicated that he preferred Sekeramayi (Sydney) as his successor. But then we realised that resistance for a Mnangagwa ascendancy was really as a result of hate and unfair discrimination.
“It would really appear that those ‘unconquerables’ were really entrenched if Cde Mnangagwa was not given a chance,” he said.
For someone who had faced hardships for the better part of his life, Cde Mutodi did not despair when he was chastised and later arrested for a litany of charges among them, allegations of challenging the authority of the former President and causing dissatisfaction among the army.
He knew that it was only the beginning, and he was right.
“My upbringing was so difficult that it prepared me for the hardship I was to endure, that is but not limited to my incarceration while at the helm of the National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) and when I ventured into politics,” he said.
Born on August 4, 1978 in Njaravani Village in Masvingo, Cde Mutodi, who is the third born in a family of five and is the first son in the family of the Gushungo totem, had no other aspirations apart from becoming a teacher.
He did his primary education in Masvingo at Nyahunda and Chedutu primary schools and moved to Tagona Secondary School before proceeding to Mashoko Mission for his Advanced Level studies.
On finishing his Advanced Level studies, Cde Mutodi enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe to read for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography & War Studies and finished it in 2001.
It was at the university that he got into politics.
After completing the degree, he worked at Girls High School as a Geography teacher and also taught at Chikangwe Mission in Karoi before leaving to join the banking sector in 2003.
Deputy Minister Mutodi also enrolled for his Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the UZ and his thesis was entitled: “The effectiveness of Treasury bills in stimulating growth of the Zimbabwean economy”.
In 2003, Cde Mutodi left teaching to join the banking sector. He worked as a bank teller at Trust Bank and rose through the ranks to become a marketing executive.
He left the banking sector in 2005 and the following year joined the insurance sector, working as head of marketing with Regal Insurance in the division of housing.
In 2006, Cde Mutodi became managing director of the NHDT, a position he held until he retired in 2017 to enable him to actively campaign for the Goromonzi West Parliamentary seat.
It was during the time when he was at the helm of the NHDT that he was arrested on allegations of fraud, charges which he said were trumped up by his political rivals.
He said his rivals were left with egg on their faces.
“It was during that time at the NHDT that I realised that ministers were corrupt. They would not do anything unless they knew there was something in for them.
“I ended up scavenging for land, buying it at exorbitant prices and yet the God-given resource was readily available,” he said.
Cde Mutodi later hung his boots in the corporate sector to focus on politics. In 2013, he lost to Ms Beater Nyamupinga, a seat which he was to reclaim in 2018, in a tightly contested election.
He has not only proved to be a capable politician, but Cde Mutodi is also a seasoned musician with several albums to his name.
A seasoned musician, with a coterie of monikers among them, Tatu Muluba, Simbi Yamudhara and Musorowembada, Cde Mutodi said music was a part-time job which earned him several accolades from appreciative fans.
“I got into the music industry when a foreign band approached me to assist in composing some Shona rhumba songs and I agreed,’’ he said.
That decision marked the beginning of his musical career and the production of 16 albums.
Besides his passion in music, Deputy Minister Mutodi is also a writer of A-Level Geography textbooks, namely “A-Level Physical Geography” and “Advanced Human and Economic Geography”.
Following his appointment, Cde Mutodi now wants to work for his people in the Goromonzi West Constituency.
“I now want to work hard for my people. I promise sustainable development in Goromonzi West through upgrading roads and de-congesting schools,” he said.
He complained that most schools in the constituency were heavily congested, while some pupils were walking long distances to school. He promised to build more schools.
“I am also going to start self-help projects such as poultry and market gardening through assisting with inputs,” said Cde Mutodi, who is reading for a Doctoral degree with the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business and doing a thesis on “The impact of multiple currencies on stock market performance in Zimbabwe”.
He is also concurrently reading for a Bachelor of Laws degree with the University of Zimbabwe concurrently.