First there was the all too familiar accusation of a coup attempt – familiar because treason charge is Robert Mugabe’s weapon of choice in neutralising his opponents – and then the witch hunts which left several Zanu (PF) provincial chairpersons nudged out by “vote of no confidence”.
mujuru supportersThe 80s and 90s were about well-orchestrated head-on collisions between ministerial Mercs and army trucks. In the new millennium, the Zanu (PF) method of assassination is rigged intra party elections, where office bearers who we once thought had “won resoundingly” are discarded like nobody had ever heard of them before.
When the heavyweights fell
The most notable heads to roll off the 2014 chopping block were Joice Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche Snr, Sylvester Nguni, Francis Nhema, Ray Kaukonde, Dzikamai Mavhaire, Temba Mliswa and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, for whom the poetic Presidential kiss-off was “you are in the wrong basket.” After the first phase of expulsions, Chris Mutsvangwa, who ironically had been instrumental in Mugabe’s anti Mujuru campaign, was shown the way out, taking with him his Students Companion type jawbreakers, which he now employs to attack Mugabe.
Gumbo courts Joice
Rugare Gumbo – the most vocal defender of Mujuru in the face of Grace Mugabe’s verbal tirades –together with other Zanu (PF) rejects, began to court Mujuru, inviting her to join their group in forming a party. Mujuru kept them waiting, like a coy maiden who toys with her suitor, backing away as he approaches, setting the dog on him, whenever he pelts her bedroom window, intending a moonlit serenade. Jabulani Sibanda – Zanu (PF)’s former bully of the rural electorate – also joined the mission to woo Joice. Mujuru, the alleged shooter of Rhodesian helicopters, gently shot down the advances of Gumbo, Mutasa et al, declaring political neutrality in her now famous sporting metaphor – “I am watching from the terrace”. She even favoured the media with photographs of herself, playing with dirt, in farmerish attire. This was her way of saying “See – I am not involved, I am a fulltime farmer now.”
Mujuru says I do
One morning, in September, we awoke to a sort-of party manifesto by Mujuru, but there was no official party. In a picture which eclipsed Leopold Takawira Street’s ongoing September Jacaranda outbreak, Mujuru, looking all presidential, sat at a desk, with a Zimbabwe flag impaled into the floor behind her. This was Mujuru’s way of lacing up her leather gloves and saying to her old mentor, “put your gloves up.” When the Zanu (PF) propaganda machine lurched into top gear, attacking as it always does, it was clear that Mugabe regarded Mujuru as a credible threat. This was no clean punching Morgan Tsvangirai, whose supporters could easily be intimidated. This was one of their own, who knew all the dirty tricks and seemed to have mass appeal, on the back of her war record and the sympathy of many, following the (evidently) staged house fire in which her much venerated husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, was killed.
Mujuru woos electorate
This year, Mujuru has extended a hand of friendship to her former enemies, the likes of Morgan Tsvangirai, Thokozani Khupe and Welshman Ncube, of the MDC formations. The former rivals congregated in the city of Gweru in a joint rally and when Zanu (PF) had hoped for a catfight, the new allies got on like a house on fire.
Next on Mujuru’s agenda was a trip to South Africa, a country which may as well be declared a constituency come 2018, given the millions of Zimbabweans who live there. Mujuru gave an interview to ANN7, during her visit. After South Africa, Mujuru travelled to the United Kingdom where she made the ostentatious gesture of handing over $1,4 Million to ex Zimbabwean farmer, Guy Watson-Smith, as compensation for the farm, which her late husband had snatched during Mugabe’s savagely executed land reform program.
Mujuru’s spokesman, a man humorously named Jealousy Mawarire, spoke of Zim People First’s love for property rights, as though this is a newfound concept:
“We want to compensate the white former commercial farmers precisely for the reason that we want to provide security of tenure. Right now, the 99-year leases are not transferable. This means in the event that the owner dies, it cannot be passed on to the children.” – Jealousy Mawarire.
This raises the question; where was Joice when Solomon was busy grabbing farms? Did it not occur to her to mention “property rights” to her husband over dinner?
To someone less cynical, the belated compensation may seem a noble gesture but, like the Gukurahundi subject which Mujuru inexpertly evaded in the South Africa interview with ANN7, the unanswered question remained: why now, after all these years?
Will voters forget past injustice?
It is difficult to imagine how Jabulani Sibanda, who habitually intimidates voters, having to go back to the same electorate and try to win them over. Apart from terrorising voters, Sibanda is a confessed racist who says he hates whites. It is impossible to see how he fits into Mujuru’s reconciliation plans.
Another of Mujuru’s key backers, Didymus Mutasa, admits that he was part of Mugabe’s brutal machinery. Can a party comprising former Zanu (PF) looters be trusted to transform Zimbabwe’s puny $4Billion economy to one beyond $1,5Trillion, as they boldly claim?
Mujuru’s doubters vindicated
In February 1980, this is what Rugare Gumbo had to say about Mugabe:
“When he joined the party, he had only a dirty shirt and trousers. Now he has money – a lot of money… He built a fortune on the backs and sweat of people like us. He takes his wife all over Europe and spends thousands. This is the man who wants to make this country Marxist. He must be stopped.” – Rhodesia Herald.
Hold that thought.
Mujuru has doubters who have always wanted to know whether she could offer anything new, after 35 years in a failed government. If the evidence against Zim People First was ever circumstantial, then her key ally, Rugare Gumbo, presented Zimbabweans with irrefutable proof that, at the core, Zim People First remains just another wing of Zanu (PF).
At the wake of the late Cephas Msipa, Gumbo is photographed lined up with other Mugabe sycophants, grinning, as he would have done at those unnecessary parades to meet the President at the airport. After all that has happened between Zim People First and its parent party, even one implanted with the sinless heart of Mother Theresa would not be caught grinning, in the presence of Mugabe. Has Gumbo really gotten over his love for Mugabe?
It cost Mujuru a million pounds to launder her reputation. She has also had to give up her favourite Chanel suits in exchange for the new regalia which is some sort of throwback to her freedom fighter days. She might have gained political mileage in recent months. But after the Stockholm syndrome stricken Gumbo’s reunion with Mugabe, the familiar question will now be asked again; can Zimbabwe People First be trusted?
My pen is capped
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