ZANU PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere is a recent surprise inclusion onto an ever-growing list of alleged coup plotters against President Robert Mugabe.
But luckily, the bully and burly politician belongs to a special group of such conspirators which also includes former vice president Joice Mujuru (now opposition NPP leader), former security minister Nicholas Goche and current vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Going by Mugabe’s often ruthless crackdown on those challenging his rule, it remains more than a surprise that this special lot has been spared the trouble of being arrested, tortured and tried, among some of the horrendous ordeals visited on the less fortunate ones by a brutal regime.
The unlucky group comprises former VP Joshua Nkomo and former Zanu Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole in the 1980s and 1990s. The two late nationalists were harangued on different occasions for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also faced treason charges and has endured a lengthy treason trial which ended with his acquittal in 2004. He had been accused of hiring a Canadian based consultant Ari Ben-Menashe to kill Mugabe 2001.
The list of less fortunate coup plotters extends to the late Zipra commander Lookout Masuku, then Zipra intelligence chief Dumiso Dabengwa back in the 1980s. Both still endured incarceration for an offence which they had been acquitted of. Masuku later died of an ailment that was linked to his ordeal.
Opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Dumiso Dabengwa
Current security minister and another ex-Zapu stalwart Kembo Mohadi also had his own agonising moments in the hands of Mugabe’s brutal machinery back in the 1980s for offences no different from those of his erstwhile comrades.
Zapu properties were, similarly, also seized by Mugabe’s government after arms were allegedly discovered again accompanied by the same narrative of attempting to overthrow the Zimbabwean strongman.
Years later, Mugabe would go after Tsvangirai’s aides, Roy Bennett and Ian Makone accusing them of caching weapons to dethrone him.
While allegations of treason have been a prominent feature in Zimbabwe’s political folklore, it is how the Zimbabwean leader has dealt with the cases that has raised many eyebrows.
Mujuru in 2014 lost her job as Mugabe’s deputy with the veteran leader accusing her of hiring Nigerian sorcerers to bewitch him.
Despite costing her her lofty job, the crime was however not enough to earn her the hell that Nkomo, Sithole, Tsvangirai and many others went through.
In 2004, Mugabe choked an alleged coup plot by Mnangagwa who allegedly tried to use party provincial chairpersons to stage the failed putsch, inviting summary suspensions on seven chairs by an angry Mugabe.
Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa
None was arrested while Mnangagwa was spared the punitive acts for him to return and be the centre of another alleged coup plot, this time involving army officers led by one Albert Matapo who later served a seven-year prison term for the offence.
Mnangagwa’s name is back again in another alleged coup episode which the First Lady Grace Mugabe has wailed about during her rallies.
To make his crime even worse, Grace has linked the embattled VP to an alleged plot to kill the first family’s youngest son, Bellarmine Chatunga. That has also not been enough to earn him a single night in a police cell.
Meanwhile, Mugabe’s government has found everything treasonous about Kariba based pastor Patrick Mugadza who has had to spend weeks in remand prison for allegedly prophesying the 93-year-old leader’s imminent death.
Dabengwa, in a weekend interview with NewZimbabwe.com, said Mugabe was only targeting rivals distant from his party for unfounded treason charges.
“We get surprised when Mugabe singles out his rivals to press treason charges against them,” Dabengwa said, adding that the charges had been hollow.
“I don’t know whether there has ever been any genuine case of treason in Zimbabwe since we got our independence. I don’t know if there has ever been anybody who has even planned a coup.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu also described Mugabe as paranoid.
“Mugabe is paranoid and he is obsessed with power retention. Anyone who challenges his hold on power is quickly branded a traitor,” Gutu said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not picking calls while Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo conveniently dodged the question on why Mugabe has treated alleged coup plotters differently.
“What do you want me to say; I am not the spokesperson of the President,” Moyo said after pausing for a bit.
Pressed to give his response from his Zanu PF standpoint, Moyo said, “I have no comment”.