THE ZANU-PF secretary for administration, who is also Minister of Presidential Affairs, Didymus Mutasa, must be ruing the day he came up with the term “gammatox”. Cunningly coining the mischievous term, at the height of political power in the presence of adoring supporters and praise singers, Mutasa was untouchable only a few months ago.
Riding the wave of power derived from a close and trusted relationship with President Robert Mugabe and solidified by own personal participation in the struggle for Zimbabwe, the former speaker of parliament has all along been considered a political godfather in the province of Manicaland where he hails from. His indomitable status has also been recognised well beyond his provincial fiefdom. “Ndivoka vanga vari magonyeti acho emusangano ana Mutasa ava (the likes of Mutasa have been the bigwigs of the party),” a commentator, Fanuel Chinyandura, remarked.
Never in a million years would he have thought that his political ground, secured and fortified over three decades and counting, would shake; that there would ever be a possibility that he could be separated from the source of power. Oh, how the mighty are falling! Yet today, the strongman stands vulnerable — weakened by calls from no less than youths calling for his ouster, as he is named in a plot to oust the President.
Tables have turned and his shrewd term, gammatox — something that can destroy pests — can be used against him as he gets a taste of his own medicine. The term gammatox, Mutasa uttered in the spur of the moment when his perceived enemies, in the person of Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, among others, had been believed to have been at the receiving end of the President’s tirade earlier in the year against what he called weevils who were destroying the party from within.
Gammatox is a chemical substance known in agricultural circles to destroy weevils — pests — which gnaw away at grain.
In an effort to set himself apart from the fingered wrong doing, Mutasa using this term, had boasted that those destroying the party from within, he could destroy meaning therefore that no plotters could get the better of him. Yet here we are. He has lost an election into the Central Committee and could lose more.
Gammatoxed of political clout and exposed by a growing anti-Mutasa sentiment that is surely gaining in momentum, his political career could be careening towards a screeching halt, or at the very least an abrupt recess. Enveloped in an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust, Mutasa to regain his footing at all, would need to prove, at least morally, to his comrades that indeed he has not been plotting against the President.
Moving in for the kill, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also ZANU-PF secretary for legal affairs and is believed to lead an opposition to Vice President Joice Mujuru’s camp one in which Mutasa is, in a Politburo meeting recently put the Manicaland falling godfather on the spot when he moved the motion that Mutasa defends himself from the allegations of the plot against the President.
Perhaps Mutasa’s undoing could have its genesis in his backing of Vice President Mujuru. Following the condemnation of Mujuru as poising herself to take over from the President before time, all who have been identified to be sympathetic to Mujuru’s alleged attempts to succeed the President, have been “fumigated off” the various rungs of political leadership ladders. As a bona fide promoter and mover of Mujuru’s supposed ambitions, Mutasa’s support for Mujuru has not been exactly secret.
In a meeting soon after the youths conference in August, Mutasa told the President to his face that “Isn’t when you appointed her to the Vice Presidency you said she should aim higher,” in what was widely construed to be an admission to moving that agenda. While most other Mujuru allies have fallen by the wayside, Mutasa whom many think should or would also be kicked to the kerb has not officially been booted off any position. At least not yet.
Caught in a quandary which is proving to be fast diminishing his political standing Mutasa’s future is not looking very bright. In what could be considered bold writing on the wall, the President in a Politburo meeting last week asked Mutasa what he was doing there. As his political future hangs precariously on the thinnest of threads, some analysts believe his possible ouster could be good news for the country.
“Mutasa is a fossil who really should not be near the President’s office,” said political analyst, Vince Musewe. “There is no value he has added over the years except being (President) Mugabe’s praise singer. His removal can only be better for Zimbabwe.”
What makes Mutasa’s case highly ironic is that he has been over the years known as a staunch supporter of thevaMugabe chete-chete brigade — those who have preached the “gospel’ of only President Mugabe as the leader of Zimbabwe. Now for him to be touted as singing an opposite tune, has baffled many.
The most telling allegations against him, as of yet, occurred when a scorned girlfriend told authorities that the beleaguered politician had intimated that if President Mugabe did not relinquish his position to Mujuru, he would be shot. Be that as it may other analysts believe that Mutasa’s praise singing to President Mugabe could yet pay dividends after all is said and done.
“While Mutasa has lost much of his influence in the party, I think his relationship with President Mugabe still holds and after congress he will still be appointed back to Cabinet and most likely back into the Politburo, maybe in a less powerful or senior position,” said Rashweat Mukundu, a political analyst.
Mukundu believes, the whole development including the allegations could be feeding into the President’s Machiavellian handling of party members perceived to be errant. “Let us remember that for President Mugabe it is a balancing act and a divide and rule strategy, so some leaders alleged to belong to Mujuru will still bounce back to counter balance the so called Mnangagwa faction. If he bids his time well Mutasa could still bounce back, though like President Mugabe age is not on his side,” Mukundu said.