Former Zanu-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa was an agent of the colonial British South Africa Police (BSAP) Special Branch, it has emerged.
Disclosing details of Mutasa’s links with the Rhodesian establishment for the first time, sources said his allegiances were discovered during the transition from the Ian Smith regime to majority rule in 1980.
The sources said old records listed him as “a top BSAP agent”, and this information has been corroborated by war veterans who have known Mutasa prior to independence.
The BSAP Special Branch was the principal internal security agency of the Rhodesian regime during Ian Smith’s era.
It developed the dreaded Selous Scouts, which was an undercover battalion that murdered and tortured liberation fighters.
Sources said Mutasa could be described – in intelligence parlance – as a long-term sleeper, meaning he was deployed to destroy the liberation movement from within.
The allegations, along with accounts from veterans of the liberation struggle, expose the lie in claims in the private media in recent days that Mutasa was a “pioneer” of the Second Chimurenga, as he was averse to the taking up of arms and held a “Utopian belief that the settler regime could be educated into regarding blacks as equals”.
A source said: “This is confidential information that we have been holding onto for a long time. I am telling you for the first time that Didymus Mutasa was an agent of the BSAP Special Branch.
“I was one of the pioneer officers of the intelligence department and we had records of the BSAP when the security sector was being reconstructed. These records showed that Mutasa was their top agent.
“He is a long-term sleeper. These are people sent to work with the enemy and appear to be one with the enemy, but can be called to carry out specific tasks to destroy the same enemy. This is exactly what he was.”
Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa also said records showed Mutasa’s strong links with the Rhodesian establishment.
“That information holds water if you trace his path in the struggle. He calls himself a cadre and a pioneer of the struggle, but it is all a lie. He was never a member of Zanu before 1977 and neither was he a member of Zapu. His only claim to fame was the non-governmental organisation called Cold Comfort. This was not a party programme, but his own initiative with Guy Clutton-Brock.”
He continued: “One telling fact which shows that he was a sell-out is that when he left the country in 1972, he was escorted by Rhodesia forces. They helped him board the plane that took him to London. This is very significant because real cadres such as President Mugabe had to sneak out of the country as opposed to being escorted. How on earth do you escort your enemy to go out of the country?”
Mutasa – said Ambassador Mutsvangwa – was in the United Kingdom from 1972 to 1977, and only joined the Zanu leadership because of his closeness to national hero Cde Edgar Tekere, a boyhood friend.
He said President Mugabe knew of Mutasa’s BSAP links, but appointed him to key party and Government positions as part of his renowned statecraft and political acumen.
“Edgar Tekere was the (Zanu) secretary-general … So, he had influence and he chose Didymus Mutasa to be one of the leaders of the party. He chose him because the two were home-boys. Tekere considered Mutasa his friend from the days when they were herding cattle together…
“President Mugabe is an astute leader … (and) he would rather prefer a situation where Mutasa shoots himself in the foot. As fate has proven, Mutasa wasted himself away.”
Prior to last year’s Zanu-PF National Congress – which kicked out Mutasa and other conspirators – Ambassador Mutsvangwa spoke of how the former ruling party senior official was actively involved in using “homeboy politics” to get Cde Tekere and Dr Simba Makoni to fruitlessly rebel against President Mugabe’s popular leadership.
Politburo member and war veteran Cde George Rutanhire said Mutasa joined the liberation struggle “at the tail” and was not even in the picture at the Mgagao Declaration that ushered in President Mugabe’s leadership.
“He was not there probably until 1977. He is one of those who supported the struggle in exile but did not know how it felt to be in the liberation struggle. That’s why he is doing what he is doing. He is among other technocrats like Simba Makoni who were in London while we were fighting the colonial regime.
“That’s why it is easy for him to sell out. Honestly, he does not know the pain of staying in the bush and seeing comrades dying…
“I know they look down on us but we are proud fighters of the liberation struggle. It was not easy. That’s why it’s not easy for some of us to betray the revolution. It’s easy for them to do that because they were invited when we had long done all the groundwork for victory.”
In his autobiography, which is tellingly titled “Rhodesian Black Behind Bars”, published in 1974, Mutasa is at pains to explain the actual role he played in the liberation struggle.
He only makes reference to Cold Comfort Farm, which was run as a co-operative.
The book is silent on him planning combat strategies or being involved in the important stages of the war, even though the Second Chimurenga was nearly a decade-old.
Several pages in the book speak about his time in the United Kingdom where he was exiled as the liberation struggle raged back home.
The back cover review describes Mutasa as “a responsible citizen with moderate views on the development of his country”.
A senior military officer – who preferred anonymity – said this was true to his position of approaching the white settler regime passively.
“The title of the book itself tells you something; no one who waged the war against the settlers called themselves a ‘Rhodesian black’. We called ourselves Zimbabweans. This just goes to show his disposition towards the regime and how he considered himself Rhodesian first.”