Moyo: the ‘messiah’ and ‘devil’ in one

By Hudson Taivo

FORMER Information minister Jonathan Moyo’s decision to stand as an independent candidate in the Tsholotsho constituency in next month’s parliamentary election and his subsequent

expulsion from President Robert Mugabe’s government invoke mixed feelings.

On the one hand, one cannot help but admire the man’s courageous stance in the face of persecution and vilification from the party he worked for so hard.

If Moyo had been in Zanu PF just for the money, the farms and the power, he could have chosen to lie low and benefit from President Mugabe’s benevolence by being elected a non-constituent MP or as a diplomat elsewhere. Mugabe is well-known for rewarding loyal members of the party.

Witness Mangwende has been in and out of government for many years,

but he is known more for his lack of wit than for doing any commendable job for the country.

If Moyo had only concentrated on attacking British premier Tony Blair and US president George Bush and showing his loyalty to Mugabe, he would have been assured of a long stay in Zanu PF, and it did not need a rocket scientist to figure this out. Joyce Mujuru is now vice-president, not because she is the most brilliant woman in Zanu PF, but because she was the most loyal and never dared question the old man.

For the past few years, Moyo had become the face of Zanu PF itself. There were times when he hogged the limelight more than Mugabe himself — for example, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in 2002.

His changes to media operations in Zimbabwe and the way he reduced national radio and television to a laughing stock in the region are well known. No other minister in recent history has directly affected ordinary people’s lives as did Moyo.

Without Moyo’s role in Zanu PF’s campaign for the 2000 and 2002 elections, it is difficult to imagine whether the ruling party would have won as it did. It is now too easy for the Zanu PF old guard to claim that they could have done without Moyo because “Zanu PF has always won elections since 1980”, but the truth is that the pre-2000 elections were completely different.

Moyo’s brand of propaganda and indoctrination could only be compared to that of Adolf Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. Who can ever forget the Sendekera mwana wevhu jingles on television and radio, and the nauseating full-page adverts in the national press?

He was the only minister who wrote articles in the newspapers, and it is no wonder that the Sunday News carried his response to his sacking verbatim.

He provided good quotes for journalists and media enthusiasts. Those who of us who could not match him at his word play simply decided to shut up or leave the country.

But after realising that he was no longer needed in Zanu PF, Moyo simply decided to stand as an independent. Mugabe made a fool of himself by firing Moyo, because Moyo had already shown him that he did not care.

I do not subscribe to the theory that Moyo was in Zanu PF so as to destroy it from within. I believe Moyo firmly believed in every action he took, and every word he uttered during his years in Zanu PF. He was committed to a better Zimbabwe, but perhaps in ways that were not always agreed by Zimbabweans not aligned to Zanu PF.

It was good while he ridiculed opposition members and the independent press. He thought, and perhaps with some justification, that the opposition had been buried and was not as formidable as it was in 2000. That is when he decided to better his political fortunes in Zanu PF, and when he started defying senior members of the party and Mugabe, his fortunes began to decline.

But because Moyo is a man of principle, he could not allow himself to lie low like the Chikowores or the Dabengwas. He wanted to be his own man, and he showed Mugabe that he owed him nothing.

He has also exposed Zanu PF’s brand of democracy as hollow and shallow, and the ruling party will not find another man like Moyo. Someone with the courage to stand for principles and defy Mugabe is surely a man worth admiring.

Honestly, there is nothing so fashionable about being an MP for Tsholotsho. Moyo could have fared better as a professor of political science at Wits University, and even if he doesn’t win Tsholotsho, he has a profession to go to.

He only wanted to show Mugabe that old age is catching up with him, and he has managed to humiliate the president and the rest of the old regime in style. But he did this at great personal risk, because Zanu PF shows no mercy for those who dare embarrass the leader. If he survives, he is surely indoda sibili (a real man).

On the other hand, however, it is difficult to admire Moyo’s triumphs considering that he brought suffering to the majority of the population. That Zimbabwe is now regarded among “outposts of tyranny” was largely because of Moyo’s repressive media laws that were endorsed by Mugabe and the Zanu PF government.

While his tactics ensured a Zanu PF election victory, they brought suffering to most people in Zimbabwe. Moyo’s bully-boy tactics ensured that no dissenting voices were heard on national radio, and he closed the independent Daily News because it was getting in his way.

A good number of people who left the country did so because they could no longer enjoy any freedom in their own country. There is nothing as insulting as being given endless lectures on sovereignty and nationalism on radio when all you want is to listen to good music. ZTV is now dull and boring, but Moyo had access to satellite television at his house.

He now wants to gain sympathy from Zimbabwe’s forgiving people as a victim of a ruthless party, yet yesteryear he was the personification of the same evil.

Moyo has taken Mugabe for a ride, and enjoyed the benefits of being a government minister while the majority of us suffered. He now wants to be identified with those fighting against oppression, but he used to think anyone castigating Mugabe or Zanu PF did not have a mind of his own.

My wish is for both Moyo and Zanu PF to perish in hell, and leave the genuine suffering Zimbabweans to enjoy fruits of the liberation struggle.

Those of us living far from home feel the pain most, because we have been forced away from our families by a ruthless regime.

Now the person responsible continues to experiment with our feelings, and hopes we will forget soon. We hope nature will treat these turncoats and political opportunists fairly.

*Hudson Taivo is a freelance writer based in the United Kingdom.