By Chido Makunike
JONATHAN Moyo’s efforts to rehabilitate and re-invent himself since finding his tenure as President Robert Mugabe’s vicious propagandist untenable just a few months ago are fascinating for
the astonishing levels of cynicism towards the political process the man displays.
Reading his article, “Why Mugabe should go now”, (Zimbabwe Independent, July 15), I found his arguments for why President Mugabe needs to “go now” for the great harm he is doing to the national interest flawless.
Moyo said nothing really new. But what made his article such fascinating reading was the fact that it was written by a man who not so long ago was Mugabe’s staunchest defender. His attempt at re-incarnating himself as a leading light of the anti-Mugabe movement is as bewildering as his recruitment as Mugabe’s chief spokesman after years of being his staunchest critic.
One wonders if, for a man like this, the political process is fundamentally about values and how a society is structured and run for the well-being of its citizens, or if it is merely a cynical game in which the main players need not adhere to any standard of consistency at all.
Does Moyo stand for anything, or is he the contemptible political harlot he would appear to be; excellent at making clever arguments from any angle, but when given the opportunity to live his expressed ideas, able to flop from one position to a diametrically opposed one with no qualms whatsoever?
No one expects that politicians will be any less fallible than the rest of us.
The search for better political organisation in Zimbabwe is not about expecting to be led by saints, but about entrenching a system of running our affairs in which the checks and balances that are necessary to reduce the worst aspects of human nature are respected.
But Moyo’s utter lack of even the minimum standards of consistency in one’s general position on the important issues of how this country should be governed is appalling. The word “hypocrite” does not come anywhere near to doing justice to Moyo’s astonishing flip-flops.
He brilliantly articulates some of the ways in which Mugabe is not just a bungling disaster as president, but threatens the long-term sovereignty of Zimbabwe. But up until he fell out with him just a few months ago, Moyo was ferocious in the service of Mugabe.
Moyo is second only to Mugabe himself in so poisoning the political atmosphere with hate speech, threats and insults that led to the “mutually assured demonisation” (Mad) that he quips characterises relations between Zanu PF and the MDC today.
It was Moyo who revelled in hurling invective on behalf of Mugabe at Zimbabweans who simply dared to differ with their government about how the country is being run. Moyo contributed significantly to the state of affairs in which Zimbabweans exercising that simple and most fundamental of democratic rights were labelled enemies of the state working for foreign powers.
If today Mugabe’s continued tenure in office is “such an excessive burden.a fatal danger to the public interest.that it leaves the nation’s survival at great risk,” why did he work so hard to defend him for five years?
The slide that Zimbabwe is on has been taking place for many years, long before Moyo flip-flopped into Mugabe’s pocket. Is this realisation genuine or is it only because he fell from grace with Mugabe as suddenly as he had come from opposition ranks to become his right hand man?
Is there an essential, real, unshakeable Moyo, and will he please stand up? Or is there behind the clever façade, a prostitute who will sell his services to the highest bidder? Does he have any convictions or does he amazingly twist with the wind, oblivious of how much of a buffoon he appears for being unable to make a stand and stick by it?
All the evidence suggests that Mugabe found an inducement with which to buy the then critical Moyo and when he no longer found him useful to his interests, threw him aside, giving Moyo little option but to resign to try to salvage his dignity.
His bitterness at Mugabe he sucked up to so slavishly for years until a few months ago, probably has more to do with the sting of humiliation he feels at being cast aside so casually after being such a prominent, willing lap dog than at any concern for the parlous state of the nation.
Moyo was happy to belong to the mere “status club” that he says Mugabe’s cabinet has become, no one any longer expecting any dynamism or solutions from them. Moyo was as much an “instrument of patronage” as any of his present ministers and others close to him were.
The fact that Mugabe “is without compassion” has been obvious from the days when thousands of Zimbabweans, including Moyo’s father, if Moyo is to be believed, were wantonly massacred in southern Zimbabwe by state troops. Yet he would appear to only be realising all this now that his official house, cellphone, car and driver have been snatched away from him. What rank hypocrisy and opportunism!
With not the slightest sense of shame, which he shows no sign of possessing anyway, one of the “qualities” that made him such a useful Mugabe lackey, he resorts to the media that he worked so hard to shut down and restrict during his time at Mugabe’s side.
The state media that he so dominated and reshaped in his own bitter, intolerant image is closed off to him, so in his awkward efforts to repair his tattered credibility, he simply goes to that still vibrant media that he worked so hard to kill!
He is now again the champion of arguments against Mugabe’s ruin of this country that he ridiculed and tried to stifle only months ago. If Moyo had had his way during the years that his whole reason for existence was to please Mugabe and throw his weight around as rabid chief propagandist, this paper (Zimbabwe Independent) would not exist today.
Moyo now eloquently recites all the crises that beset this country, but until Mugabe cast him aside he was at the forefront of “there really is no problem in Zimbabwe”.
Moyo’s arguments about the need for Mugabe to go pronto are perfectly valid and well-made. But they are made by the one person in Zimbabwe with the least moral authority to be making them. If Mugabe is an example of the kind of disastrous politician we cannot afford to have in Africa, given all the problems we face, Moyo is not any less so. Moyo is a political mercenary of no apparent convictions. He will say and do whatever he feels benefits him at a particular time, the concept of “principle” being as alien to him as it has become to his erstwhile mentor – Mugabe.
The reasons why Moyo is such an object of public fascination are many and obvious. But that fascination at the more venal characters among us can only help us to move out of the rut we are in to the extent that it shows us how we allowed a class of completely amoral individuals to attain power and push us around.
While we agree Zimbabwe has been brought disgracefully low before the world under Mugabe, Moyo deserves a disproportionate part of the individual blame for his enthusiastic efforts to help him do so.
*Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.