By Jonathan Moyo
TWO things happened two weeks ago that initially seemed unrelated but later proved to be connected in the broader scheme of things. Firstly, the ruling Zanu PF officially opened its annual c
onference on December 9 at Esigodini, the same day that my name was brought up in Trevor Ncube’s passport seizure saga.
The Zanu PF conference was later to pass a strange resolution to undo changes effected at the government-controlled media when I was still the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of President and Cabinet. Linked to that issue, Zanu PF MP Leo Mugabe appeared in the state media after his party’s conference making unprovoked attacks against me on all sorts of pretexts, including our work in the transport and communications parliamentary portfolio committee.
Stories were run about me in the newspapers where Zanu PF mandarins virtually declared war against journalists working in the state media who stand falsely accused of being my underlings. The authors of those stories did not seek comment from me about the Zanu PF allegations and others fabricated claims which on face value appear isolated but are part of a coordinated campaign of disinformation and scapegoating.
The context of these issues was President Robert Mugabe’s address at the conference where, predictably, he pontificated about events that preceded the Zanu PF congress last year, the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration.
Rather blandly, Mugabe repeated his claims about a Tsholotsho plot that never existed except in the bankrupt imaginations of his hangers-on who went on to grab positions in the party unconstitutionally, crudely using phony allegations of a palace coup plot that was non-existent beyond a democratic and healthy competition for power.
On the same day of Mugabe’s address, Ncube was told that his name was part of a list of 17 people which was compiled by me. Of course, when the Zimbabwe Independent telephoned me to enquire about this issue, I dismissed it as not only false but also preposterous. There has been a chain of lies told about me when I was in and out of government. These range from laws which were allegedly crafted or engineered by me, such as Posa and the NGO Bill, the deportation of the Ugandan fugitive Nyekorach Matsanga, bombing of the Daily News, and a blatantly false story in December last year in the Financial Gazette about my purported resignation from government.
It has now come to my realisation that working in Zanu PF and its government invites such kind of scapegoating which on the surface appears coincidental when in fact it is a systematic campaign to allow the real agents of dictatorship off the hook at the expense of others who might err in the process of trying to deal with genuine national issues as opposed to those who are in the government for personal aggrandisement.
When I looked at the recent seemingly isolated — but clearly connected — events, I was able to situate the scene and plot of this issue where it rightly belongs: in the Zanu PF and state propaganda departments now hostage to securocrats.
If there’s one very dangerous development in Zimbabwe’s body politic today it is that ill-advised policymaking in government and wicked Zanu PF political decisions are being engineered by unaccountable state security agents whose role and influence have now gone beyond their competence and constitutional mandate.
While the roots of this rot are to be found in the notorious 1965 Rhodesian state of emergency which was extended by the Zanu PF regime and continued in force between 1980 and 1990, these episodes follow a new two-pronged strategy hatched by securocrats to deal with the collapse of Zanu PF structures in the 1990s and the rise of the MDC in 2000 underlined by government’s policy failures that have led to the current economic meltdown in the country.
The new strategy calls for:
* state security to purge and take over the running and control of Zanu PF structures, especially in the wake of the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration;
* state security to infiltrate the opposition in order to destroy it from within. The core purpose of this strategy is to enable state security to determine Mugabe’s successor and the manner or process of his succession on behalf of factional interests in Zanu PF.
What is terrifying about this development is that while these security agents invariably act on behalf of factional interests in Zanu PF, neither they nor their faction has been willing to take responsibility for the evil they do.
Consequently, Zimbabweans — including many in Zanu PF itself — are now hostages whose human and constitutional rights are open to abuse.
The fact that the CIO told Ncube that they were impounding his passport on the strength of a list that they alleged I prepared when I was minister clearly demonstrates that those involved in this case knew only too well that it was wrong and illegal for them to seize the passport. It shows the CIO lacks the courage of its convictions.
But still the CIO wants to become involved in the whole spectrum of national life, both public and private. As a result, Zimbabweans must brace up for all manner of illegalities to be visited upon them by the CIO. But as citizens we must defend our rights to the end.
While having the CIO using an individual like myself as a scapegoat might appear to be of no national significance, allowing them to get used to such conduct can have disastrous consequences on the conduct of state affairs as our recent history shows.
In May the same security agents conjured up a self-indulgent claim that some Ukrainian-style “Orange Revolution” was under way in Zimbabwe and connived with Mugabe to justify the reprehensible demolition blitz, Operation Murambatsvina, which destroyed the homes and livelihoods of 18% of our population.
When I was in government it was routine for these CIO agents and their factional counterparts in government and Zanu PF politicians to abuse me as a scapegoat for anything they were unable to explain or defend. That’s why for example, even though the fact is that John Nkomo steered Posa through parliament, the propaganda to this day is that it was my brainchild.
The same goes for the NGO Bill drafted and steered through parliament by Paul Mangwana. The talk is that I came up with that ill-fated Bill.
Also conveniently ignored is the fact that the version of Aippa that was passed by parliament without any opposition from the MDC was drafted by Patrick Chinamasa in consultation with Welshman Ncube after the Parliamentary Legal Committee threw out the original version.
The list is very long and includes absurd claims, conveniently fuelled and peddled by the same securocrats that I bombed the Daily News as if I was in any way in charge of the CIO, ZRP or the army who should know better.
One particularly annoying case where I was abused as a convenient scapegoat when Nicholas Goche, then Minister for State Security, played a major role was the Matsanga deportation story.
Apart from abusing me as a scapegoat to justify their illegal actions, the CIO agents and Zanu PF politicians have also invented ludicrous stories about me. In one case, they invented a son for me from Kadoma and gave him money to regularly visit CIO offices over a long period before finally giving him money to go and look for me in Tsholotsho.
Another invention was made last December in the aftermath of the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration when I was on holiday with my family in Kenya. The CIO, working with George Charamba, planted a deliberately false story in the Financial Gazette claiming that I had resigned from government after tendering my resignation letter to Joice Mujuru who was acting president at the time.
But I confirmed earlier this year that Charamba had directly given the false story of my alleged resignation to the Fingaz after the newspaper’s editor, Sunsleey Chamunorwa, told a high-ranking public figure over his speaker phone in my presence (without Chamunorwa’s knowledge) that indeed Mugabe’s spokesman was the source of the story.
At the time, the Mujuru faction in Zanu PF was desperate to force me out of cabinet and Charamba — eager to pander to the whims of that camp — was also desperate to prove he had nothing to do with the Tsholotsho saga. Yet it is common cause among those who know what happened that Charamba, Mugabe’s press secretary, actually drafted Emmerson Mnangagwa’s speech that was delivered by Chinamasa at Dinyane School on November 18, 2004. I still have the original copy of Charamba’s draft speech with his handwritten cover note attached!
Scapegoating and blaming everybody else but themselves is Zanu PF’s stock-in-trade and no wonder they take no responsibility for their current failures. After me, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is next in line!
* Professor Jonathan Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho.