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Moyo: be a bootlicker and survive

By Chido Makunike

THE recent Zanu PF congress was a fascinating show, an interesting temporary diversion from the miseries the party and its leader President Robert Mugabe have caused Zi

mbabwe in their many years of misrule. I marvelled at the many elements of farce in the whole circus.

A few provinces nominated a vice-presidential candidate other than Joyce Mujuru, but not enough to stop her bid. Instead of this being taken as a healthy sign of democracy within the party, Mugabe showed his true colours by fuming against those who defied his edict to vote for Mujuru.

It wasn’t enough that his aim to handpick Mujuru had been dutifully and obediently heeded by most of the provinces. No, instead of being content with that aim having been achieved, he came down hard on those who dared to think differently from him!

It was more blatantly in evidence this time that although Zanu PF is called a political party, for all intents and purposes, it is a one-man show. A semblance of democracy is allowed at inconsequential levels, but at the top levels Mugabe dominates completely.

In the widespread celebrations of the deeply disliked Jonathan Moyo’s being dressed down so publicly and humiliatingly by Mugabe, the many incongruities of his alleged crime have been ignored. Whether Moyo’s humiliation by Mugabe represents the end of the road for him politically or not, it is amazing that the man who has come to be the face of the word “mafikizolo” rode so high so quickly in Zanu PF.

It is a sign of how much influence he had come to wield in the party that all kinds of heavyweights felt they could not afford to miss mafikizolo’s Tsholotsho “bash” at which it is suspected that strategy to take over the party was to be plotted.

There is something hypocritical about Mugabe’s rage at Moyo’s reckless power-grabbing antics. Moyo as a power broker in Zanu PF and nemesis of the media and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe is entirely Mugabe’s creation.

Mugabe has silently watched as Moyo has dominated public space in Zimbabwe in ruthless defence of his regime, but with the same stroke, destroyed political and media careers. Zimbabwe has become a much harsher and far more repressive place in recent years directly as a result of Mugabe’s allowing Moyo to get away with riding so roughshod over any dissenting views, even within Zanu PF.

When voices within the party began to join the rest of the country in protesting the immesurable harm mafikizolo Moyo has done to Zimbabwe’s international standing and to freedom of thought and expression within the country, Mugabe pretended not to hear. How utterly cynical that Mugabe has not reined in the personally troubled Moyo for all the damage he has caused Zimbabwe, as well as entrenching Mugabe’s reputation as a despot even as he defended him mightily.

No, what finally made umdala Mugabe see the dangers of the monster he had created was mafikizolo’s virtually creating a parallel Zanu PF to the official one in Tsholotsho! That is what finally enraged Mugabe and made him scramble to action in his panic, not the several years of damage Moyo has caused the country and the party!

But Moyo my man, even if you were assured of the emperor’s complete support in all the havoc you caused, surely something should have warned you to exercise some self-control instead of earning the bitter enmity of so many people in the land, some of them as ruthless as yourself and your now disgruntled master. Oh well, if you are really being ditched, you are just one among many business types, ministers, journalists and others who have been given a little power and prominence as long as you were useful, only to be spat out like chewing gum when you had outlived your usefulness.

But this is not necessarily the end of the road for Moyo. He has skills that Mugabe finds very useful, and now that he has been dressed down and made a little less arrogant, he could actually be more pliable in Mugabe’s hands.

Just as he joined the Mugabe camp he was so critical of the incumbent for so many years previously because many wolves were circling in on him, Moyo might find that swallowing his pride and accepting any position Mugabe allows him to retain might still be the safest place to be, given all the enemies he caused himself when he bestrode the public space like a colossus. Mugabe in turn would still have access to Moyo’s deep anger and complexes, his industriousness and drive, but this time much less arrogant and more under his control, which is just the way Mugabe likes his minions!

Moyo, if Mugabe makes you chief toilet cleaner or asks you to literally lick his boots every morning, not just figuratively, take the position! You will be safer remaining under his skirts than walking around the streets of Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare or even South Africa, the UK or US without Mugabe’s protection — that’s how widely despised you are!

Look here Moyo my man, you played this game extra viciously and now you must figure out how to survive politically and otherwise. On your behalf I ask your many enemies to have the kind of mercy on you that you did not grant anyone who stood in your way. I shudder to think what would become of you without Mugabe’s protection and without control of the public media to demonise and cut down your detractors!

Many rungs below Moyo in terms of craftiness, Philip Chiyangwa’s side-lining inexorably continues. A rather questionable Harare “playa” and man-about-town who also wriggled his way to the top of the ruling party in record time by means many consider dubious, his star has been fading significantly all of this year. He hung on to a position on the party’s central committee by virtue of his still being a provincial chairman, but there is no telling how long he will manage to hold on to that position given the increasingly evident dissension against him in Mashonaland West.

It is interesting how all the hip “playas” are instead being “played” by the more wily Mugabe!

Predictably the official lionisation of Mujuru has begun, with even those who were opposed to her being made vice-president gushing about her special suitability for the post she has assumed. But is this the victory for women’s empowerment that it is claimed, or is she merely a safe and convenient pawn in the complicated “machinations” to thwart the feared and unpopular Emmerson Mnangagwa from succeeding Mugabe?

It was an interesting sideshow that revealed a lot of sad and unintended truths about the state of Zimbabwe. It graphically showed how we are ruled by a coterie of corrupt, vicious, power-drunk barons who are completely divorced from the increasingly desperate daily struggles of the subjects they lord it over.

*Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.

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