Mutsvangwa, Case Of Principle Or Arrogance?

By Sij Ncube

Harare, March 07, 2016 – EMBATTLED Zanu PF politician Christopher Mutsvangwa is latest among a growing list of party loyalists to take the inglorious walk of shame after he was Friday sent packing as War Veterans Minister by an unforgiving President Robert Mugabe.

As is already public knowledge, Mugabe immediately elevated the Norton legislator’s deputy, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube to being substantive minister at a hastily arranged swearing in ceremony at State House on Saturday.

The event came in a space of 48 hours since Mutsvangwa got suspended for three years from Zanu PF, something Mugabe followed up with his dismissal.

But true to his firebrand nature, Mutsvangwa left his perceived arrogance beyond doubt when he dismissed his then pending ouster from cabinet with a defiant “I don’t care”.

In comments which rank as a clear defiance to the long-serving Zimbabwean leader, Mutsvangwa disclosed he actually asked Mugabe to fire him.

He reminded his 92 year-old boss he voluntarily re-joined Zanu PF in 2000 to help “confront the menacing threat of nascent MDC”.

“I neither care for the politburo post nor indeed for the ministerial appointment.

“So Norton constituency, yes, war veterans’ chairmanship, yes; politburo and cabinet appointments – I don’t really care.

“In fact, two days ago I asked His Excellency for the honour of dismissing me because I only came in to save the revolutionary ethos and not to be served,” charged Mutsvangwa.

He further claimed Mugabe was now beholden to a “vapid and vacuous Gang of Four” that are “clutching on the robes of Jiang and Mao era Gang of Four Lunacy”.

Mutsvangwa could never have done more to invite a Mugabe backlash.

Certainly least among those you could slam and embarrass so publicly, Mugabe moved with speed to jettison the garrulous war veterans chief.

But as he embarks on the walk of shame which he tries to camouflage with an air of bravado, Mutsvangwa could probably be first among Mugabe cabinet appointees to have brazenly thumped their nose at what observers say is Zimbabwe’s perceived Alpha and Omega of politics.

“I think Mutsvangwa wrote his political obituary. I don’t think he is likely to rebound into Zanu PF very soon,” said Reward Mushayabasa, a political analyst based in the United Kingdom.

“There won’t be any ‘Lazarus moment’ for him.”

Mushayabasa said Mutsvangwa’s fate serves to show how the system of patronage works in Zanu PF.

“When they needed him they used him as a one of their ‘useful idiots’ to spew propaganda at ZBC. This was in spite of the maladroit that took place at ZBC during his time. Everyone in Zanu PF took a blind eye as long as Mutsvangwa toed the party line.

“In fact, the man was later rewarded and offered a diplomatic posting to China. In brief, I think the lessons we draw from Mutsvangwa’s misfortunes is that Zanu PF will use you while they still find it useful,” he said.

Alex Magaisa, a constitutional lawyer and political analyst, chipped in, saying Mugabe was a master at keeping his opponents in the dark, never revealing his plans and making them suffer by creating uncertainty and insecurity.

“Mugabe’s preferred method of political death is strangling – he administers a slow, excruciating and painful political persecution,” says Magaisa.

“He will leave you to stew, even sometimes giving you the impression that you are forgiven, only to strike while you are little prepared.

“(But) the writing on the wall for Mutsvangwa was evident at the December conference and although Mugabe raised some criticism, he did not act.

“Then when (George) Charamba (Mugabe spokesman) appeared to speak on behalf of Mugabe in early 2016, Mutsvangwa became naughty, believing he could recover lost ground and go for the kill. That too proved to be a deception, as Mugabe simply drew him in.

“He became reckless, very reckless and was left exposed. Yet again he had played the deceptive card well, dangling the prospects of gain, when in fact his intention was to strike.

“The real target of Mutsvangwa’s purge is ofcourse (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa and his faction whose confidence and expectation had become a threat.”                 

The embattled war veterans’ leader was at the fore-front of hounding former vice president Joice Mujuru in 2014, calling her all manner of names.

Mutsvangwa, in one of his diatribes against Mujuru, tried to rewrite one of the Second Chimurenga’s most elating heroics which say the now Zimbabwe People First leader once downed a Rhodesian helicopter with a gun.

Mujuru could however draw solace in that she was not the only target of Mutsvangwa blistering attacks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his permanent secretary Joey Bimha have also taken a tongue lashing from the fiery politician for alleged discrimination.

Mutsvangwa was then Mumbengegwi’s deputy, accusing him of personalising the powerful portfolio.

But some say Mutsvangwa’s latest outbursts are more of blend of sour grapes and some signs of bravery.

 

“It’s also shows he still has some backing of his war veterans’ constituency. Mugabe should expect more of these remarks from his people as he continuously lose control of the party and the G40 controls him,” said Maxwell Saungweme, a development analyst closely following political developments in Zanu PF.