AS we watched the graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe’s Open University on television, then President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, Chancellor of all the State university, fell asleep while waiting for his moment to speak.
South African comedian Trevor Noah and others in the United States television and print media, feasted at Mugabe’s expense. His insistence on being chancellor of all the 10 State universities is indicative of his insatiable thirst for power.
By wanting to be master of everything he laid his eyes on, insisting on making himself one centre of power, he missed “big time” the developments which finally led to his overthrow.
Mukuru actually missed the train “big time” during the week of July 21, 2016. I was a witness to the watershed event when war veteran representatives and leadership met in Harare to deliberate on the “state of the economy, the ZANU-PF party leadership and the way forward for the people of Zimbabwe”.
Copies of the communiqué were dropped on every chair at Ambassador Hotel, which serves as a hide-out for journalists. This coincided with the rise of Grace, having successfully caused the dismissal of vice president Joice Mujuru. I interviewed the veterans’ leadership and was surprised that 30 years after liberation, many of them were still earning $200 per month. “The party has dismally failed to use the mandate given to it… to address the economic problems that have beset our great nation… since British rule,” the war veterans told me.
Instead of reading the memo, the police were sent to ferret out the author of this document, while completely ignoring the bread and butter issues mentioned therein.
The veterans had descended on Harare from the country’s 10 provinces in a timely manner, stayed in hotels and deliberated on their grievances in a methodical manner, wrote up their communiqué in classical and diplomatic language.
Of the three possible writers who use that style of writing, Chris Mutsvangwa, a certain former Zipra Colonel Nyati, (I am using his Isibongo) and myself, I assume that Brother Chris is the most likely person of interest.
What Mukuru missed was the fact that veterans could not have achieved such a high level of cohesion without military support. The persistence and fearlessness with which Mutsvangwa and Victor Matemadanda pursued the matter for a year after that showed that they were surrogating powerful interests.
This meeting came after the war veterans had tried to meet in Harare and police water cannons were aimed at them by the riot police. That explains why, when the generals met on the fateful night to put in motion their slow coup de-etat, Commissioner Augustine Chihuri was not a participant.
Chihuri also missed the train.
The memo was introduced in the following manner in various newspapers. “Zimbabwe war veterans, who have played a crucial and sometimes violent role, have issued a statement that they would no longer support Mugabe.”
It was the army speaking, STUPID!
They missed this one also.
They missed a third train also. Grace and the “criminal elements” assumed that Kudzi Chipanga and the ZANU-PF youth movement could replace the veterans as a vanguard for the party.
STUPIDO! (Spanish) The veterans were irreplaceable because they had the support of the army.
Mukuru, now 93, forgot that since 2000, he had not won a free and fair election. It was the army and the war veterans who kept him in power.
Americans call the manner in which things look, the OPTICS. The social media, YouTube videos and other non-official communications overwhelmingly went for the kill. US media depicted Grace as drunken with power. Like Salome, King Herod’s wife, having got the head of Joice Mujuru on a platter, she now demanded that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s head be delivered to her before the December conference.
Vitriolic, wearing fancy dresses and hats; she was the perfect subject of bad optics. International media had a feast at her expense. The British Telegraph called her Gucci Grace for her expensive appetite, having spent $ 120 000 in one Paris trip which lasted only a few hours.
In South Africa, her two boys were reported to have an income of $50 000 a month, enjoyed champagne bottles priced at $750 each. The Zimbabwe Independent reported that the Mugabes had imported two Rolls Royce’s into the country through KLM air cargo.
Mukuru had played his tricks too many times before. It was common knowledge that whoever took a public stand in his support was being used, to be discarded at the proper time when it suited him. (Ari kuyuzwa, arikudamejwa). I had personally warned Mutsvangwa not to be used in the expulsion of Mujuru.
Major General Trust Mugoba had been sent on a mission to the United Nations in order to isolate General Constantino Chiwenga. Commissioner Augustine Chihuri’s secret plan to arrest Chiwenga on his return from China was leaked. Chihuri and Chipanga were the last (kuyuzwa) to be used and now they are remorseful.
Soldiers with the rank of Colonel as well as district secret service officers were to submit their qualifications to Grace for review.
Dismissing Mnangagwa, a loyal aide for 40 years, showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that in Mugabe’s universe moral sensibilities were never allowed to inhibit his lust for power. Brother Rabbit had used all his 101 tricks.
(Ken Mufuka’s book, Life and Times of Robert Mugabe, 1980-2017. Dream Betrayed sold out in one week. A second edition is expected in January 2018.)