By Gift Phiri
It is often said that President Robert Mugabe hardly forgives nor forgets, but not when it has something to do with Didymus Mutasa — one of his longest serving confidantes who fell out with him after throwing his full weight behind Joice Mujuru, the former vice president who was hounded out of the ruling party on unproven charges of attempting to unseat the Zanu PF leader.
The Daily News can exclusively reveal that Mugabe has been touched by the plight of the former Zanu PF secretary for administration who has admitted to be struggling to make ends meet following his dramatic exit from the ruling party and government about three years ago.
Insiders close to the presidency said Mugabe has never felt as touched after news reached his ears during routine briefings by his officials about Mutasa’s plight.
The Zanu PF leader has since confided in his inner circle to help open the pathway for Mutasa to reach out to him so he could be parachuted out of his desperation.
Zimbabwe’s first black Speaker of the National Assembly, who held many Cabinet posts before he was fired from Zanu PF in 2014, has hit hard times.
He is struggling to send his children to school and servicing huge debts, including $70 000 owed to power utility, Zesa Holdings.
Mutasa, who turns 82 at the end of the month, is also battling to save his top-of-the-range cars from being auctioned over outstanding fees to a local law firm.
Curiously, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), through CMED (Private) Limited — a wholly-owned State enterprise that administers the Transport Purchase Fund on behalf of the Civil Service Commission and Treasury — has tried to prevent the auctioning of Mutasa’s Range Rover sports utility vehicle attached from the embattled former State Security minister’s home, in the up-market Umwinsdale suburb.
The OPC allocated the vehicle to Mutasa in 2013, a year before he was given his marching orders for hobnobbing with Mujuru, the former vice president accused of attempting to unseat Mugabe from power using unconstitutional means.
Mugabe’s office has written to the Sheriff of the High Court advising them that the vehicle could not be attached since it was State property.
Things are so bad for the veteran politician that he has revealed he is beginning to fear that his family could starve unless he gets help somewhere.
Mugabe signalled he wants to help Mutasa this week, but said he must first drink a chill pill.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told one of the State-owned dailies in an unsolicited interview that Mutasa was free to meet Mugabe or rejoin Zanu PF, but should do so openly without tying to put on a brave face.
Charamba also revealed that Mutasa had approached Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeking to make contact with Mugabe, adding that the Zanu PF leader had no hard feelings against him, notwithstanding the political mistakes he might have made.
But Mutasa hit back hard yesterday, setting conditions for talks with Mugabe.
He told the Daily News, in an exclusive interview to be published in full tomorrow, that he wanted a “sorry” from Zanu PF, and that if the ruling party wanted him back, the party’s secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, must write to him first explaining why they expelled him in the first place.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Charamba flagged potential help by the president but scorned at attempts by Mutasa to set pre-conditions for the talks.
“It is not the president who is in the papers asking for an audience navaMutasa, it is Mutasa who has sent an SOS,” Charamba told the Daily News.
“He can’t set preconditions, for what? If he is comfortable where he is and what he is, he can stay there. He should never confuse a response founded on compassion for an invitation to return to Zanu PF. No one is interested in his return.
“He left Zanu PF on his own volition. If he wants to come back, he knows where to begin, he was the administration secretary; he knows the rules. Those rules have not changed, kwete kuti ati westere time (he should waste our time).”
Charamba said Mutasa was wrecking any potential for cooperation by attempting to set conditions for the president that the head of State must first explain his expulsion.
“The party does not owe him an explanation. He is not a member. If anything, he is an opponent. If he wants to remain an opponent, let’s meet on polling day,” Charamba said.
“He has reached his nadir. Who courts a man who is down? This is vainglory. He should stop being vainglorious.
“By the way, the president has helped so many people, some who are not in his party, some still in politics, some dead.
“It’s far from reflecting desperation. The president is large-hearted. Mutasa has been given a lifeline. He is politically inconsiderate.”
Charamba said Mutasa must follow proper channels.
“He chose to communicate through the Press, we responded in kind to the courtesy he denied the president; he should have called the president quietly,” he said.
Mugabe, who at 93 is Africa’s oldest and one of its longest-serving leaders, has previously said that the only person who came close to understanding him in Zanu PF and government was Mutasa.
Other politicians involved in the 70s liberation struggle with Mugabe, such as former vice presidents Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo, have passed on.
“They are gone and those who remain, you look down upon them because they are young.
“They have not had the same experience, the same length of life and, therefore, the same advantage of gathering as much knowledge and experience as yourself,” Mugabe said in his 89th traditional birthday interview.
“And so you can’t discuss with them things that happened in the 1930s or even 1950s. You take my Cabinet as it is: there is no one I can talk to about how we used to approach girls or we would go to this and that place, riding bicycles.
“There are others like Mutasa. He comes close, but others are just children. You feel that loneliness. You have lost others and sometimes you think of it and it makes you very lonely.”
In November last year, Mutasa confirmed phoning Mugabe ostensibly to convey the message that opposition leaders, alarmed by the deteriorating situation in the country, wanted a face-to-face meeting with the nonagenarian.
The former close Mugabe confidante spoke after claims by Mugabe during his address to war collaborators in Harare that his former senior aide had called him on his arrival from a trip to Morocco wanting more than just to check on his health and family. Daily News