By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – A sad Didymus Mutasa, the former Presidential Affairs minister and former close confidante of President Robert Mugabe, has described the nonagenarian as a powerless and isolated man who is now surrounded by deadwood and political charlatans.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, the softly spoken former minister in charge of the country’s spooks and whom Mugabe once fondly referred to as the closest person alive that he could share many experiences with from the past, said he was at a loss as to how he could rescue his once beloved comrade.
Such is the age gap between Mugabe and many of his Zanu PF and government lieutenants that the majority of them are young enough to be his children and grandchildren.
Referring to his brutal axing from both the post-congress Zanu PF and the government, Mutasa said: “He expelled his only friend akatarisa sahwira wake sedhongi (he treated me his friend as a donkey). But I will always respect him. I was always loyal and now I feel he is an isolated man. If only I knew what to do to rescue him I would gladly do so but I don’t”.
Mutasa, once an untouchable senior official in Mugabe’s team, was unceremoniously expelled from the post-congress Zanu PF along with the party’s other leading lights such as former Vice President Joice Mujuru and respected liberation struggle pioneer Rugare Gumbo, after being accused of plotting to oust and kill the nonagenarian.
“It is really painful and sad that he (Mugabe) has chosen to discard all the people he can easily relate to and he is the only one who knows why. We are seeing that he is removing all the people who were close to him and who participated with him during the liberation struggle,” he added.
However, Mugabe — who was once described by his late uncle James Chikerema as a loner — has since Zimbabwe’s independence in April 1980 clashed with many of the people who were part of the nucleus that formed and built Zanu PF in the early 1960s.
One of the party’s founding fathers and former secretary-general, Edgar Tekere, was hounded and then expelled from the party twice, in 1981 and 2007, after he challenged some of Mugabe’s decisions, in addition to criticising the corrupt activities of many of the nonagenarian’s acolytes.
Mutasa, a childhood friend of Tekere, said yesterday that up to date he has neither come to terms nor understood the real reasons why Mugabe expelled “the man with whom he crossed the border to Mozambique to intensify the liberation war struggle”.
“The expulsion of Tekere was taken when I was away and even up to now we are lost as to why he was expelled.”
Apart from Tekere, Mugabe also clashed and parted ways with the man in whose house Zanu PF was formed in 1963 — Enos Nkala.
After Nkala fell by the wayside, ostensibly over the Willowgate scandal, Mugabe also clashed with another Zanu PF stalwart, Edson Zvogbo, who is reputed to have died in 2004 a bitter man over the nonagenarian’s alleged “dictatorial tendencies” and failure to anoint a successor.
Some observers also claim that Mugabe’s ruthless treatment of Mujuru is in large measure revenge for the many years that he allegedly suffered resistance and criticism at the hands of her late husband, General Solomon Mujuru, whose remains were found after a mysterious inferno at his Beatrice Farm three years ago.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, last week, Mutasa also said Zimbabwe had descended into “complete lawlessness” and that Mugabe was now increasingly powerless to do anything about it as the “corrupt vultures” surrounding him had usurped both his Zanu PF and State powers for their narrow interests.
Mutasa spoke as the ruling party’s deadly factional and succession wars continue to rage on, amid fresh claims that the party’s Young Turks are plotting to oust their leaders, including Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, from power.
Over the past few months, the party has descended into alarming chaos that has seen it effectively splitting into two distinct and bitterly opposed formations following the brutal purging of party stalwarts.
Consequently, the disaffected group has been operating and organising itself in the name of the “original” Zanu PF, using the slogan People First — a movement they claim enjoys widespread support.
“What is happening in Zimbabwe is embarrassing. This idea (by the post-congress Zanu PF) of taking the law into their hands means that there is now no rule of law. Look at the disgraceful land grabs and you will see that there is no security of tenure.
“People just wake up and grab farms, which is a terrible indictment on the party. What is now very clear is that all people who are opposed to this post-congress Zanu PF risk losing their land,” said the former minister of Lands and Resettlement.
Citing the minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo, Mutasa said the minister typified the worst levels of impunity that were “enjoyed by those on the ruling party gravy train”.
Asked what it would take to stop the rot, Mutasa said a meeting with Mugabe would be the first step, but quickly added that he would only engage his former boss when the dust had settled.
“I am not in a rush to meet him. I will only try to engage him when the situation is better for both of us,” he said.
Specifically asked what it is he hoped could get better, Mutasa — who is suing Mugabe in the country’s courts — said, “I will do that when we have assessed the situation. I cannot summon him to meet me but he can”.
The diminutive politician scathingly added that most of the country’s public officials were “rotten to the core”, going on to bemoan the sad state of the country’s politics and democratic credentials.