by Mthulisi Mathuthu
TALK of a rift between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Jonathan Moyo may have been compounded after the information minister emphatically told the BBC that the vice president was not the heir apparent but just Mugabe’s “appointed assistant”.
Appearing in the HARDtalk programme early Monday, Moyo’s body language easily betrayed irritation at the suggestion that Mnangagwa, by virtue of being Mugabe’s assistant, was poised to take over.
As soon as HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur put the suggestion to him, a visibly irritated Moyo interjected:
“That’s your view. Don’t state it as a fact,” he said jabbing the air with the index finger.
When reminded that Mnangagwa was the VP and, as such, stood to take over Moyo replied:
“He is the VP of the country; one of the two appointed by the president to assist him to implement the president’s agenda related to his pledges to the electorate”.
To the statement that many in the country saw Mnangagwa as the next president Moyo said: “You can ask those who see him that way. The president did not appoint him so that he could succeed him. The president appointed him so that he could assist him to implement government polices”.
He added: “This reference to him (Mnangagwa) as the next president is yours (Sackur). And it is the burden that you should unravel yourself and not state as a fact”.
Talk that there was a great gulf fixed between Moyo and Mnangagwa surfaced last year. Newspapers have reported of misunderstandings between the two over many issues ranging from internal Zanu PF administrative issues to the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide in which Mnangagwa played a key role.
Moyo himself lost relatives to the carnage which Mugabe has referred to as a “moment of madness”.
When asked if, given that personal tragedy in which Mnangagwa played a role, he could countenance being led by the same person, Moyo said the episode had been dealt with through the 1987 Unity Accord signed between Mugabe and the late VP Joshua Nkomo, adding that “in politics it is not wise to carry grudges with you”.
But despite the denial that there was a grudge over the issue, Moyo’s reaction in the BBC interview is in keeping with the past.
In the 1990s, Moyo wrote a series of critical articles about the government including about Mugabe and Mnangagwa in relation to their roles in the Matabeleland tragedy.
In one of the articles published in the Zimbabwe Independent, Moyo exhibited clear resentment for the idea of Mnangagwa being the next leader, saying it would have to be a “cold day in hell” for that to happen.
Last year, Moyo took to the state media to reject claims that Mnangagwa was going to take over from Mugabe. Moyo said there were people who were confusing an appointment with an anointment, adding that it would be illegal for Mugabe to do so.
“It would be unconstitutional and indeed undemocratic for the president to do that. As such, those who want the president to designate a successor are either charlatans or enemies of constitutionalism and democracy,” Moyo told the Sunday Mail in December.
“And in the case of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the current succession provision does not allow for automatic elevation but requires the political party of the previous incumbent to nominate the successor in accordance with its internal constitutional procedures, and the Zanu PF constitutional procedure provides for the convening of an extraordinary Congress to elect a successor should that be necessary.
“Anyone who wants to succeed President Mugabe will have to win the hearts and minds first of the membership of Zanu PF and then of Zimbabweans,” he said.
Since then, observors and journalists have reported not seeing Moyo in some public events presided over by Mnangagwa
Moyo and Mnangagwa were largely seen as comrades in the run up to the December congress which saw the ouster of former VP Joice Mujuru and her colleagues who inlude former intelligence minister Didymus Mutasa.
On Monday, Moyo also played down fears of strife in the post Mugabe era, arguing that Zimbabwe was a constitutional democracy with provisions for the acquisition of power.
Moyo said the issue of Mugabe’s age (91) was inconsequential as the people of Zimbabwe themselves had given him a mandate through the ballot box only two years ago.
The minister also refused to accept that his comment that South African xenophobic attacks risked to turn into a genocide were too strong, saying he had no problems with the South Africans but had a duty to speak out in defence of affected Zimbabweans some of whom he said were from his Tsholotsho area.
He also played down suggestions that the Zanu PF government was responsible for the dire economic situation the country finds itself in, arguing that the country was under pressure from external forces who sought to effect regime change.
On missing journalist Itai Dzamara, who was abducted by suspected state agents two months back, Moyo said the development was ‘sad’ and the government was not aware who his abductors were, suggesting he may have skipped the country.newzimbabwe