By Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono
Thank you very much Professor Ken Mufuka for ‘responding’ to my article: The Demise of the Crocodile. Please see: Letter from America – Mnangagwa: I understand perfectly!
However, I think that your argument was not actually an apt response to my article, but a totally separate contribution to trying to understand what is happening after the dismissal of former Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, from his government and party political posts.
At NO point in my article Prof did I say that Emmerson Mnangagwa was finished, not to rise again as you insinuated.
Instead, I set out to explain how he became the latest victim of Mugabe’s decades old style of purging political and leadership rivals.
I also set out to explain using the benefit of history how Mugabe will respond to an Emmerson Mnangagwa leadership challenge after his dismissal.
I also explained the mistakes made by Mnangagwa and those around him, mistakes that cost him his job and political power on which his strength hinged on.
At NO point in my article did I state that Mnangagwa had sunken never to resurface again.
I am not a descendent of a Jewish prophet my Brother Ken, as such, I would never make such a pronouncement or declaration usually associated with sycophantic rants when not backed up with facts.
Prof, you are a trained historian and as such you will agree with me that cogent arguments and logical analysis are drawn from historical lessons, not wishful thinking which can’t be backed up by empirical evidence.
Anything asserted without evidence can equally be dismissed without evidence too.
But let us not do that and instead put some flesh to our arguments.
The story that I mentioned in my article about Mugabe’s long held perception and disdain for Emmerson Mnangagwa was not said to me as part of Mugabe’s ‘Chinese smoke and mirrors syndrome’ as you alluded to in your article.
It was mentioned to me through a series of professional and scholarly interviews I have had with those who were close to Mugabe during his formative years, those who continued to have Mugabe’s confidence throughout his presidency until they crossed lines and were excommunicated from his inner circle. Just as what happened on Monday to the former Vice President.
There are many such people who are still with us today, I also had the fortune of interviewing people like Edson Zvobgo, Nathan Shamuyarira, Ibbo Mandaza, Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe’s relatives, Rugare Gumbo, George Kahari, Edgar Tekere, Chrispen Mandizvidza, Stanley Sakupwanya and many others in my quest to understand Robert Mugabe.
So the ‘cruel and killer’ analogy that I referenced in my article emanated from such interactions, which I had with these people who have worked with Mugabe or were Mugabe’s friends and political allies.
I remember one such interview at Nathan Shamuyarira’s home whilst with eminent Historian, author and University of Oxford scholar, Miles Tendi.
Nathan Shamuyarira was always candid when talking to me about such issues and had written documents, which he shared with Miles Tendi and myself and generously passed on some of them to us.
Prof, I want to address what I see as your misplaced fascination with Grace Mugabe’s powers of persuasion and commission over the President, you are not alone in seeing things in such lenses.
Unfortunately, I think that such analysis stems from not knowing the real Robert Mugabe.
Robert Mugabe has been sacking leadership rivals before he became Zimbabwe’s first independence leader.
There was NO Grace Mugabe when the President got rid of Vashandi, Rugare Gumbo, Henry Hamadziripi, Joshua Nkomo, Edgar Tekere, Dzikamai Mavhaire the list goes on!
I would argue that Mugabe got rid of the most powerful and formidable leadership contenders before he even knew of Grace.
Grace Mugabe was 15 years of age when Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister.
So I find the argument that Grace Mugabe is responsible for what is happening today, intellectually dishonest and a major failure on our part to use history in order to properly and fully understand today’s events.
Grace Mugabe is not the one who got Joice Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa and many others before them fired from ZANU PF.
It was Robert Mugabe who made those decisions based on his Machiavellian style of leadership & well-known power retention schemes.
You can’t fully credit my Gardener for cutting my neighbor’s mango trees when he did so under my instruction and supervision.
My Gardener is only as culpable as Emmerson Mnangagwa was when he helped Mugabe in the sacking of Joice Mujuru and her gang, by amending the constitution and providing an excuse for Mugabe to expel them legally.
To think otherwise assumes that Robert Mugabe is sat down at home by his wife and told what to do and how to do it, that to me is unimaginative and quite a stretch.
You alluded to how the party (ZANUPF) has become lawless, the party has always been lawless and dangerous Brother Ken.
I do not think that Ndabaningi Sithole and Rugare Gumbo were lawfully ejected during the struggle.
Neither do I think that the Gukurahundi Massacres were carried out on a lawful ruling party dictum.
All this had nothing to do with Grace Mugabe, interestingly it had everything to do with Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru.
They were at the heart of these commissions and yet they have suddenly seen the light and how cruel Mugabe is and how lawless ZANUPF is after their ejection?
So to call Grace Mugabe the chief strategist shows how detached we are to what is happening in ZANUPF at the moment. It is an expression of opinion as opposed to fact.
I will confidently say to you that even Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere can wake up tomorrow victims of the same venom that they are currently serving to their adversaries.
Who would have thought that “The Son of Man’ would not only be fired from the Vice Presidency and the party, but also be forced to retreat out of the country?
You are right Brother Ken when you say that this style of cooking up spurious allegations has been with us for a long time.
But why do you think that the song has suddenly been overplayed when it came to Emmerson Mnangagwa’s turn?
There was an infamous Committee of 22 that was also referred to as The Zezuru Broederbond, which the Zezuru elite in ZANU PF were aware of or part of.
They always made it absolutely clear that they would not countenance a Karanga Presidency.
Again Brother Ken, Grace was not yet out of school when this was happening.
The then powerful business man, Ben Mucheche, knew more of what was happening in government to the extend that prospective ministers would trek to his home to find out if they had been included in Mugabe’s new cabinets.
Again, Grace Mugabe was not yet in the President’s life.
You are a historian brother Ken, go and dig a little bit more to understand what is going on.
As Zimbabweans, we generally avoid tackling the real source of our problems, we look for low hanging fruits for answers.
I suggest that Grace Mugabe is one such low hanging fruit.
Mugabe knew from the time Emmerson Mnangagwa was coined his ‘Heir Apparent’ in a Financial Gazette article by Kindness Paradza, that his subordinate would never be his successor through his facilitation or on his watch.
He even said it when Ben Mucheche remonstrated according to Nathan Shamuyarira.
Ben Mucheche is still alive Prof.
Emmerson Mnangwagwa has joined a long queue of former contenders who were accused of the same ‘treasonous’ crime that he finds himself having to deal with.
Only that this time, he is not an accessory to the repressive apparatus, he is the victim.
Will he resurface? Anyone can resurface Brother Ken or disappear for good depending on their abilities, skills and social base.
Ndabaningi Sithole is an example of how you can sink and never surface again and Joshua Nkomo is an example of how after sinking you can resurface and be accommodated.
There has never been one who resurfaced and dismantled Mugabe’s repressive architecture and got rid of the Old Man.
If Emmerson Mnangagwa does it as you suggest Brother Ken, he would have succeeded where Josiah Tongogara, Solomon Mujuru, Edson Zvobgo, Edgar Tekere, Joshua Nkomo, Joice Mujuru, Dumiso Dabengwa, Simba Makoni and many more failed.
Morgan Tsvangirai did it in 2008 only to be stopped by an effort led by Emmerson Mnangagwa Prof.
Time will tell. Let us wait for time and avoid the usual Western Embassy circuit uninformed gossip ramblings.
Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono is an award winning Documentary Filmmaker, Television Journalist and New York Times contributor.
He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a Desmond Tutu Fellow at the University of Oxford and was the 2008 CNN African Journalist of the year. He can be reached @ [email protected]