By Vasco Chaya
Veteran journalist and author, Shepherd Mutamba, has released an explosive, second tell-all book on the life of Oliver Mtukudzi – whom he claims received many gifts from unhinged former first lady Grace Mugabe and also controversially hosted several aides of former president Robert Mugabe, including Cabinet ministers and security chiefs at his Norton arts centre.
Writing, in the newly-released book on the celebrated musician, Mutamba also claims that during his time as Tuku’s publicity, he never once saw the musical icon hosting opposition politicians.
The second instalment on Mtukudzi’s life, Tuku Backstage 2, officially went on sale in the capital yesterday. It has 11 new chapters and 188 pictures which Mutamba used to back up some of his claims on different aspects of the veteran musician’s life.
Meanwhile, Mtukudzi has said that he will not stop the book from being sold on the market — even as he expressed surprise and bewilderment that his former trusted publicist had gone on to author another controversial book on him.
“It’s news to us. We were not aware of this new book, but after all who cares? It is his (Mutamba) democratic right to do so and at the same time it is not Tuku’s business to respond to whatever is said about him. His core business is to produce good music.
“Surely, we have no time to pay attention to every barking dog,” Tuku told the Daily News through his new publicist Walter Wanyanya, ahead of the unveiling of the book.
In the new book, Mutamba once again lays bare what he claims were Mtukudzi’s weaknesses — including allegedly failing to extricate himself from Mugabe’s grip as a result of the gifts given to him by the nonagenarian and his wife.
In the process, the veteran journalist — who worked with Mtukudzi for five years as his publicist — portrayed Mtukudzi through words and pictures as being unusually close to Mugabe’s family and his ministers.
“When we review Tuku’s position, in recent years, when he gave up political commentary, as he tried to distance himself from politics altogether, it is important to discuss his association with the political animals that he befriended.
“To my knowledge, Tuku associated with Mugabe and his wife Grace, from about the year 2010, when he started receiving special gifts from State House; then he suddenly stopped all political criticism, completely.
“I realised, too, that the president’s high profile men became regular guests at Tuku’s special functions, particularly deputy chief secretary to the President, Christian Katsande, who must have been the special envoy of the First Family,” Mutamba said in one of the chapters where he looks at politics and Mtukudzi’s dalliances with Zanu PF bigwigs.
“Tuku would meet Mugabe’s men, but I was not privy to the nature of their conversations. He met the likes of Nicholas Goche, who headed the portfolio that runs the CIO.
“Tuku’s liaison with Mugabe’s special men, indeed, extended to the security’s top brass whose offices have acted at variance with the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
“He hosted the Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who presided over the partisan and brutal national police that enforces the law selectively. Chihuri’s critics said he is an accessory to Mugabe’s tyranny,” Mutamba added.
He also said the then commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, also regularly visited Tuku’s offices.
Mutamba suggested that perhaps the connection, between the two of them was solely on the basis of humanitarian projects that they ran together.
Shiri is now minister of Lands and Agriculture in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
“Tuku was compromised, more in a fix, really, as long as Mugabe was in power. He could not easily extricate himself from Mugabe’s grip after accepting the presents.
“By renouncing political criticism, Tuku betrayed all the victims of Mugabe’s misrule that Tuku represented in his music all along, before he jumped into bed with Mugabe,” Mutamba said.
In 2015, Mtukudzi was angered by Mutamba when the former published the first edition of Tuku Backstage, which also contained some riveting stuff on the music maestro’s public and private life.
The book caused serious consternation within the Mtukudzi family, as well as among his legion of followers.
Mutamba claimed then that Mugabe had given the music icon an expensive state-of-the-art studio equipment, among other gifts.
“In October 2010, Tuku accepted a gift of $87 000 worth of state-of-the-art studio equipment directly from the-then president.
“He (Tuku) told me about the gift and showed me the equipment that he kept under lock and key, right in his office and not in the storeroom,” Mutamba said in that first book.
He also claimed that Tuku had accepted free advertising in State media that had been arranged by politicians, to announce his late son Sam’s memorial service. DailyNews