Grace and quest for safe haven post-Gushungo era
By William Muchayi
From time immemorial in African discourse, it has been an acknowledged truism that it’s only the foolish cock that believes the sun won’t rise if he doesn’t crow.
This old adage as ancient as humanity itself has eluded President Robert Mugabe in spite of his exceptional academic record buttressed by the rare gift of long life. Regrettably, the consequences of this miscalculation on the part of the First Family can hardly be underestimated once Gushungo vanishes from the political stage.
And, in a bizarre fashion not akin to that of this universe, the Mugabes mislead themselves consciously or otherwise into believing that they are the Alpha and Omega of the impoverished country’s destiny, a myth parroted in their multi-million dairy project, Alpha Omega. In fact, this sheer grandstanding not typical of mortals is not unique in the context of contemporary African history as trappings of power insulate their victims from the real world.
In view of this invincibility, is it any wonder that during the peak of his reign, the Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda of Malawi once intimated that he was too busy to die? It is in this context that the First Family’s world view has to be understood as Mugabe’s reign draws to an end, a fact acknowledged by both foes and friends. Once the doors of hell opens for the nonagenarian, Grace gets exposed to marauding vultures.
At stake for the Gushungo family are the twin problems of family security and their sprawling business empire in the nonagenarian’s absence. Indeed, Grace is well aware of this conundrum just like the President himself as she once intimated, ‘’ Pane vanhu vari kuda kundizvuzvurudza mutara when the President goes’’ (There are people who would like to drag me against tarred road), the implication being that she is well aware of enemies surrounding her who will be encouraged to take their revenge in Mugabe’s absence. Indeed, a close observation of her erratic behaviour of late oscillates around this issue.
On one hand, she wishes to portray Mugabe as immortal while on the other acknowledges his vulnerability to nature as she intimates ‘’ If God decides to take him, we would rather field him as a corpse.’’ All these contradictions clearly indicate a failure to come to terms with Mugabe’s inevitable demise. However, it remains a mystery as to why family members left it too late to be in this conundrum.
In panic, Grace catapults herself to the helm of the ruling party’s Women’s League, the idea being to fill the vacuum Gushungo leaves with his rapidly deteriorating health and eventual departure. It has to be realised that even Joyce Mujuru’s unceremonious expulsion from Zanu PF has to be understood within this context and the subsequent purges that rages on in the ruling party even now.
In Grace’s eyes, a Joyce Mujuru presidency couldn’t in any way safeguard her family security in Mugabe’s absence, as well as their sprawling business empire acquired over time, hence, the need to purge her, thus, eliminating the poor lady from the succession equation. And, that also explains why no charges were levelled against the victim once she was out of the picture.
It’s not that Joyce Mujuru would have been a direct threat to Grace in Mugabe’s absence, but, the mere fact that a Mujuru presidency couldn’t withstand pressure from rivals in the post- Mugabe era was enough justification to boot her out of the way. All these manoeuvres to protect Mugabe’s family in his absence explains Bona’s recent appointments as a board member of the Empower Bank and the Aeneas Chigwedere-led Censorship Board.
This appointment follows right on the heels of Simba Chikore’s appointment as Chief Operating Officer at Air Zimbabwe. And, with the pace at which this drama unfolds, it won’t be long before Robert (Jr) and Chatunga are elevated to various strategic positions within the country to safeguard family interests in anticipation of Mugabe’s departure.
Of late, media circles were awash with speculation that Mugabe might appoint Gideon Gono as his successor to safeguard family interests in post-Gushungo era. However, a close scrutiny of this theory exposes its flaws to be of any relevance in this soap opera. Indeed, it is a fact that a Gedion Gono presidency would be the best bet for Grace in the ideal world. However, the real world favours the fittest and Gono is as vulnerable as Grace herself in the post-Mugabe era.
The nonagenarian being a security freak would not gamble on the former banker to succeed him considering the latter’s lack of military background which has been the former’s backbone since independence. And, this factor automatically rules out Gono from the succession equation leaving Mnangagwa as the favourite to succeed the nonagenarian.
However, much to the disappointment of Lacoste fanatics, far from being the anointed successor, Mnangagwa is furthest from the throne than ever before if the button is passed from the sitting incumbent to him constitutionally as opposed to a coup d’état. This is so for several reasons. Firstly, Mugabe never forgave Ngwena (Mnangagwa) for the latter’s alleged involvement in the 2004 Tsholotsho debacle.
If the late James Dambaza Chikerema was still alive, he would have confirmed this as the nonagenarian never forgives anyone who crosses his path, with the latter being a victim himself in spite of the two’s blood relationship and immense contribution to the struggle of independence.
It seems Mugabe keeps Mnangagwa close to him not out of love but for convenience in addition to the latter’s close links to the military that serves the former’s interests. Secondly, the open rebellion by war veterans aligned to Team Lacoste against Mugabe hasn’t helped strengthen the two’s relationship.
Mugabe is well aware of Ngwena’s shenanigans in relationship to his row with the former freedom fighters aligned to Christopher Mutsvangwa. It implies that the more the pressure war veterans exert on Mugabe to elevate Mnangagwa, the wider the wedge created between the two.
Thirdly, once this mistrust defines the two’s relationship, it is highly unlikely that Grace would be comfortable to invest her family’s safety in a Mnangagwa presidency, hence, chances being slim that the latter will succeed Mugabe.
However, that being said, it remains strange that at times Lacoste kingpins, from Christopher Mutsvangwa to Victor Matemadanda praise Mugabe today and tomorrow they sing a different tune. Is there a deal struck behind doors between the First Family and Team Lacoste that guarantees the latter the throne in the near future?
All this drama reaches a climax as Jonathan Moyo throws Sydney Sekeramayi’s name in the succession ring from the blue to the astonishment of all. After all options have been discussed, this latest is the most plausible of them all. Indeed, few doubt that Jonathan Moyo would have the guts to disclose this secret without Grace and Mugabe’s blessings. Being the minister of defence, an institution Mugabe relies upon for security, Sekeramayi can be the sole beneficiary of this succession drama.
In fact, what is the nature of relationship between Patrick Zhuwawo and his uncle Bob and to what extent does the former knows about the nonagenarian’s choice of successor to dismiss Mnangagwa’s dreams with contempt? Not only that, in private what is it that Patrick Zhuwawo tells Jonathan Moyo about the succession conundrum which the latter is privy to due to his blood relationship to the President? And, to spice the drama, what sort of relationship exists between the First Family and the Chinese?
It should be realised that the Chinese never participated in the scramble for Africa and it would be naïve to believe that they might not be interested in the idea in the 21st century. In this regard, Grace can be a security threat to the country in the post-Mugabe. In several of her business ventures, Grace partners with Chinese investors as is the case with Manzou Farm where several villagers were displaced to pave way for a game park.
In fact, Zimbabwe is among the top three Chinese investment destinations in Africa, attracting total FDI of more than $600 million in 2013. This close relationship by Grace with the Chinese is not only significant today but it provides future security guarantees for the First Family in the post-Mugabe era.
However, after all is said, it is indisputable that time is not on the side of the First Family and Grace in particular, as the dark cloud hovers over them with vultures salivating to pounce. In these trying times, the simple advice from a stranger would have been to make friendship with more people than enemies.
Bona, being an educated lady who appears not to be stupid should realise that in her father’s absence, she is just as vulnerable as any other woman be it in Maungwe, Mkokoba, Filabusi, Checheche or Chibasani.
William Muchayi is a pro-democracy activist who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org