By Joseph Madzimure and Beaven Dhliwayo
Long-serving Zanu-PF member Didymus Mutasa, who was expelled from the party at the height of factionalism and readmitted in October last year after spending two years in the wilderness is retracing his political footsteps.
Mutasa was fired on same day as Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa, allegedly for undermining the party leadership, then under former president Robert Mugabe in 2015.
Like the biblical story of the “prodigal son,” Zanu-PF readmitted Mutasa together with former chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Jabulani Sibanda and Chenjerai Kangausaru.
After spending some years in the cold, Mutasa was appointed advisor at the Chitepo School of Ideology.
The veteran politician hailed the party for establishing the Chitepo School of Ideology (CSI) which he said is an essential institution for mentoring party members, especially the youths on party’s principles.
“The school serves as a useful instrument in mentoring party members, especially the youths on what needs to be done,” he said.
“The youth should not be used to harass and intimidate their seniors to serve other people’s personal agendas.”
The school, he said, would help to shape the minds of party members in defending the party and Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity. Party members should not spend most of their time on trivial issues since it creates factionalism,” Mutasa said.
He also believed strongly that ideology was critical in moulding the cadre that would represent the party in Parliament.
“Focus should be put on how to move the country forward. How do we select members who represent the party in Parliament?
“Those who want to stand as National Assembly members in the coming elections should be elected on merit after considering their background and political history.”
The veteran politician still maintained that he never left Zanu-PF, but he had personal issues with Mr Mugabe, who later incited the youth to chide at him at party gatherings.
“I feel happy to be back in the party,” he said.
“It feels good to be back to the revolutionary party. Its my home.”
“I have no qualms in rejoining the party as an ordinary member since it was the party rule to do so.”
Born in 1935 in Rusape, he was the sixth child of a devout Christian couple.
Mutasa was a student of Fircroft College of Adult Education in Birmingham, United Kingdom, where he attended the Access to Higher Education Course.
He studied at Birmingham University on a British Council scholarship. Mutasa was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Social Science (DSocSc) by the University of Birmingham in 1990
Before the country attained its independence from Britain, he was chairman of the Cold Comfort Farm society, a non-racial co-operative community near Salisbury (as it then was).
This was located on a farm formerly belonging to Lord Acton. It was promoted by Guy Clutton-Brock and others.
After independence, Mutasa was Zimbabwe’s first Speaker of Parliament from 1980 to 1990.
He has served as the Member of Parliament for Makoni North and as a member of the ZANU-PF Politburo and as the party’s secretary for administration.
In April 1998, Mutasa, defending former president Robert Mugabe, said that if Mugabe were pressed to step down, then the entire Cabinet and Politburo should step down along with him, because, in Mutasa’s view, if Mugabe had truly “stayed for too long and misgoverned,” then those who had governed with him, “including those who are calling on Mugabe to step down,” must have done so as well.
In 2002, he controversially said that it would be a good thing if the population were halved: “We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who supported the liberation struggle. We don’t want all these extra people.”
He was appointed as Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office in charge of the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Programme on 9 February 2004, he was then appointed as State Security Minister in mid-April 2005, following the March 2005 parliamentary election, later Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in the President’s Office.
In the March 2008 parliamentary election, Mutasa was nominated by ZANU-PF as its candidate for the House of Assembly seat from Headlands constituency in Manicaland.
He won the seat with 7 257 votes against 4 235 for Fambirayi Tsimba of the Movement for Democratic Change, according to official results.
Mutasa was identified with a faction in ZANU-PF that wanted Vice-President Joice Mujuru to become President Mugabe’s successor.
In late 2014, the Mujuru faction was accused of plotting against Mugabe, and in that context Mutasa failed to win re-election to the ZANU-PF Central Committee in November 2014.
At the funeral of former Cabinet Minister and Zanu PF politburo member Nathan Shamuyarira, Mugabe lamented that his nationalist party had been invaded by bugs from within, which needed to be rid of.
While addressing a youth meeting in Mutare Mutasa coined the term “Gamatox” in reference to remarks that Mugabe had made earlier.
“You were talking about the issue of weevils here. Way back we used to treat weevils by spraying gamatox (pesticide) and they would all die. Our weevils, if you know about them, which we are castigating now, please apply gamatox on them,” said Mutasa.
During the “Meet the People” rallies held in various parts of the countries, then first lady Grace Mugabe popularised the slogan: “pasi ne gamatox” (down with Gamatox).
This raised the stakes against Mutasa and Joice Mujuru.
Mutasa was arguably Joice Mujuru’s biggest ally in her political aspirations.
At a rally held at Zanu PF Headquarters in Harare in November 2014, Mutasa addressed the people amid calls and slogans against him.
The people insisted that he should recite the slogan “pasi negamatox” but he openly refused.
Former president Mugabe, however, came to his rescue when he told the audience that Mutasa was only intending to land the post of the national chairman and not the presidency.
He was dismissed from his ministerial post on 8 December 2014, at the same time that Mujuru and others allied with her lost their posts in the government and party.
In 2017, his two top-of-the-range vehicles and household property were attached over legal fees he owed lawyers who represented him.
Mutasa is upbeat about the future of his party.
“We need to respect those who sacrificed their lives to liberate the country,” he said. “We must work collectively as a party towards building the nation. We must unite and strengthen our party structures to ensure ZANU – PF continues to dominate the politics of our country.
“I’m happy to back to my party. I will always try my best to do everything I can to bring unity and a common vision in the party.” The Herald