By Professor Ken Mufuka
The introduction of another party, by former Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi into the Zimbabwe political arena reminded me of the ten years I spent researching about Robert Mugabe and his leadership of ZANU-PF.
Mzembi rues the fall of Mugabe and desires a restoration of the good old looting days. He belongs to the old ZANU-PF leadership. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Mzembi’s adventure reminds me of the main pillar of Mugabe’s longevity in politics. Anybody who came into contact with Mugabe was sure to be tainted by some outrageous act before he established himself in Mugabe’s universe.
Take Mzembi’s record in Masvingo. Brilliant, young, vivacious and generally savvy about world tourism, he brought Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls back into play as the world’s premier tourist attraction and natural wonder. He also had the ear of Mugabe.
We assumed then, that Mzembi would be conscious of the sacred nature of property rights. For, how else where tourist players supposed to invest their hard earned money unless there was some assurance of continuity?
On this, he failed dismally. I will mention only three of Mzembi’s unforgivable sins in Masvingo of which I was an eyewitness. I was on the Masvingo Planning Board (1984) when Makulu Murungu Michere (Mitchell) approached me with a chicken experiment he was making.
He had two electric bulbs, a 90 volt and a 60 volt in his hands. If he could find the proper voltage for his chickens, he could speed up egg hatchery by two to three weeks.
When I visited to pay condolences for the passing of my old friend, I was told his 84 year old wife was “resting in South Africa, after an invasion of her farm by some ZANU-PF louts.” At this point, 2015, Barquest Farm employed 200 native workers, had a $3.5 million hatchery backed by 100 000 eggs a day.
All this meant nothing to Mzembi, who had run down his own farm. Masvingo Mirror reported that Mzembi had previously overrun the land around Lake Mtirikwi, a pristine holiday resort.
As if this was not enough, with the help of party thugs, he had overrun Renco Gold Mine, the largest employer in Masvingo Province.
In all these shenanigans, he had the support of Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora, and Political Commissar Savior Kasukuwere. When Mzembi left office, he was accused of misappropriation of vehicles allocated to the World Tourism Conference for personal use.
According to the new party’s press statement, President E. Mnangagwa has failed to fulfill ZANU-PF promises. We have been sold a “dummy” in the new dispensation.
The present government has shrunk democratic space, the statement argues. Please tell that to Mrs. Mitchell and the 200 workers at Barquest Farm.
The Diaspora is lethargic in its response to events at home. I personally went to Zimbabwe on a mission from two Diaspora investment groups, before and after Mnangagwa’s ascendency. Mzembi and his crew were on their barbaric mission to destroy whatever confidence investors had in Zimbabwe.
Kasukuwere led the youth group which forced Nestle International to close or shift its operations. If Nestle, Renco Mines and Barquest Chicks have no security of tenure, surely, we in the Diaspora are in the same boat with them.
The Masvingo Mirror reported Mzembi’s arrival at Renco Mine with pomp. “he called a public meeting and announced that RioZim had not complied with the indigenization obligations … and hence they were taking over Renco.”
This is the sum total of Mzembi’s comprehension of the laws of commerce and industry. The shareholders were not consulted, the Zimbabwe bourse was not informed, the workers were not consulted and the international market was supposed to swallow the deal.
By the way Mzembi wears a gold tooth.
The press statement says that there is a general wake up by Zimbabweans against the oppressive practices of ZANU-PF.
In my ten year research, a common theme in the longevity of the Mugabe rule was the recurrent desire by Mugabe’s enablers, once they were defenestrated from office, to form new parties.
Zimbabwean Tapiwa Chiriga, on reading about the new party, recalled that “a few months ago, you were cheer- leading ZANU-PF and Mnangagwa. Now your eyes are opened so much that you see another ZANU (party) as a solution.”
Mzembi is unfit for leadership by any name whatever. If by chance, Mnangagwa had not expelled him from ZANU-PF, he would still be there, cheering the policies he now says have failed to fulfill Zimbabwean dreams.
In his treatment of 84 year old Mrs. Mitchell, he showed callousness that is the trademark of ZANU-PF. Today they ransack the 100 000 per day egg farm. Tomorrow they want the United Nations to save children from malnutrition. It is the fact that such men like him, like Didymus Mutasa, like Mai Joice Mujuru, and many others, cheered Mugabe that his longevity was assured for so long.
When these same people lost favor with the devil, that they had created and protected, they wanted our support. They miss the camaraderie of a Mafioso. This brother does not deserve anybody’s support.