A revolution swallowing one of its own?


The recent topical and intriguing case where Ministers Theresa Makone and Dydimus Mutasa coalesced into an anomalous partnership in the case of Temba Mliswa marks one of the most interesting pinnacles of the gripping politics in Zimbabwe.
What makes it so mesmerising is the cross-network of the two political powerhouses who however belong across each other’s divide.
The implications and derivations are much deeper than one would read from the surface of this issue. There is all supposition that this case is indicative of the intra-posturing of the politics in Zanu PF. Didymus Mutasa has for some time been a falling star in Zanu PF. He made a politicallly suicidal attempt at challenging for vice-presidency after the death of Joseph Msika.
Despite the obvious signs that the party intended to allot the position to Matabeleland in order to salvage the ravaged Unity Accord of 1987, Mutasa deliberately went for the nearly impossible.
He was subsequently left out in the cold as the post conveniently wafted to John Nkomo. Mutasa then also faced the onslaught from Zanu PF’s Manicaland province, where his perennial power matrix was challenged and dramatically dissipated.
When the coalition government was intimated in February 2010, Mutasa was one of the former party stalwarts who had to find their way back into government through an unceremonious political coercion, leading to the existing bloated Cabinet.
His inclusion was therefore through a last-gap exertion, confirming the fading fortunes of his political verve within his own party.
When Mliswa enacted his now-too-familiar antics on the farms and in business circles, most of us unsuspectingly attributed all that to his lack of maturity and his impulsive foray into the realms of economic empowerment.
What we did not realise is that he was related to Mutasa in some way. If I were in Mutasa’s shoes then, I would have responsibly sat the young man down and disciplined him, bombarding him with morality, sensibility and sobriety — that is if he cared at all.
However people of such governmental responsibility as Mutasa allowed the young man to override his fortunes and over-shoot his boundary. He straddled across the normality of what one would sagaciously be restrained to.
Why at all would close relations like Mutasa allow people they love and have concern for to drive along such self-destructive trails ? Anyway, that’s the world of politics and one would be tempted to find the connection between Mliswa’s rhetoric and subsequent arrests, his relationship to Mutasa, Mutasa’s fall to obscurity in the party and Mutasa’s former responsibilities in land redistribution.
What we must remember is that Zanu PF has habitually and periodicallly sacrificed its own members at every juncture at which certain sentiments and notions need to be piercingly projected.
We remember the time when Phillip Chiyangwa was taken to the courts during his active days in the Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial structures.
There is also Chris Kuruneri who had then just been appointment as minister of Finance and was immediately hauled before the courts.
These classical examples actually depict those moments when Zanu PF uncharacteristically becomes venomous towards its own constituents. Zanu PF operates in cycles and unpredictable seasons.
One must be able to read these indications in order to understand and endeavour to be on the right side of the action when the axe falls.
Chiyangwa’s case was used as a forerunner to the party’s clampdown on the alleged sabotage cases. Kuruneri’s case forbore the clampdown on economic crimes in the business and political sectors.
Is Mliswa’s case yet another floodgate that is opening and leading to another onslaught — maybe this time on the imprudence of the land reform convolutions?
If it is, then Mutasa being the former issuer of offer letters may be an interesting cog in the unfolding political mystery that seems to have afflicted Zanu PF.
Is Mliswa’s hauling before the courts (with a potential 70 charges) an instigation of yet another phase in Zanu PF’s self-cleansing exercise, that normally consumes its own functionaries?
It may be too early to tell, but there are signs that we could be entering another era of politicised intentions driven by the party’s sacrifice of those exposed as has historically been depicted.
In Mliswa’s case, Mutasa preferred to call upon the unsuspecting and newly-appointed co-minister of Home Affairs, Theresa Makone. It is ironic that the first option for Mutasa would have been to engage co-minister Kembo Mohadi. The state media, which is normally supportive and protective of party members, surprisingly attacked Mutasa.
This seemed to confirm a mechanised approach by Zanu PF in Mliswa’s case and the subsequent intervention of Mutasa. This case goes much deeper than it would seem on the surface. I am sure we will see it fully unfold to fill the crevices of political intrigue surrounding the abrupt offloading of Mutasa by the party.
However, as we grapple with the Mliswa case, we remain open to the possibility of a revolution that could be swallowing one of its own.
l Trevor Maisiri is the executive director of the African Reform Institute — a political “think-tank” based in Harare