HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsThe invisible line between trust and mistrust

The invisible line between trust and mistrust


Somebody had to say it, and Mutumwa Mawere did so this week.

Jonathan Moyo has bounded and rebounded from one stance to another in his much-travelled but relatively short political career as to defy label for what he really stands for.

He seems to constantly redefine and reinvent himself. He has made many friends but, some say, even more enemies along the way. He has fallen, risen, fallen, risen . . .

Let’s start by being generous by suggesting that his shifting and contradictory modus operandi is merely due to the fact that he is a master at the game of playing the Devil’s advocate.

In common parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of argument.

In taking such position, the individual taking on the devil’s advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process.

The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position.

Maybe Moyo does this in the spirit of infusing robust debate in society, but at times his arguments and tone seem merely semantic.

The basic purpose of writing is not to show how clever you are (like his doppelganger [his double] Nathaniel Manheru, whom he famously fell out with, does), but to inform, educate and entertain.

There comes a time to stop intellectualising and start implementing effective policies to turn around Zimbabwe politically and socio-economically.

Most of the issues we face today have solutions that are reducible to common sense.

Let’s then be less generous by suggesting that he is being used as a stalking horse.

The term is derived from a horse trained to conceal the hunter while stalking. Now it’s used in common parlance in reference to something used to cover one’s true purpose, a decoy; such as a sham candidate put forward to conceal the candidacy of another or divide the opposition, within or outside the party.

President Robert Mugabe accused Moyo of being the brains behind the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration of 2005 involving leading Zanu PF members, including Moyo himself, which Mugabe hinted was a boardroom plot to remove him.

As a result, Moyo and others who were at that meeting were axed from senior party and government posts but Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa tearfully apologised and was forgiven.

The purported candidate they were pushing for, a Zanu PF heavyweight leading one of the two powerful factions in the party and who is reported to have long-standing presidential ambitions, was not at that meeting so he did not take any flak. In this case, decoys like Moyo were the fall guys.

At about the same time, Moyo had many confrontations with John Nkomo going to the extent of suing the latter for defamation. Harsh words were exchanged.

Observers were surprised by these ugly public spats in which a junior member was standing up to his senior in the party.

But then when Nkomo beat the man purportedly behind Moyo, the man who did not turn up at Tsholotsho, for the Zanu PF chairmanship, the stalking horse syndrome became clearer.

This also calls into question Jabulani Sibanda’s current conduct. Where does he derive his power and, crucially, impunity and immunity from?

He travels the length and breadth of the country preaching his gospel of violence in threatening language with the police merely bystanders.

Others who have indulged in such excesses are serving long terms in prison.

Yes, I have digressed but only to make the point that Sibanda could also be serving as a stalking horse. Is he using a borrowed voice?

It’s easy, very easy, to decode his intentions from his words and actions. He is very much an insider, like Moyo.

Moyo has emerged as the defender of everything the ruling class stands for having flirted with the then opposition MDC after standing as an independent candidate in 2008 in the aftermath of his fallout with Mugabe.

But then business mogul Mutumwa Mawere has fleshed out another dimension of Moyo. And I would settle for this above all else.

Earlier this week, Mutumwa Mawere, referring to Moyo, who has taken sides with Justice minister Chinamasa in Mawere’s ongoing battle to regain control of mining conglomerate SMM Holdings which was annexed by the state and has been run down by the government-appointed administrator, had this to say about Moyo:

“ . . . it is evident that Moyo cannot distinguish between personal and national issues because his DNA is more often powered by the belief that in every dispute there must be a political point to score.”

Such conduct should trouble every democrat in the land, everyone who is a democrat at heart.

Let’s make decisions on the grounds of merit, not politics alone.

This was after Moyo tried to tie the dire plight of SMM to the MDC.

But Mawere pointedly wrote: “The MDC was not in government when SMM was placed under the control of a state-appointed administrator whose appointment was done without the involvement of the courts.” He couldn’t have put it better.

He continued: “Equally important, Moyo . . . believes that the SMM is about an individual forgetting that many lives have been affected by the decisions and actions of various state actors, including him.”

Mawere earlier in the article wrote: “The issue of SMM is not personal. The company was a significant foreign currency worker as well as an important employer.”

Instead of scoring political points Moyo should express great worry about the state of SMM today in comparison to when it was under the effective control of Mawere. Jobs have disappeared and thousands of livelihoods going back decades have been ruined.

This is the same fate that befell ZBC under Moyo’s watch as Information minister.

To him, the general welfare of the people isn’t a factor worth considering so long as he ingratiates himself to the powers-that-be.

The same Moyo left ZBC on its knees despite its monopoly status in broadcasting through his misguided policies under a purported Pan-African banner; he antagonised and banned advertisers.

Anyone with the barest knowledge of the media knows that advertisements are the lifeblood of newspapers and radio and TV stations. Up to now, ZBC is still hobbling.

The same binary vision, two-track mind, tunnel vision, could be the driving force behind Moyo and his ilk’s lies about Roy Bennett and David Coltart having been Selous Scouts in the Rhodesian army.

He sees things in black and white. That is the problem of experts who become interested players and thus start from an a priori or entrenched position in the guise of academic discourse.

Their modus operandi is to dress lies in intellectual clothes to give them credibility and respectability exploiting, firstly, the fact that many people have the erroneous notion that whatever is published is the gospel truth; and, secondly, if a lie is repeated many times, it begins to assume a ring of truth.

So it’s not surprising that Moyo made a linkage between the SMM and the MDC even though Mawere was, at the time he acquired the conglomerate, believed to have clinched the deal because of the backing of Zanu PF heavyweights and his troubles only started after he fell out with them.

(I stand to be corrected on that because I don’t want to fall into Moyo’s trap of liberally dispensing wildly defamatory, mendacious statements.)

Moyo should take a leaf from retired Cuban president Fidel Castro who recently accused Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of anti-semitism, in a passionate defence of Israel’s right to exist.

Castro, a long-time critic of Israeli government policy, said Jews had been slandered and slaughtered for centuries whereas Muslims were not.

Castro criticised Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and urged Iran to acknowledge the “unique” history of anti-semitism and understand why Israelis feared for their existence.

The comments stung Iran’s president and proved awkward for Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, who reveres Castro and has forged close ties with Ahmadinejad.

This is the sort of frank, balanced assessment of a situation expected of those who would be experts.

True academics, like Castro, an academic in his own right, don’t tell people what they want to hear, but what they ought to hear.

Because if they do that, they would have crossed the invisible line between trust and mistrust.


Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading