VETERAN journalist Geoffrey Nyarota last week officially launched his second book — The Graceless Fall of Robert Mugabe: The End of a Dictator’s Reign — published by Penguin in August 2018.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The new title was launched at a colourful ceremony at the Royal Harare Golf Club on Thursday evening.
Nyarota told guests at the launch that his new book recounts his own version of the events that culminated in the downfall of Mugabe after 38 years at the helm.
He said the narrative was a construction of events based on his observation of political events throughout that period, from his privileged position as a journalist and newspaper editor.
“This is my version of events. This is the Nyarota version of events, which I am more than entitled to place before you, my countrymen, from my position as editor of five newspapers,” he said.
“It is unlikely that you will all agree with my views as you turn from page to page because some of you have your own views of the events in question. Some of you may not even have any views, but once you read mine, if you feel obliged to disagree or to agree, so let it be.”
With reference to Chapter 7 of the book, Mujuru’s Death: Accident or Assassination, he said some readers would not share his view that there was no evidence to sustain the various stories published in the newspapers suggesting that the then President had arranged the assassination of the former Defence Forces Commander.
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Mujuru died in a mysterious inferno in the middle of the night at his Beatrice farmhouse south of Harare in August 2011.
“I am not in any way exonerating then President Mugabe in the face of many accusations that he was responsible for causing Mujuru’s death,” Nyarota said. “My point is that, while there were many allegations against Mugabe, they were mostly based on speculation, suspicion or supposition. But such accusations should only be based, in my view, on copper-bottom evidence.”
The author rose to fame in 1988 after he broke the infamous Willowgate Scandal exposing corruption by Cabinet ministers, prompting Mugabe, to appoint the Wilson Sandura Commission of Inquiry. The exposed ministers and a provincial governor were forced to resign from office. One minister, the late Maurice Nyagumbo, who was close to the President, reportedly committed suicide.
During the launch, Nyarota recounted how he was summoned to State House by Mugabe in November 1988, as the then editor of The Chronicle in Bulawayo. He said at the end of the meeting attended by many news executives, the President had implored him not to publish fabrications about any of his ministers.
“I did not say so then, but it would have been hardly necessary to resort to fabrication when there were so many truths to publish about the many nefarious activities of the honourable ministers,” Nyarota said.
He saluted former Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe chief executive officer and former Mayor of Harare Muchadeyi Ashton Masunda, who was the guest of honour at the launch for his role as editor of both the new book as well the first, Against the Grain: Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Newsman.
Masunda recounted how the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC could not have won 57 out of 120 parliamentary seats in 2000 if it were not for The Daily News coverage of the opposition party.
In The Graceless Fall of Robert Mugabe, Nyarota recounts the rise and fall of Mugabe and traces the origins of the rifts which developed within Zanu PF as Mugabe side-lined anyone who might challenge his power, as well as the creation of opposing factions within his ruling party.
Nyarota has edited The Manica Post, The Chronicle, Financial Gazette, The Daily News and the online newspaper, The Zimbabwe Times, in a long and colourful career.