HomeOpinion & AnalysisAn overdue apology from Jonathan Moyo

An overdue apology from Jonathan Moyo

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Cedric Steele

FORMER Cabinet minister and Zanu PF arch-propagandist, Jonathan Moyo, currently living in exile, was chief-architect of some of the most draconian and oppressive laws in the country. He has now decided it is time to apologise for some of his misdeeds.

Reaching out to anyone who will listen he apologised: “…for spearheading laws and policies that have been blamed for ruining the country”, and that he was “…sorry for laws enacted under my (his) watch”.

True to form, however, Moyo refuses to shoulder any blame for the many acts of barbarity that occurred while he was in government, oftentimes to people that were apprehended under the laws he helped to set up.

In trying to distance himself from all the intimidation, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, beatings and murders of perceived opponents of the late ex-President Robert Mugabe’s regime, he is behaving like Joseph Goebbels who feigned ignorance of Nazi atrocities.

The Public Order and Security Act (Posa) was introduced in 2002 by Zanu PF and amended in 2007 with Moyo being its chief architect. The law gave considerable powers to the police and was used against any conceived opposition to the government. Posa replaced to the Law and Order Maintenance Act (Loma), which was enacted by the brutal Rhodesian government in the 1960s and used extensively to control the civil unrest taking place in the country at that time. Loma in turn borrowed heavily from a similar law in South Africa which was a logical step since Rhodesia could accurately be described as “apartheid lite”  in all but name.

It is, indeed, a shameful stain on the country’s resume that a South African law, conceived for the sole purpose of oppressing Africans in that country could be reincarnated as Loma under Ian Smith, then Posa under Mugabe and now moonlighting as the Maintenance of Peace and Order (Mopa), under President Emmerson Mnangagwa. When the so-called liberators of a country not only fail to repeal oppressive laws but actually modify them to make them more effective against the people, you know that the struggle is not over.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was the other notable repressive piece of legislation introduced in 2002, again with Moyo’s fingerprints all over it. Even late Justice minister Eddison Zvobgo, who was chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee at the time, said: “I can say without any equivocation that this Bill, in its original form, was the most calculated and determined assault on our liberties guaranteed by the Constitution in the 20 years I served as a Cabinet minister.”

By the end of 2002, Moyo was one of the most “hated” man in the country and also, paradoxically, the darling of the ruling Zanu PF party.

It seems like a lifetime but some of us are old enough to remember when Professor Moyo was an outspoken critic of Zanu PF and its leadership. At that time, he often articulated what a sizeable majority of Zimbabweans felt, which is why it was such a shock when he became a Zanu PF spokesperson and then Information and Publicity minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet in 2000.

Well, if we had known then what we know now it would have been obvious because this was the unveiling of who he really is, a ruthless, Machiavellian character, who will do just about anything to acquire and retain power.

It was probably these exact traits that Mugabe found irresistible and thus culminated in their on-off-on-again “bromance” for two decades. Theirs was a relationship that could only have been consummated in hell. This was politics at its most horrid.

Flying high among the party ranks, Moyo fancied himself as a “kingmaker” and with the help of some party bigwigs, including Patrick Chinamasa and Joseph Chinotimba, planned to throw their weight behind Mnangagwa to vie for one of the two VP seats vacated by Simon Muzenda on September 20, 2003 on his death.

This was seen as the best route to the presidency in light of Mugabe’s expected retirement in 2008. The plan failed and Joice Mujuru was elevated to Vice-President.

All the conspirators were subjected to some form of censure, including Moyo, who appeared to be singled out as the plot instigator. As part of his punishment, he was forbidden to run as the party’s candidate for the Tsholotsho North constituency in the general election of the same year.

He felt he had been thrown under the bus by the others, who were just as complicity but didn’t receive the same harsh rebuke and punishment. He was particularly aggrieved by the actions of Mnangagwa who, as the intended beneficiary of the ill-fated assignation, did very little to nothing to support him. This was to be the beginning of a long-term animosity between the two politicians that would eventually come to a head with dire consequences.

In complete defiance of Mugabe’s directive that he should not contest the Tsholotsho North parliamentary seat, Moyo did the exact opposite and stood as an independent and won.

He was then expelled from the party and once again became a fierce and outspoken critic of the government. Moyo by that time had become as loathed by the ruling party as he was by just about everyone else.

The mercurial Moyo went on to retain his seat in the subsequent general election in 2008. This too had some drama attached to it. Moyo knew he would beat any Zanu PF prospective contestant, but perhaps not so with a strong MDC candidate. Under the guise of “your enemy’s enemy is your friend”, he forged an alliance with the MDC so that they would not split the vote by having a candidate for the seat from both sides.

This would have been a strategically advantageous move except for the fact that the MDC was dealing with probably the most duplicitous man in the history of the young republic. No sooner had the election been called that Moyo started badmouthing MDC, reneging on the understanding that they would stand together in a bid to overthrow Mugabe and his party.

By around 2009, it was clear that Moyo was auditioning to rejoin Zanu PF. This did not go unnoticed by Mugabe who by then had come to terms with the fact that he was surrounded by deadwood and sycophants lacking any intellectual capacity or propensity to at least have ideas that could be construed as a realistic political agenda.

In the general election of 2013, Moyo was defeated in Tsholotsho North by the MDC-T’s Roseline Nkomo. Despite his loss, Mugabe appointed him Information minister that same year. Moyo would later recount his time as a ruling party exile by saying something to the effect that “it’s cold outside Zanu PF”.

This is such a revealing statement as it is fitting testament to the sad situation in a country which is governed to benefit only the minority that is connected to the ruling party.

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