BY KENNETH MUFUKA
Brother Trevor Ncube, owner of the Alpha Media Holdings, bared his heart at a business conference in Durban, South Africa, recently.
The essence of the presentation was that when President Emmerson Mnangagwa orchestrated a coup against the tyrant Robert Mugabe in October 2017, he was one of those who believed that a new dispensation was around the corner.
— NewsDay Zimbabwe (@NewsDayZimbabwe) March 26, 2022
I have played the speech on my video four times and the arguments resonate with my experience. ED as the president is known, had served Mugabe for 40 years and knew all the secrets in the cabinet, including Gukurahundi. In addition, the economic blunders were not far to seek, nor were they implacable. Thirdly, it was assumed that a conciliatory approach to Zimbabwe politics (something like a unifying approach) might heal the wound left by the tyrant.
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Armed with that knowledge (or what is an assumption in good faith) Ncube returned home. An anecdotal piece is very interesting. Ncube had been in South Africa for almost 20 years, but had not taken out South African citizenship. Anybody who was born in Zimbabwe, black or white, though he may have a loathing for its leadership, loves the country and remembers the loving kindness of its people with nostalgia.
I too, lived and worked in the US for 20 years before I took out US citizenship.
This, I believe is a fair summary. But Ncube should not feel very bad about it. We were all taken by the Ngwena.
Ncube was not the only one fooled. I think those of us who were abroad were more deeply fooled than those who were inside. The half a million people who were bused from all over Zimbabwe to witness Mugabe’s departure were equally fooled just as much as we were.
But those of us in the Diaspora fell for it, hook, line and sinker because we wanted to go home, and we missed the smell of sadza and the scoldings of vatete [aunt].
I was in Zimbabwe in July 2017, four months before the coup. The customs official had warned me. “We know who you are, you Ken Mufuka. Keep your mouth shut. We want you to return safely to the US.”
I also remember that my big brother at SAPES was cynical about the chances of a leopard changing the colour of its coat.
I came back after the coup to launch my book entitled, Life and Times of Robert Mugabe: Dream Betrayed (2018). To my surprise, all of Mugabe’s “stalwarts” were still in their positions and breathing fire.
Take for instance George Charamba. He had served Mugabe for donkey years and breathed fire then, cursing out anybody who dared to disagree with public policy. The speaker of the House had been a Mugabe stalwart as well and so was Obert Mpofu.
We were as blind as a newborn baby.
If the signs of continuity were all around us, how then did good people like Trevor Ncube and I get bamboozled?
Though I was the least among the saints in Zapu, I had kept in touch with the remnants of Israel. My information is that when ED was in exile in South Africa, he had called on Dumiso Dabengwa to his secret hide-out. My sources in Zapu say that Dabengwa was promised an active role in the new government, some decisive role like that of prime minister.
This would have settled the main grievance in Matabeleland with one stone, Gukurahundi and water. Dabengwa was chairperson of the Zambezi Water Project and had been promised recompense for Gukurahundi.
Now, here is the real story. It appears that Morgan Tsvangirai, who was already sick and receiving treatment in South Africa, returned home to cheer the demise of the tyrant Mugabe. My information is hazy, but it appears that he too had been promised a “prominent role” in an inclusive government.
Another source, close to the media moguls, told me that the media moguls were promised television licences and an open society in which to practice their calling.
Lastly, there were Diaspora groups, particularly in the UK, and one in Birmingham, which were already experienced in raising investment capital. The Birmingham Group did land on Zimbabwean soil but has since moved to South with GBP400 million. The student groups had a plan to raise through Israeli like bonds of GBP1 000 on each investor. I was asked to find out the details in Zimbabwe, but failed to gain access to ED. I did, however, had a meeting with the director of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority at Rotten Row.
What went wrong?
Ncube is pessimistic about the immediate future and so am I. My reasoning is very simple. If Queen Jezebel’s daughter, Sister Thoko can jump from the MDC-Alliance one day, hop to Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC another day, return to the CCC, and still have an audience, we are doomed into slavery.
I blame Mugabe for building a political culture of utter shamelessness and spinelessness. In my book, Ncube is exonerated because we all wished ED well, and we so wanted to live in our own country.
My hero in all this, is Dzikamai Mavhaire. I owe him a goat. When I was embroiled in some shenanigans with late Foreign minister Stanley Mudenge at the Museum, leading to my permanent exile in (1984) Mavhaire is the only person who spoke on my behalf. Mavhaire has been consistent in arguing that “kutonga madzoro” (governing is by turns). The problem, according to Mavhaire is that ZanuPF has no leadership renewal apparatus. In 1991, Mavhaire had said in parliament; “Robert Mugabe must go!”
ED, like his mentor Robert Mugabe before him, had the whole world in the palm of his hand. Something went wrong somewhere. Ncube suggested that Mugabe did not accomplish the capture of the police and the judiciary. I think the difference is between six and half a dozen for all practical purposes.
My sympathy is with Ncube. There is a book entitled, Cruel Choices. Either one complies and has a chance to live in his own country, or one refuses to comply (which I did) and must remain in permanent exile.
- Mufuka is a Zimbabwe patriot. He writes from the US. His books are available from Innov8 Bookshops and from kenmufukabooks.com in the wider world.