Embattled former ZANU-PF leaders face a cold spell outside of the ruling party, should they be expelled after spending nearly their entire lives in the party.
The prospect of starting all over again, given the lengthy time many of the former party leaders have spent in ZANU-PF is chilling. Even more depressing is the prospect of them leading an opposition against the same organisation which they helped to build.
Those who have dared try to challenge the status quo such as Dumiso Dabengwa, Simba Makoni and Margaret Dongo, have been unable to make even a chink in ZANU-PF’s armour. Despite their spirited attempts to oust ZANU-PF from power, the revolutionary party has remained the most dominant political force in the country.
Dabengwa, Makoni and Dongo might soon have compant outside ZANU-PF. The axe now appears ready to be swung on Didymus Mutasa, the former ZANU-PF secretary for administration whose fate now lies in the hands of a six-member committee formed at a Politburo meeting held last week. The committee was given the mandate to conduct a disciplinary process over him.
Political observers intimate that the disciplinary process was nothing more than window-dressing, with the outcome fait accompli that he would be shown the exit door in the very near future. Mutasa’s looming departure would be the second most high profile expulsion of a senior ranking ZANU-PF official after Rugare Gumbo, who suffered a similar fate last December when he was expelled from the party.
But ZANU-PF’s long political history is littered with cases of top serving lieutenants either being disgraced or shown the exit door unceremoniously. The Financial Gazette this week takes a look at a few ZANU-PF leaders who fell out of favour and at one stage or the other found themselves out in the cold.
Jonathan Moyo. Current Information Minister, Moyo, was fired from his government post in 2004 via a fax sent to him by President Robert Mugabe. His unceremonious departure from government and subsequent expulsion from ZANU-PF, which he, at the time, was credited with saving from the brink of collapse, given the rising popularity of the Movement for Democratic Change at the turn of the millennium, was linked to his involvement in the Tsholotsho meeting of 2004.
The Tsholotsho meeting was aimed at blocking the rise of Joice Mujuru to the position of vice president during ZANU-PF’s elective congress held during the same year. Expelled from ZANU-PF, Moyo opted to stand as an independent candidate and went on to win his Tsholotsho in the successive polls held in 2005 and 2008. His re-admission into ZANU-PF at its congress in December 2009 was seen by political observers as a thank you gesture by President Mugabe for saving his party from the jaws of defeat at the hands of the MDC-T. Looking over his shoulder at the years he spent in the political wilderness Moyo summed it up aptly last year by pointing out that life outside ZANU-PF was cold. “They should take it from me. It’s horrible and miserable. They should take it from those who have been down the path. Such a move is unwise, misguided and indeed career threatening,” he said.
The late Edgar Tekere had a love-hate relationship with President Mugabe. A co-founder of ZANU-PF, Tekere was expelled from ZANU-PF twice in 1981 and in 2007. His reputation in the 1980s was built around casting himself as a corruption buster and Tekere was never one afraid of laying criticism even onto the ruling party and President Mugabe for his plans to establish a one party state. His expulsion in ZANU-PF led to the formation in the 1990s of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement party which participated in the polls the same year against President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF. The party lost against ZANU-PF.
Upon re-admission back into the ZANU-PF fold in 2005, the ruling party laid down a prerequisite that he could not hold a leadership position in the party for five years. The following year, Tekere declared his wish to contest for a senatorial seat — putting him at loggerheads with the ZANU-PF leadership which moved to block his candidacy. The release of his autobiography: A Lifetime of Struggle in 2007 stoked more ill-will as he claimed that he had personally aided in the rise of President Mugabe to ZANU-PF’s leadership. A controversial character, Tekere was seen as sympathetic to the MDC led by Tsvangirai and endorsed Makoni’s candidacy in the 2008 election for presidency.
Phillip Chiyangwa. “Tsivo” as the flamboyant businessman is popularly known in social networks and a nephew of President Mugabe, fell out of the veteran ruler’s good graces in 2006 — putting to the test the adage that “blood is thicker than water”. Chiyangwa was suspended from the ruling party in 2006 on allegations of espionage and selling state secrets to United States intelligence officials. Although he was found not guilty, he was only re-admitted into the party in 2011 and even then his return was carefully watched so as to block his meteoric rise, after once having been the Mashonaland West provincial chairman. Back in the fold, Chiyangwa has remained at the periphery of fast-paced political action. Two years ago, he contested to represent Chinhoyi constituency but lost the parliamentary seat to Peter Matarutse of the MDC-T. Chiyangwa’s defeat elicited President Mugabe’s mockery that even his money was not enough to make him win the elections and on the night the election results were announced, the flamboyant businessman is said to have been so crashed he went to bed with his shoes on.