Emmerson Mnangagwa : the primitive clansman and the villagisation of politics

This is the brave, digital 21st century but in Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe finds herself saddled with an analogue politician still pursuing the primitive politics of tribalism, regionalism, cronyism and villagism----an archaic politics synonymous with the Stone age era of the Munhumutapa empire.

This instalment seeks to show that Mnangagwa is a simple village clansman favoured with State power who has systematically brought in a mainly Karanga and Midlands clique that has now been purposely deployed or retained in strategic party and State institutions as part of the regional and tribal politics of our so-called new dispensation..

It’s a sad tale of Zuze comes to town, the story of the primitive commoner who brings his all to the city. In our case, Mnangagwa has brought his relatives and cronies to the cradle and citadel of national power so they can share with him his privileged but stolen hour in the sun.

Mugabe did it. His sister Sabina’s sons Leo and Robert were variously deployed to strategic institutions while Patrick Zhuwao was a Cabinet Minister in his uncle’s final hour. Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, was deployed to head Air Zimbabwe while Mugabe’s other son-in-law, Sydney Gata, husband to his sister Regina, was in charge at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, the country’s power utility. Others from the Mugabe family were seconded as executives to quasi-State institutions such as the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board and the Zimbabwe National Road Authority while Innocent Matibiri was the second-in command at the Zimbabwe Republic Police. At the time of his ouster from politics, Mugabe’s wife, Grace, was the Zanu-PF women’s league boss and was fancying higher options in the event of her husband’s demise.

This naked nepotism and cronyism was rampant under Mugabe and Mnangagwa claimed his so-called new dispensation was a break from this past—a dark and insidious past characterised by unadulterated clan and village politics.

Only Mnangagwa’s promise was a blatant lie. He has in fact entrenched the culture of tribalism and cronyism.

In Mnangagwa’s case, it has been a sordid, systematic plot to use acolytes, tribesmen and cronies to take over arms and institutions of the State. We are in an equally insidious, so-called Second Republic in which Mnangagwa’s clansmen and tribesmen, nieces and nephews, friends and associates have all been strategically placed across a vast array of State and quasi-State institutions to protect and entrench narrow personal and clique interests.

Tribesmen, totem-mates, Karangas in general as well as Midlanders from his adopted home province have been deployed, jointly and severally, to strategic spaces in both party and government.

It all starts right from his village. While the Midlands is Mnangagwa’s adopted home province where he pursues his farming and mining interests, the man was born in the Mangwana area of Chivi in Masvingo province. It is no wonder therefore that Paul Mangwana, a fellow villager and close associate, is the Zanu PF secretary for Legal Affairs while the brother, Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana, was brought in from the UK to become the chief government spokesperson in his capacity as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services.

Upon his appointment as Vice President, Mnangagwa bequeathed his Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe parliamentary seat o his wife Auxilia while his son Tongai is currently the MP for Harare South. Talk of the petty politics of family.

Others have derisively referred to Mnangagwa’s government as Moyo , Sibanda and Associates, given the intricate filial, totemic and tribal links of the key characters in the State.

The Sibandas are part of Mnangagwa’s family. It is no wonder therefore that upon Constantino Chiwenga’s appointment as Vice President, Mnangagwa appointed his cousin Phillip Valerio Sibanda as commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. With a member of the family now in charge of the county’s armed services, Sibanda’s appointment could be regarded as having been an overt case of coup-proofing in case the army got excited again as they had been in November 2017. With a family member now in charge of the country’s armoury, any fears of yet another coup in the immediate to short term might have been sufficiently allayed. And since the Sibandas are Mnangagwa’s cousins, it must come as no surprise therefore that Misheck Sibanda was retained as the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, even after the ouster of the former President in November 2017. This strategic post has been retained in the family.

The Rushwayas are Mnangagwa’s relatives and Martin Rushwaya is currently the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet responsible for administration and finance. The same Rushwaya, is a close relation to Henriettta Rushwaya and Helliet Rushwaya. Helliet is the chief executive officer at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation while Henriettta is the lady arrested at the airport with 6 kilograms of gold while in the company of a team of Mnangagwa’s personal bodyguards that included Stephen Tserayi. Henriettta is back at work at the Zimbabwe mining federation, despite facing serious charges that expose the massive leakages in the country’s extractive industry.

Dear reader, I hope its all making sense now.

Mnangagwa’s mother is a MaMoyo and the Moyo’s are his maternal uncle’s. Obediah Moyo, a maternal uncle, was appointed Minister of Health and Child Welfare in the early days of the current administration but was later suspended from government following his arrest on corruption charges that are still pending. Isaac Moyo, yet another maternal uncle of Mnangagwa, was recalled from South Africa where he was serving as the country’s ambassador. He is now the head of the Central Intelligence Organisation while Elson Moyo, yet another maternal uncle, took over from the late Perrence Shiri and is now the head of the Air Force of Zimbabwe. In the Ministry of Agriculture, Shiri was replaced by yet another Mnangagwa ally and clansman, Dr Anxious Masuka. All of ED’s anxiety in the agriculture sector may have now been quashed as the highly political Pfumvudza programme is firmly in the hands of a Lscoste factional it and not a disciple of the gun faction.

And still on the Moyos: July Moyo, for long the Lacoste factions chief strategist, is the Minister of Local Government. Sibusiso Buso Moyo was also an uncle but being a soldier, his allegiance was more to Constantino Chiwenga and this may yet explain a lot of imppnserables, maybe including why he is not with us today.

Prominent lawyer Edwin Manikai idfrom Chivi as well and his mother is a Mamoyo . In fact, insiders say his mother and Mnangagwa’s mother are siblings. In case one may wonder why today Edwin Manikai is the chair of the Presidential Advisory Council. True, cousins and brothers have always advised each other—only this time we have institutionalised the brotherly advice!

Mnangagwa has always had political interests in Kwekwe, where he “discovered” Owen Muda Ncube, who began as a mushurigwi, a machete-wielding mining thug representing Mnangagwa’s mining interests in the town. Today, ED has brought his mukorokoza into government as the Minister of State Security.

They say fate is a capricious woman. By dint of mother fate and his strong political connection to the man now in charge, Muda has calcified and evolved from a machete-wielding thug dealing with the security disparate and miniscule gold “points” into a besuited Cabinet Minister responsible for the Security of an entire country!

Josiah Dunhira Hungwe, yet another Chivi homeboy, was always a close ally of Emmerson Mnangagwa since the heady days of Eddisom Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo. Today, Vincent Hungwe, Mnangagwa’s Chivi homeboy, from the Vuranda area, is the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, responsible for the entire civil service of Zimbabwe. Other Karanga homeboys in Cabinet include Mines Minister Winston Chitando from Gutu Central and Professor Amon Murwira from Nzuwa village in the same Gutu area. Another Karanga from Zvishavane and a long-time ally of Mnangagwa is the infamous Willowgate criminal, Frederick Shava. Cabinet meetings may yet begin to look like clan or tribal meetings. I am not talking about Ziyambi Ziyambi and Kindness Paradza, fellow Karangas who are now serving as Minister and deputy Minister respectively. That they transact their politics in other provinces may yet cloud the tribal and factional nature of their appointments.

In the party’s key Commissariat Department, after Engelbert Rugeje, a soldier and a fellow Karanga from Masvingo, began to show leanings towards the military faction of the party, Mnangagwa was quick to slot in yet another Karanga and a Midlander from Gokwe, one Victor Matemadanda. Indeed, for the time being, ED fancies himself the Victor in the battle for the control of the soul of the party, which is the party’s Commissariat department that is in charge of all party structures.

Perhaps, dear reader, its now all making sense.

Douglas Munatsi is yet another of Mnangagwa’s cronies, representing a vast array of the dear leader’s financial and commercial interests. Munatsi, appointed chairperson of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency, is fingered as having been part of the team that used its financial muscle to capture both The Financial Gazette and The Daily News that are now parroting the views of the State. It was during the capture of this stable that former Daily News editor Stan Gama unceremoniously left the newspaper as more pliable people were put at the helm to protect narrow political interests.

At a personal level, I am greatly pained by the blatant capture of the two newspapers, The Daily News and The Financial Gazette having served as news editor at both newspapers during the era of audacious journalism when the independent press was truly independent of the political interests of the ruling elite. I miss our golden time in the media when we used the vocation of journalism to make government accountable and not to shamelessly parrot the ruling elite’s selfish interests.

Kwekwe and Shurugwi are home to some of Mnangagwa’s business and Karanga associates. Kuda Tagwireyi, the de facto Prime Minister of our land and business magnate whose finger is in every pie of the State, has his roots in Mulauzi village under chief Nhema in Shurugwi. Tagwireyi is not only a tribesmen of the dear leader but the beloved acolyte with the licence to dabble in every lucrative deal or enterprise within the State, from fuel to bus procurement and fertilisers. He is the main man and he is the human embodiment of the phenomenon of State capture in Zimbabwe.

Larry Mavima, a strong Mnangagwa ally and a Karanga from Zvishavane, is the Midlands Minister of Provincial Affairs. It is always tragic when presumed national leaders descend from the lofty heights of true nationalists in the mould of the great Joshua Nkomo to the plumbing depths of tribalism, regionalism and villagism, Notwithstanding his roots in the Chivi area in Masvingo province, iMnangagwa now fancies himself a Midlander and even the recent defections had a regional tilt to them. Blessing Chebundo is from Kwekwe while my sister Lillian Timveos is from Zvishavane in the Midlands province. It depicts the sheer poverty of Mnangagwa’s politics that even the much vaunted defections have failed to rise above the very limited regional precincts that have always defined the pettiness of his politics.

Mnangagwa has deliberately “exported” his Karanga allies to other provinces on party and/or government mission. He may claim he has always transacted his politics in Harare but Harare’s provincial affairs minister, Oliver Chidhawu, is Mnangagwa’s Karanga tribal ally. Monica Mavhunga, the minister of Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland province may have been married in her province of service but has her roots in Mnangagwa’s home province while Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Themba Mliswa’s sister, is the Minister of Provincial Affairs in Mashonaland West. Mary is originally from Mliswa village in the Gamwa section, Shamba circuit in ward 5 of Shurugwi South. Themba and ED are of the Shumba totem and Mary’s deployment begins to make sense from the perspective of her roots in Shurugwi and the totemic connection. It is strongly believed within Zanu-PF circles that the late Joel Biggie Matiza, who was Transport Minister and Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, was a Karanga with roots in Masvingo. Those in the know say being Karanga is a key decision factor in Mnangagwa’s cheap tribal politics and he has deployed his tribesmen, clansmen and clanswomen to go and lead the party and government on other provinces.

In the brave digital age of twitter and Instagram, we have a simple clansman and tribesman masquerading as a civilised Head of State of a modern State.

Other Mnangagwa acolytes are neither Midlanders nor Karangas from Masvingo but remain key political factional allies in a protracted political journey travelled together while fendihg off political challengers in the sewer ponds that constitute Zanu PF politics. Mike Madiro, the Msnicaland Zanu-PF provincial chairman recently appointed deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development fits into this category. Madiro was the Msnicaland provincial chairman in 2004 and travelled to Tsholotsho to do Mnangagwa’s bidding at the ill-fated Dinyane meeting where Mnangagwa failed to gatecrash into the presidium as Vice President. Madiro’s recent appointment is a reward for a long journey travelled together. Another provincial chair who also went to the same ill-fated meeting 17 years ago to root for Mnangagwa was Jacob Mudenda, then the provincial chairperson for Matabeleland North province. Mudenda has been allowed to retain his position as Speaker of Parliament to represent the enduring Lacoste interests in the August House! More than anything, the retention of the Speakership is the due reward for an unstinting loyalty.

George Charamba is now the Deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet. He was also retained as Presidential spokesperson. I have written in a previous instalment that Charanba has always been a key Mnangagwa ally. At the ill-fated Tsholotsho meeting in 2004, it was Charamba, as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, who abused government funds to pay for the helicopter that carried the Zanu PF provincial chairpersons to the meeting in Tsholotsho. Charamba paid Z$ 9 780 750 for the helicopter and even secured clearance for it. Charamba also wrote Mnangagwa’s Tsholotsho speech, which was eventually delivered by Patrick Chinamasa . yet another ED ally, on Thursday 18 November 2004. Chinamasa is one of Mnangagwa’s allies who is drawing a salary and perks equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister. Chinamasa is representing Mnangagwa’s political interests at party headquarters, together with Obert Mpofu, the party’s secretary for administration. Mpofu is a key Mnangagwa ally in the industry of nefarious deals. Mnangagwa was the Minister of Defence at the time the army got involved in diamond mining while Obert Mpofu was Mines Minister. The two may have some knowledge on the reported $15 billon diamond heist that has not been properly explained. Mnangagwa has a history of plundering minerals. His name is specifically mentioned in a United Nations report S/2002/1146 as having been part of the elite network that plundered mineral resources in the DRC.

Contrary to propaganda that has repeatedly been parroted, it is none other than Emmerson Mnangagwa who has proved to be a front for white capital interests. The late John Arnold Bredenkamp, Ahmed Said Thamer al Shanfari and other shadowy white capitalists have been Mnangagwa’s key business associates over the years. Mnangagwa is currently mired in a scandal in which he has decided to displace a minority tribe in Chilonga so that his friend, Kwekwe businessman Neville Coetzee can grow lucerne grass for his dairy cows. For Mnangagwa, the white man’s grass is more important than his fellow citizens!

In short, Mnangagwa’s tribesmen, clansmen and elite cronies are now firmly embedded in the upper echelons of the vast labyrinth of party and State power , representing mainly the parochial political and avaricious interests of a small, factional cabal.

During the Mugabe era, Mnangagwa was certainly biding his time, strenuously working for the moment to foist his own tribesmen and clansmen on the entire body politic. The evidence of the human resource spread across party and government shows that he may have achieved his mission in this regard, not to mention the deliberate appointments he has made in the police force and the brigadiers general he has appointed to fractionally and tribally tame a stubborn military. Thabani Vusa Mpofu, a Midlander and a presumed Mnangagwa relative, is now in charge of the Special Anti Corruption Unit in the President’s Office. Ironically, it is his own appointment that may yet be the special case of corruption and cronyism deserving of a thorough investigation!

All these years as Mnangagwa fought by fair and foul means to achieve the Presidency, he was working only for an opportunity to bring in his cronies, regional and tribal associates. He was waiting for his time to bring his own retinue of close associates, kinsmen, kinswomen, cousins and nieces to the dining table so that they could all jointly and severally plunder the country‚Äôs resources. In the words of musician Leonard Karikoga Zhakata, the acolytes have all been called in to enjoy the honeycomb. They have all been called up to dinner at the poor taxpayer’s expense:

Dai ndaive ini ndigere paye,

Deno ndaive ini ndiripo paye,

Ndairidza huwi ndodaidzira vamwe vangu,

Kuno kwaita dopiro akomana,

Huyai mose , huyai tinomobore,

Now that the clansman has attained State power, the fellow tribesmen and tribeswomen are today gathered at the dinner table, voraciously partaking to the national honeycomb. The nation may bark, as I am currently doing through this epistle, but the tribesmen and the cronies are quietly enjoying their pilfered meal, in strict conformity to the dictates of prudent table manners that exhort silence during the eating hour!

But for how long will this last? Only time will tell.

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa . He can be contacted on his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo

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