Friday, 7 March 2008

March 2008: Nkosana Moyo’s second going!

March 2008: Nkosana Moyo’s second going!

There is a Shona proverb which says ever since the day the hyena learnt to run away from danger, how many of us have seen its carrion in the veld? It is a proverb which expiates cowardice, comfortably locating it within the human urge for self-preservation. As a proverb, it could only have come from a mature culture with a deep and compassionate grasp of the complexities of human response to given menaces, indeed a culture so tolerant and calculating enough to understand that while the foolhardy Spartans stand tall as daring, they vanished as a collective tragedy in foolhardiness.

Great civilisations know when to fight, and when to retreat. All this, the Shonas distilled into a proverb. Not so with the English. Far from being as succinct, the English needed a whole bard and a whole play - Shakespeare’s King Henry IV (Part One) - to explore what the Shonas so aphoristically compressed and captured. In that play, Falstaff embodies and dramatises fear as the better part of valour, even exploring to comic limits the ingenuity inspired by it.

Fastened to the British establishment

Many in this country will remember Nkosana Moyo, the physicist don, once unhappily with the University of Zimbabwe, then with Old Mutual, then with a Commonwealth venture capital — Kubatana I think it was called. After all these detours, he was invited to join the Zimbabwe Government as a full minister. Interestingly, the venture capital initiative played a critical role in the founding of the Daily News, in the process fastening the physicist to the British establishment. His appointment to Government spawned great expectations.

Alongside the likes of Jonathan Moyo, Joseph Made and others, he was part of a new crop of young cadres to whom the baton would pass. The beginnings of succession were unfolding, and all this against the hurly burly of the Third Chimurenga. The old were acknowledging the passage of time, the new accepting the burden of new responsibilities. All looked smooth, outside of course the clangour of the Third Chimurenga.

The man on Malilangwe

But something happened, something which by hindsight, was a clear precursor of things to come. Both Simba and Nkosana always carried etches of anxiety and discomfort. The Land question made them sit ill, clearly without ease, and with time, their energetic colleagues, principally Jonathan Moyo, Joseph Made and Chinamasa, became repeated pricks on the two men’s tender sides.

In every meeting at which land became the issue, the two would end up together, alone in one corner. They did not support the land reform programme. It made them extremely uncomfortable. But they knew they could not say so. So they resorted to hiding behind economic arguments to make their objections palatable and learned. But those opposed to them were determined and unrelenting, and many asked about their paternity. Nkosana obliged an answer.

He was not Zanu (PF), only a professional technocrat, he would tell the media. No, he was a professional who could associate with anyone, anything, a free spirit never to be hemmed/yoked into any organisation. Not many read this as future political trajectory for the two men, in British aided partnership. Today both speak of no parties and a national authority as a substitute for political formations.

Both promise those on the land, those resettled, will have their teeth "gnashing". It is quite interesting Simba Makoni says so, himself a beneficiary of land reforms. It is interesting Simba says so when his own Ibbotson Joseph is a multiple land owner whose efforts at acquiring more land in Matabeleland only relented after spirited resistance from the region.

Above all, it is interesting this man who is on the Board of Malilangwe Trust which controls nearly 50 000ha of land, sees nothing odd about it. It is a very white trust, one dedicated to rolling out endless pleasure to white hunters, amidst evident landlessness of the Chitsa community.

Running away from Third Chimurenga

Until one day Nkosana felt hemmed in enough, threatened even by the prospect of membership to Zanu (PF), its policies and deeds. He grew terrified, very terrified and overcome his mortal fear by obeying his instinct for a saving sprint. He took a sharp flight southward.

He ran, ran, ran the modern way until he overshot our border, only to stop with a loud screech on the hard surface of Johannesburg. Only then could he pause to recall and collect his senses. Immediately, he realised in his frenzied flight, he forgot to tender his resignation. With comparable speed, he wrote a resignation letter to President Mugabe, complaining that Government was not broad enough to encompass all shades of politics. Upon delivery, there was short disbelief which soon gave way to guffaws of laughter. Nkosana had vanished, resigning in mid-flight! The whole thing was humorous.

Back and forth

Much later, feeling snugly tucked under the burly hands of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Nkosana regained his breath and for the first time broke his silence. The terrible and awesome "thing" that got him into terrific flight was the Third Chimurenga and the daunting prospect of serving under it! From it, he ran away in absolute terror! He did time with IFC, his new employer.

But not long after, he was offloaded, an angry young man from Zimbabwe. He remembered home and its politics which averred the white man was no friend of a coloured underdog. He started communicating back, transmitting anger: Tell President Mugabe that he is right. Tell him to stand firm and unmoved. We are solidly behind him. Telescopically of course. The man had been hurt, badly hurt by the white world from whom he expected so much love.

Another British tentacle

Then we heard he was making errands in South Africa and back. Then we heard he was with Actis, a global venture capital company specialising in emerging markets, Africa included. But what was Actis? A baby of Tony Blair. One created from Blair’s decision to privatise CDC in order to turn it into an instrument of British influence and dominance in emerging markets.

His brief there was to manage relations, principally with governments. Summer of 2007, he was profiled by African Banker and, seemingly without realising he was making the point a good 18 years late, he regurgitated the World Bank’s 1989 thesis. Asked what he regarded as Africa’s problem, he answered: "Africa’s most pressing issue is governance.

Governance is the one thing which will unlock all of the other things that we are talking about . . . It comes down to governance". He could not have said otherwise. After all Tony Blair — his mentor — was a creature of the World Bank governance thesis. Very few in Zimbabwe read this affinity correctly, itself a loud harbinger to the political role Nkosana plays today, for the British and other western interests.

He brings to Zimbabwean politics British political interests, only corporatized. Apart from Actis, he frontloads Citibank the world’s largest bank. He frontloads SABMiller, the world’s largest brewer, with interests in our local Delta. Need we wonder that Robby Mupawose is part of this? And many other business people I will have occasion to name?

Newton’s First Law

It is official. He has done it again! Nkosana has again deserted. He is back in the United Kingdom, scared by what has become of his project here. Before then, Nkosana was here, albeit unobtrusively. He has been reading feedback ever since Simba Makoni — that British political dipstick — took the plunge into the deep end. With each errand Simba made — whether in town or in the countryside — the point was brought impeccably home, to this our nimble physicist.

Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion was being re-enacted, this time with vengeful frequency. Britain’s political body which he had helped plant on our earth would not move. It remained in its state of rest, with no force apparently in sight to break its sitting inertia. He learnt — rather disappointingly — that expectations, however strong, would never be that force that would compel the British political project here to even stir.

He saw Makoni’s political misadventure in rural Mashonaland East which is thought to be the stronghold of his immediate godfathers within Zanu (PF). Makoni had to cancel fixtures. He came back empty-handed. It was cold out there. Then came Bulawayo and Harare, very soon after. Both were a yawn. The message hit home and Nkosana was ready for a second going.

His parting whimper was clear enough: things are not working; the project needs a new strategy and more money. Have we not seen the last of him? Has he not sent in his resignation again?

Bizarre tenders, all between two

Gentle reader, put accent on "more money". In that kind of environment of panic, you do not sweat for information. It comes so easily. Things are not good for Makoni and his handlers. There is uncertainty. Politically, uncertainty expresses itself as pillage of campaign resources.

The centre can no longer hold. Tenders for campaign material running into trillions — some of it quoted in US dollars — are being floated. Nothing unusual. Bids are being made. Again, nothing unusual. There is adjudication. Still nothing unusual. Results are got, hey got! The horror, the horror! The person who invites tenders, emerges as the bidder, the adjudicator and yes, the winner and therefore approved supplier.

Gentle reader, money is being cracked and eaten, much like tiger nuts! And the other fella wants no one near the pot. He is quoting himself in US dollars to supply T/shirts to himself. Goodness me! Lose the politics but get the money, that is the slogan!

Giles’ testimony

Giles Mutsekwa of MDC Tsvangirai has no kind words for Simba and his choice of Dumiso Dabengwa. Simba thinks he has a person (in Dumiso)(?), the ex-Rhodesian soldier asks with a knowing look. He shall see, he adds so ominously to a nomination crowd which cannot make head or tail of what is coming from his hard-knuckled head. What Simba does not know is that we were with Dumiso when we formed ZUM with Tekere, Giles proceeds, gently shaking his head with recalled outrage.

He played along, played along until on the launch and announcement day. Dumiso simply vanished, only to reappear in Bulawayo, very far away, so safe. But give it to Dumiso. This time around he has gone a little farther. But which milestone will get him to vanish yet again? The Nkosana act could very easily get the whole herd to panic. Especially if Dumiso’s not-so-intelligent trick of be-splattering Chinamasa does not deliver. The tone of his interviews does not suggest conviction; it suggests a resigned sense of betrayal hiding behind flimsy self-justification. Let us dedicate this week to weighing his chances, verily with an even hand.

Opening a snuff box

Dumiso has opened a snuff box with a broken lid. And this on a wintry day. There will be lots of sneezing, lots of weeping eyes. He has killed sleep and that vengeful anger all along trapped by an unwritten pact of respectful silence to which all combatants are sworn to, now stands ready to detonate.

The fuse is short, very short and we have already started getting little explosions leading to a very big one. Anyone in the Second Chimurenga will tell you a lot happened during the struggle. Unsavoury things that left many matters unresolved to this day. In a way, these matters shape contemporary politics. All along, Dabengwa has been positioning himself as a claimant to leadership of Matabeleland, after mudhara Msika. This is why the old man’s health and promise of retirement excites the dovecot.

But Dabengwa is not unchallenged. He faces a furious contest. First you have former fighters. They argue the man was in intelligence. He was not a soldier. How does he justify this monument the media has built around him? How does he become the "Zipra Supremo" when he was in intelligence? Wartime commanders of Zipra have been smarting, but have all along been restrained.

Some carry very ugly bruises from past unfairness. Cadres who pioneered the struggle but who found themselves on diplomatic postings on the eve of critical promotions. Especially after the tragic death of Nikita Mangena.

In on Zanla ticket

It is a very sore point and now the pent up anger has found a legitimate outlet. The unfairness did not end there. Back home, during the integration process, some very senior and battle-hardened Zipra cadres were sidelined in the selection process, a good number of them getting into the army on Zanla ticket.

Dumiso preferred his colleagues in intelligence to whom he pasted ranks for integration. It hurt. Still more happened. During land reforms, very senior army officers could not access land in preferred regions because of the leadership’s baffling love for white farmers they strained to protect ahead of needy fellow comrades. A good many of them ended up securing land in other regions, facilitated by persons who never commanded them during the struggle. It is a sore point, very sore.

Umuntu wamakhiwa?

As if that is not bad enough, Dabengwa starts slighting bona fide war veterans, calling them refugees and turncoats. Up to now, Jabulani Sibanda, the butt of such attacks, has not spoken. But his silence is loud enough. It asks: now who is fake? He is not alone.

Old man Naison K. Ndlovu has proffered a devastating answer. Calling Dumiso’s father — George — umuntu wamakhiwa, he avers betrayal runs in the genes. Being a small boy, I cannot say what the truth is, but I found it most interesting that Dabengwa has not addressed this allegation even though he is everywhere in the papers. It cannot bode well for him and Makoni.

The great betrayal

John Nkomo has reacted in the most uncharacteristic way. Let me hasten to point out that the Makoni project fed fat from silence. It is destroyed by responses. These remove the brooding silence within which the lie about silent partners within Zanu (PF) flourished. Nkomo, a serious contender for leadership has come out, all cylinders firing. Dumiso is described as an "infiltrator", quite a strong word, made all the more hurtful by the role the man played during the struggle.

Mudhara Msika has already responded and is set to say more, set to say very harsh things. He is understandably angry. Only on the Friday before Dabengwa came out of the closet, he had distanced the leadership of Matabeleland from the Makoni thing. That included Dabengwa. A day later, Dabengwa humiliates the old man by joining Makoni, claiming he never got time to tell the old man he had decided to change his mind.

Except he suggests his decision to challenge the President traces as far back as the signing of the Unity Accord which he viewed as a capitulation. From 1987 he never found time? Or was that meant to suggest the old man was part of the scheme, only unnerved at last minute? You cannot wrong mudhara Msika any worse than that.

Cain, Rex and Dumiso

What is worse, the Matabeleland leadership has now come out solidly in defence of the Unity Accord. Dabengwa is seen as a threat to that unity. In the words of Cain Mathema, he is "a tribalist". Many think he is. Now, Mathema is especially significant. Governor Mathema and General Mujuru were in the same group that went for guerrilla training about 1968/9. Both started in Zipra.

Both wind up as Zanla. Cain makes a simple point to Dabengwa: when Rex comes in, you stand at attention the way you never do with me. Both he and I trained at the same time and later joined Zanla. What is the difference? It is the same sort of question of seniority which Obert Mpofu and John Nkomo raise against Dabengwa, the same question Ambrose Mutinhiri who is already a trained cadre as far back as 1964 legitimately raises. Emboldened by what they see as a blatant defection and betrayal of values and ideals of the struggle, they will be more strident.

On the wrong side of history

Reading his interviews, it is clear Dumiso does not have a good line at all. He says he differed with the President over the Unity Accord, the Land Question and exploitation of Marange Diamonds. He left out the Leadership Code and ESAP which together with the late Eddison Zvobgo, he pushed with such determination, almost making both a test of the validity of the Unity Accord.

Now, how does one build a case for leadership renewal on all these points? On all these matters the President is on formidable ground. It is true that as Home Affairs Minister, he wanted war veterans occupation of land stopped through police action.

Only police command stopped what could have been a bloody deployment against those pushing for the attainment of a core objective of the struggle. Upon his arrival from Cuba, the President vindicated the stance of the command.

The Unity Accord was negotiated away from Dabengwa. Everyone, including the late Vice President Nkomo knew he stood opposed to the pact, although he did not mind its spoils, or using it to leverage concessions from Zanu (PF). The Marange Diamond claims clearly expose Dabengwa for what N.K. Ndlovu say he is: a lover of whites and their interests. ACR combines British interests.

It is very close to the British establishment. It quietly mined diamonds before anyone knew they existed in Marange. It secretly shipped them out, apparently with the connivance of high ranking party officials who were part of it. Once Government got to know about it, the deal was stopped, which is what riled the likes of Dabengwa. He would rather we had fed the British! What a grievance!

Then you have the swelling waters of the mighty Zambezi, in the form of the water project. Bad things are being said there, warranting a full-blown investigation and audit. The Financial Gazette thinks Zanu (PF) does not know how to handle Dabengwa.

I do not know which world these desktop journalists inhabit. Out there the slogans are loud and ringing. It is "Pasi naDumiso." Mr. Editor, the die is cast, long cast. Out there, Dumiso has forfeited his claim to the legacy of Joshua Nkomo. The President said as much in Jerera.

Out there, the likes of John Nkomo, Obert Mpofu, Ambrose Mutinhiri and others are reasserting their authority. Yes, out there, the war veterans feel vindicated, reminding themselves that they were the first to reject this man’s politics, right back in 1998 as they agitated for gratuities. In the meantime, the man is so snowed under by the consequences of his decision that he cannot canvass for even his own vote. Agarira nhanzva. Icho! —

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