HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s disdain for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has become too obvious to hide.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Moyo regularly fires pot shots at Mnangagwa on Twitter in what is believed to be part of the flux battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The former Zanu PF spin doctor took issue with Mnangagwa’s utterances to the effect that late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo was sympathetic to white interests and publicly expressed his displeasure on the micro-blogging site where he had a massive 26 800 followers as of Saturday.
His attacks have not gone unnoticed by the VP’s followers, with Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Mayor Wadyajena using the same platform to return fire.
The fight between the two gladiators can be aptly described by the adage that, in politics there are no permanent friends.
Moyo was fired by Zanu PF in 2005 for allegedly mobilising for Mnangagwa in the battle with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed Simon Muzenda.
Mugabe accused Moyo — then Information minister — of being the brains behind the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration where the majority of Zanu PF provincial leaders forged an alliance to back Mnangagwa against Mujuru.
Moyo was also one of the people that were allegedly key in pushing Mujuru out of government and Zanu PF last year, to Mnangagwa’s benefit.
If the rants on Twitter are anything to go by, Moyo is no longer fighting in the Zanu PF Midlands godfather’s corner and this could define a new frontier in the bitter war to succeed the 91-year-old leader.
However, political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Moyo and Mnangagwa were only united by the desire to get rid of Mujuru.
“In retrospect, the relationship Mnangagwa and Moyo had was expedient. It was meant to get rid of Joice Mujuru,” he said.
“Remember the Zanu PF 1999 Women’s League congress had made a resolution that one of the VPs should be a woman.
“Mugabe seemingly ignored it before his bid to stampede [the late] Thenjiwe Lesabe failed.”
Mandaza said the Women’s League congress in August 2004 again raised the issue and Mujuru was then frontrunner for the position.
“This illusion that Mnangagwa was leading the race, I am not sure where it comes from, but it was clear at the time that Mujuru would take it,” he said.
“Mnangagwa even confirmed that there was bad blood between him and Moyo at the time.
“Following the Tsholotsho debacle, Mnangagwa revealed that he was surprised that Moyo had been pushing for his nomination despite the clear animosity between the two.
“I am not sure Moyo would forgive him for selling out.”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure, said the tiff between the two could have its roots in the Tsholotsho Declaration.
“Moyo is likely carving out his own political path outside Mnangagwa’s influence,” he said.
“It is inherent in power politics to have ad hoc alliances and we will continue to see these.
“It could also be that Moyo would not want to be associated with the man who almost killed his political career, and [Moyo]now has ambitions beyond being a Cabinet minister under the VP when and if he takes over.”
Mnangagwa was accused of failing to protect his supporters in the wake of the Zanu PF purge that followed the Tsholotsho Declaration.
Moyo was frozen out of Zanu PF until 2009 when he re-joined the ruling party.
The VP has maintained deafening silence in the face of questions about his ambitions to succeed Mugabe by the political scientist and a Zanu PF faction now known as G40.
“Mnangagwa could be bidding his time, he has been more reticent than his adversaries, probably waiting for the strategic time to strike with devastating effect as has become his hallmark,” Masunungure said.
“But Moyo will continue to throw spanners in the works with the hope of tripping Mnangagwa”.
The Zanu PF secretary for science and technology in May angered Mnangagwa’s allies when he dismissed the notion that the VP was Mugabe’s anointed successor in an interview with the BBC.
He has used Twitter to launch one salvo after another targeted at “successionists”, believed to be a faction aligned to the VP.
After Mnangagwa’s interview with the NewAfrican magazine where he claimed Smith told him Nkomo served white interests and that Zimbabweans would miss Mugabe when he’s gone, Moyo took full advantage.
“The innuendo that the late VP Nkomo was a sell-out like [Chief] Chirau is offensive and unacceptable,” Moyo tweeted then.
In the same interview Moyo also told Mnangagwa that it was too premature to say they would miss Mugabe when he is gone.
In his usual acerbic tongue, the minister blasted: “The inevitable is the truth of everyone and so there is no telling who is going to die before who!
“Of course death is certain, but how does anyone know who is going to die first and therefore who is going to miss who?”
Wadyajena described Moyo as a “spiteful political crook, charlatan and low-life devil incarnate” in an attempt to halt the attacks against Mnangagwa.
“Your habit of twisting words to suit certain agendas is childish and obviously meant to sow seeds of dissent among Zimbabwean youths,” Wadyajena tweeted recently.
Moyo retorted: “I would at any given time welcome being called childish than a murderer.”
Some believed this was in reference to Mnangagwa’s alleged role in the Gukurahundi massacres in the early 80s that claimed the lives of more than 20 000 people in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
Moyo claims that his father was killed during Gukurahundi.