From relative obscurity, Christopher Mutsvangwa and his wife Monica rose to become one of Zimbabwe’s political power couples.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mutsvangwa gained prominence in 2014 following his leading role in the dismantling of former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s Zanu PF faction after claims that she was plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe.
The former Zimbabwe ambassador to China had become so powerful that at one time he had the temerity to chide his then boss Foreign Affairs minister Samuel Mumbengegwi in public.
Monica was a rising star in Zanu PF women’s league led by First Lady Grace Mugabe.
However, like dew, their power seemed to disappear in the mid-morning summer heat following a politburo decision early this month to suspend them for three years each before the axe fell on their Cabinet positions.
It was downhill from then on despite the defiant fist mainly from the former War Veterans minister, while Monica seemed to sheepishly accept her new status among the “has beens” of the country’s politics.
Mutsvangwa remains defiant and continues to poke at those in power with reckless abandon. He believes G40, a Zanu PF faction aligned to Grace, is behind their troubles.
“Over the years, the ex-combatants have been moulded into a caricature,” he says.
“They are branded a tribe from exile. Monica and me unfortunately debunk that image of bias and prejudice.
“We are just another Zimbabwean couple. So we are victims of the destruction of a positive symbol about the sublime beauty of that stupendous act of self-sacrifice for a national cause,” he added when asked if he felt his family was being unfairly targeted.
“Jonathan Moyo [Higher Education minister] and [Generation 40] G40 are Stalinisque in their futile effort to revise and rewrite history.
“The political ambitions of G40 are ominous. Look at the menace of Julius Malema and his pseudo left challenge to revolutionary ANC.
“He is a creation of [national commissar Saviour] Kasukuwere and G40 nihilistic agenda,” he said.
“G40 ideology as espoused by Jonathan Moyo is meant to obliterate all things to do with Chimurenga ethos and legacy”.
Monica was not available for comment as she was reportedly out of the country.
Mutsvangwa and his wife are veterans of the liberation struggle. Monica had carved a reputation as a survivor in Zanu PF’s volatile Manicaland structures.
She won a bruising battle against then feared party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa in Manicaand after what she called a “sham” internal poll for the position of provincial chairperson in 2013.
She had lost the poll to former diplomat John Mvundura, but refused to take the matter lying down.
Mutasa suspended Monica before all hell broke loose, sweeping the former Intelligence minister in a stunning turn of events that political watchers are still grappling to make sense of.
Monica stormed into the Zanu PF central committee as the women’s league national spokesperson and senator in Manicaland.
Mutsvangwa and his wife were appointed into Mugabe’s Cabinet after the 2013 polls.
Mutsvangwa, who is MP for Norton, was thrust into the powerful Communist style politburo.
After Jabulani Sibanda’s ouster from the post of war veterans’ chairperson, the former ZBC boss was foisted on the former liberation war fighters as their new leader.
Monica’s problems in Manicaland resurfaced with the emergence of G40.
Despite support from long-time ally and provincial heavyweight Oppah Muchinguri, Monica was tossed, heckled, suspended, reprimanded, re-instated and ultimately humiliated.
Mutsvangwa jumped to her defence and the problems began to spill into the war veterans’ arena.
However, the couple did not stand a chance as they were pitted against Grace — who has declared herself the most powerful politician in Zimbabwe.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Mutsvangwa and his wife were “no small people in local politics”.
He said this meant that they were not being punished as a couple but as individuals.
“Chris was a senior person during the struggle and Monica was more senior, even to her husband,” Mandaza said.
“So they are being punished individually. Each in their own capacity. They are seen each as a lever of the other’s political ambitions.”
The Mutsvangwas join Webster Shamu and his wife Constance as some of the Zanu PF couples who were thrown into the dustbin for daring to challenge Grace.