VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika and an influential faction of veteran former PF Zapu stalwarts raised the stakes to upset presidential appointee Jonathan Moyo’s desir
e to contest elections and fulfil his ambition to represent Tsholotsho constituency in next year’s general election and won.
But Moyo’s opponents could have clapped their hands too early and their initial victory seems pyrrhic. He is still the flavour of the month in Tsholotsho, a seat he wants to contest next year.
“None of our former representatives since 1980 had done what he did. I think people became jealous of his achievements. Politics is a dirty game and I would not hesitate to vote for him if he chose to stand,” says Simangaliso Lunga of Tsholotsho growth point.
“We recognise what he has done for this constituency even though he was not an MP,” Lunga added.
An unelected junior minister of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Moyo pampered the electorate in rural Tsholotsho with gifts and donations running into millions of dollars since he launched his bid for the constituency to upgrade his political status from a presidential nominee four years ago.
“Which prospective candidate does not shower the electorate with donations? It has become a tradition and part of the electioneering process,” Keith Zwelini, an electrician in Bulawayo who hails from Tsholotsho says.
Zwelini admits Moyo might have made a grave political blunder by inviting party chairmen to his constituency during a politically charged period preceding the party congress.
“I think it showed political naivety on his part. But that does not take away the great work he has done for the constituency. That is the kind of MP people desire,” he said.
“If he is allowed to stand in the primaries he will win hands down,” Zwelini said.
Moyo was at the forefront, crusading for the establishment of a university at Lupane. The proposed university site is yet to be cleared although it was supposed to have enrolled its first intake last September. He has yet to fulfil his promise of upgrading a radio and telecommunications transmitter in the Tsholotsho constituency and complete refurbishing a major highway in the area to polish his status with the electorate in Matabeleland North.
Msika fired the first warning shots in the epic battle for superiority by vowing to ensure the Zanu PF constitution is followed to the letter in nominating party candidates for party primaries to choose candidates for election in March next year.
“We will insist to President Mugabe that the party constitution be strictly followed regarding the political history of each aspiring candidate,” Msika told party supporters at his Bulawayo home three weeks before the crucial congress that threw out Moyo from the higher echelons of the party.
He failed to make it into the party’s central committee too.
Moyo’s meteoric rise to political stardom as a government spin-doctor since the days of the Constitutional Commission to become a member of Zanu PF’s supreme Soviet-style politburo had left many a veteran politician in a flat spin.
When he crafted the self-serving Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to rein in the independent press and maintain a tight rein on the government media, most Zanu PF politicians never figured out Moyo meant to use the Act to advance personal political interests against perceived political competitors.
He brusquely manipulated the state electronic and print media to deny media coverage to rival politicians he considered a threat to his ambition.
“It works to our advantage,” says a journalist from the independent media who refused to be named. “Those politicians Moyo denied publicity and access to the state media became more than willing to let their views be known and blow the whistle on issues of public interest through the independent media.”
And Moyo’s incendiary approach to political issues appears to have set him on a collision course with the veteran politicians in Matabeleland province. Moyo had contemptuously countered his political superiors’ directives while displaying routine flashes of radicalism to paper over his chequered career of criticising Mugabe’s regime.
Doomsayers argue that Moyo’s flirtation with Zanu PF appears headed for a sad ending if Mugabe does not appoint him minister next year.
Msika never forgave Moyo for demeaning him over the issue of the state takeover of Kondozi Farm earlier this year. Still smarting from the saga in which Moyo’s directive held sway, Msika rallied a group of influential Zapu politicians to spoil the spin-doctor’s election bid.