By Chido Makunike
I WISH to congratulate the Sunday Mail for featuring an informative, hard news story on its front page for a change. The paper could not resist the usual opinion/fiction piece about the MDC
masquerading as a news story, but I suppose we should be grateful that this time it was given second billing to the fascinating main story about Didymus Mutasa.
The Mutasa story also meant there could not be another exposé of the latest of the now innumerable claimed international conspiracies against Zimbabwe, but there’s always next week!
Much of the country has become numb to officially-sanctioned violence since Zanu PF in 2000 for the first time saw the real prospect of power slipping away from it. Even then, Mutasa’s alleged blessing and instigation of, and even personal participation in, violence against political opponents in Makoni North constituency makes shocking reading.
The story quotes from a police report of the alleged reign of terror by the Mugabe minister and senior ruling party official and his militia against his opponents. Mutasa, a longtime Mugabe confidant and recent re-appointee as minister, has not been amused by the fact that a former campaign aide has now decided to be rude and disrespectful enough to challenge him in party primaries for the Makoni North parliamentary seat.
Losing that seat, as Mutasa clearly appears to fear could easily happen, would endanger his recent return to prominence and the good life.
Imagine losing grip of the sweet sound of the words “honourable minister” and worse, losing the free brand new government-issue Jeep Cherokee before the new-car smell has even evaporated! Mutasa is determined not to see these calamities befall him, having been unexpectedly given a late-in-life renewed lease on power by his old pal Mugabe.
The shocking latest reports of generalised, widespread violence by Mutasa and his private militia are still allegations at this point. But there have been plenty other reports from at least the last general election suggesting that Mutasa is a political thug.
It’s just that before he had the good sense to mainly beat up opposition members and sympathisers. Then the Mugabe regime, the official media and the police could easily look the other way to avoid seeing all the blood and broken bodies. As Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of “justice” has famously said, a “revolution” is no fun at all without some blood and gore!
But now Mutasa, flush with the arrogance of having been rewarded with a ministerial appointment despite his violent notoriety (maybe even because of it!) perhaps figured he had licence to turn on his challengers within the party; even on the police who previously abetted his reigns of terror by cowardly looking the other way.
Over the years since about 2000, Mutasa has not made much effort to be discreet about his Rusape-area warlord activities on behalf of Zanu PF. He light-heartedly denied and sometimes defended on chillingly shallow grounds his actions against those exercising their right to say “Zanu PF yaora”.
Never has there previously been any serious attempt to hold him to account for his reign of intimidation.
When he was recently appointed minister of “anti-corruption” by fellow admirer of the persuasive charms of violence, Mugabe, it suggested approval and even a pat on the back for his actions. But in one fell swoop it made nonsense of the claims of “a crackdown on corruption,” even though that whole effort was floundering by that time anyway on other grounds, such as the hypocrisy of its application.
Violence is a corruption of its own kind, and seems to have become so ingrained as an official Zimbabwean way of conducting politics that one must ask how one of its most public and unabashed practitioners, Didymus Mutasa, could preside over the investigation of the claimed corruption of others!
Quite unwittingly, the regime that is so puzzled by why it is so widely reviled, once again showed how even by the murky standards of politics it is completely detached from any sense of ethics and consistency!
Between a speculating banker who has figured out some scheme to enrich himself without subjecting himself to the pick-pocketing fingers of an incompetent government, and a warlord who goes around his home area terrorising people, who is more corrupt?
Mutasa in no way qualified to be minister of “anti-corruption” and the fact that Mugabe did not see the ridiculous irony of the appointment given Mutasa’s public notoriety tells us a lot about Mugabe himself!
Have the sadly compromised Zimbabwe Republic Police found their professional voice at last? Is their compilation and leaking of the report about Mutasa’s alleged atrocities a sign of a renewed commitment to their job? When thousands of Zimbabweans were being abused by Zanu PF militias over the last several years the regular, disgusting answer to pleas for help from the police were “that is a political issue, we are too chicken/unconcerned to be involved!” But they always seemed to have a department dedicated full time to the arrest and abuse of NCA activists, MDC leaders and journalists!
Or is the outrage of the police only because in his arrogance and carelessness, Mutasa has created enemies in the police force? Slapping a police officer in the face as Mutasa is reported to have done was not at all smart, and perhaps this is what has got Commissioner Chihuri so riled up, not Mutasa’s reign of terror against thousands of civilians!
If a private citizen had done what Mutasa did, he would be lying comatose and crippled in some police cell, but the slapped policemen actually abandoned his vehicle at Mutasa’s residence after the abuse, despite his colleagues there being armed, and ran back to base on foot, leaving Mutasa to add salt to the wound by confiscating the vehicle’s keys!
It looks like the police are only fearless against civilians, opposition activists and members of the media armed with the lethal weapons of their pens and pencils! Is this latest outrage by Mutasa what will make Chihuri and his politically compromised police force remember that their primary allegiance should be to fair policing, rather than protecting abusive politicians who will end up figuratively and literally slapping them in the face? I hope so but rather doubt it. Chihuri in his own way is just another politician, always blowing with that day’s wind.
With his violence credentials now officially and firmly established, I predict that Mutasa will have even more respect from Mugabe than before and is likely to be appointed his second vice president. It somehow fits – a president who has boasted of his “degrees in violence” would surely want close to him someone with at least advanced diplomas in the same subject!
Whatever portfolio Mutasa occupies at Mugabe’s side, in the ruling party or the government, I will always know him as the violent old Zanu PF warlord of Rusape!
*Chido Makunike is a regular Zimbabwe Independent columnist.