“I want to know your source in the cabinet. Who is your source? You know I am the minister in charge of security.
From The Editor’s Desk by Walter Marwizi
“I will deal with you ruthlessly if you don’t tell me the source. Make no mistake. I won’t come in person, I am sending my operatives and they will do a clean job.”
These were the chilling words from the then powerful minister of National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Didymus Mutasa directed at me in May 2006.
The crime that I had committed was to make a mere inquiry over reports that Manicaland politicians were unhappy with the way Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo had dismissed Mutare Commissioners.
Mutasa did not take kindly to my questions and threatened to unleash the dreaded CIO unless I agreed to commit a cardinal sin in journalism.
In my profession, we don’t reveal our sources even if an axe is above one’s head. But Mutasa, the feared minister of security, would have none of it.
That was the Mutasa that I knew at the height of his power when he used to threaten journalists from the private press he accused of selling out to imperialists.
But how times change. The all-powerful minister, known by his totem “Nyati”, is now a nobody in Zanu PF and parliament after his seat was declared vacant a few days ago.
We all know that for years Mutasa was a vital cog in the Zanu PF machinery that suppressed pro-democracy activists. As minister in charge of security, Mutasa’s role in crushing dissent cannot be downplayed.
Mutasa also sat in the politburo meetings that produced policies that impoverished Zimbabweans. He saw nothing wrong with that, until he was unceremoniously booted out after being associated with the so-called Gamatox faction.
Out in the cold, Mutasa’s eyes have suddenly opened and he is seeing that Zanu PF, his once beloved party, is a monster and Mugabe is too old to rule, never mind that he was fond of reminding Zimbabweans that the president could rule for as long as he liked.
“As [Zanu PF] Secretary for Administration, which is a very important post in the ruling party, let me categorically state that there is no vacancy in the Presidency, that is the seat of President and the two Vice-Presidents . . .” quipped Mutasa.
While it is his democratic right to challenge his expulsion from Zanu PF, Mutasa’s daily crusade against Zanu PF is merely self-serving.
He must be wondering where his next meal is going to come from now that he has been kicked out of the gravy train, and hopes by directing his tirades at Mugabe, he can endear himself with the masses of Zimbabwe who have borne the brunt of the Zanu PF brutality since independence.
It is common cause Mutasa is part and parcel of the deadwood that have ruined this country and it would be foolhardy to think that he can now help Zimbabwe out of the woods.
Remember how he swallowed hook, line and sinker Rotina Mavhunga’s hoax that diesel could come out of the mountains in Chinhoyi. Mutasa actually spent some days in Maningwa mountains, where by his own admission conducted, “a strict observational and participatory methodology” to ascertain if diesel could come out of the rocks.
Mutasa’s Damascene moment came months ago when he realised that he was no longer wanted in Zanu PF. All the years that Edgar Tekere (the late), Margaret Dongo, Morgan Tsvangirai and others were fighting Zanu PF, Mutasa was a champion for Mugabe chete chete (Mugabe for life presidency) slogans.
Mutasa even organised the December Zanu PF congress, which he did not attend for obvious reasons. If Mutasa had not been thrown out of Zanu PF, he would still be publicly urging Mugabe to remain in power.
This is the man that is now seeking to recast himself as a champion of democracy fighting alongside other forces that have been challenging Mugabe for a long time. On Thursday he announced that Zanu PF wanted him dead before the Headlands by-election.
If Mutasa genuinely wants to make a contribution to the Zimbabwean society, he must start revealing details about how the regime he was associated with eliminated political opponents, shrunk the democratic space and conspired to make Zimbabwe a pariah state.
As a former minister in charge of security, Mutasa must have some inside information that would help towards achieving national healing and reconciliation. He surely knows how the military in Zimbabwe got involved in dastard political activities, how the land reform was messed up and how some chefs grabbed more than one farm.
But even if he is not courageous enough to spill the beans, you can credit Mutasa for causing sleepless nights to Mugabe and the two Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko by daily pointing out the illegality of the Zanu PF congress.
There is no doubt having someone as close as Mutasa was to Mugabe, attacking the president daily will do a lot of damage, no wonder Mugabe on Friday threatened judges against hearing his court challenge. We wait to see how this drama will unfold.