THREE months ago former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa was breathing fire, telling President Robert Mugabe that the time he spent serving in his Cabinet was a complete waste of time.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mutsvangwa, a firebrand former freedom fighter, was taking no prisoners as he spat venom
targeting his perceived enemies in Zanu PF that included Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
He became every political journalist’s friend, dishing out quotable quotes like confetti at a wedding as he gave a glimpse into Mugabe’s loosening grip on power.
Mutsvangwa was convinced a Zanu PF faction was usurping Mugabe’s powers using First Lady Grace Mugabe’s proximity to the 92-year-old leader.
He promised to reveal more as he took the war to Grace’s G40 faction, but that was not to be.
Mutsvangwa’s big words are missing from newspaper pages as he has suddenly become one of the most hard to find politicians.
He also seems to have taken a backseat in the affairs of war veterans and questions are being asked about his whereabouts, amid speculation he has mended relations with Mugabe.
Sources said Mugabe recently heaped praises on Mutsvangwa during a meeting of Zanu PF provincial chairpersons, saying he was a loyal cadre.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said they had heard about the claims that Mugabe praised their leader.
“We have heard the rumours that the president commended the chairman’s allegiance to the party, but because we did not attend the said meeting, we cannot say much,” he said.
However, Mahiya said there was nothing amiss about Mutsvangwa’s silence.
“His silence is nothing extraordinary,” he said.
“He has just allowed every official to take their positions and perform their duties.
“He is still chairing meetings and in charge of all resolutions but has allowed the spokesperson and the secretary-general to take up their duties and execute them.”
Mahiya said Mutsvangwa, along with other leaders of the war veterans body, attended the ruling party’s million man-march last Wednesday.
“The chairman [Mutsvangwa], secretary-general [Victor Matemadanda] and other senior war veterans leaders attended the event in solidarity with the president, he is our leader, commander and patron,” he said.
However, political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mutsvangwa’s apparent withdrawal into the background could be a strategic move.
“I think it is a strategy, some kind of division of labour. These are guerrillas and could be given a clean berth to strategise and reposition themselves for the next phase of the internal struggle for power,” he said.
“You will notice that both camps seem to have withdrawn a bit and it is Mugabe who is at the forefront now. He is talking a lot and his lieutenants would not want to be seen to be diluting his message.”
Ruhanya said Grace’s long stay in Singapore had forced the G40 faction into a shell as Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters that include war veterans seemed to regain lost ground.
“The G40 group could have withdrawn because its matriarch was away, now she is back you will hear the dogs coming out of their shells,” Ruhanya added.
Harare-based political analyst Alexander Rusero said Mutsvangwa could have been gagged as a pre-condition for a possible return in future.
“Mutsvangwa bared his soul, told all and sundry about his broken heart after the events that led to his dismissal from Cabinet and suspension,” he said.
“A lot is happening behind the scenes and he could have been gagged as a precondition for a return from the cold.
“But then Mutsvangwa is not a character that can just go with a whimper as we know him.
“He still leads a formidable institution in the form of the war veterans and my gut feeling is there are movements that we will get to know about in the not too distant future.”
Mutsvangwa was not responding to calls or messages sent to his mobile phone last week.