When stealing votes for the boss gets rewarded

HARARE - The curious, awaiting press corps fretted with impatience until Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a then unknown Israeli finally came out after what appeared to have been a long meeting with President Robert Mugabe.

The journalists had waited for over two hours, wondering what had held the president, who had called for an unprecedented press conference on the eve of an election.

At the sight of the two gentlemen coming out of a meeting with the president at around 11am, the journalists then understood the reason for Mugabe’s delay.

When the scribes had arrived some two hours earlier, the curious meeting was already in progress, with the president, Mnangagwa and the then unknown Israeli discussing what could only have been serious matters of State.

The venue was State House.

The day was Friday, July 30, 2013.

And the election was scheduled for the following day.

The man coming with Mnangagwa out of a meeting with Mugabe at State House was none other than Emmanuel Antebbi, the chief executive officer of Nikuv International.

  The Israeli was immediately driven out of the plush State House grounds while Mnangagwa decided to attend the president’s press conference.

Mnangagwa and his boss were visibly in very high spirits at the press conference, so I am told by colleagues with whom I spent over 10 years in my other life as a journalist.

The media is an industry whose anxieties I understand so well, an industry where I spent over a decade slugging it out on the beat and left as chief news editor of a popular daily newspaper and secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.  

Mugabe appeared to be at ease but the journalists were curious about a press conference on the eve of a crucial election, he was flanked not by Joice Mujuru, his second-in-command by then; but by Mnangagwa, who was far down the pecking order in both the party and government.

During question time, journalist Columbus Mavhunga asked Mugabe why he was flanked by a fairly junior Mnangagwa and whether that pointed to the president having anointed him a successor.

The following is the transcription of that revealing discussion between Mugabe (RM) and Columbus Mavhunga (CM) on July 30, 2013:

CM: Mr President, on the eve of an election which many say might be your last election, which you deny of course, you are seated next to Defence minister Mnangagwa in the absence of your deputy. Is it a way, just referring to Mnangagwa, who is also seen by others as someone who is vying to take over,  is it a way of endorsing him or anything?

RM: Your mind has run wild. You want me to tell you how he ended up being here?

CM: If you don’t mind.

RM: He had came to deliver a paper to me on something else and we were discussing it. And he asked why these people are here and I said I am going to have a press conference and he asked, could I stay and I said yes. So he is not even invited, he has invited……… perhaps he feared that you people gathered here were out to commit some mischief so he wanted to be present to defend me, so you can see he has sat there very mute just listening to you and enjoying your visit.”

I make reference to this press conference on the eve of the last election as it provides important detail that puts into perspective Mnangagwa’s new position in both party and government.

What paper could he possibly have brought to the president with the chief executive of a company that is regarded as having been at the centre of rigging?

This episode places Mnangagwa at the epicentre of the shenanigans of the so-called election of July 2013 and probably explains his meteoric rise.

This is a man who has executed the dirty work for the big boss, particularly with reference to pilfering the people’s verdict since the 2000 election, and the time for finally rewarding him came at Zanu PF’s last congress.

But perhaps the ordinary Zanu PF members could not be trusted to elect him and hence the party constitution had to be amended to make the president name the electoral college.

And Mnangagwa himself, as secretary for legal affairs, played his part in the unprocedural amendments to make sure that he personally benefitted from the process.

Here is a man with a tainted history, starting with his job as State Security minister during the time of the Gukurahundi massacres.

In 2008, he was involved in pick pocketing the people’s will as Defence minister particularly when the army was used to overturn Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory in the first round on March 29, 2008.

In the run-up to the contrived presidential election run-off on June 27, 2008, many MDC supporters were callously murdered in State-sponsored violence orchestrated by the military, with Mnangagwa as Defence minister.

In the searing political hat, many innocent lives were lost.

And the technical presence of Mnangagwa’s relative in Mugabe’s office is not entirely lost to the majority of Zimbabweans, who only know too well his blood relationship with the chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

Judging by the writings of the excitable George Charamba, a megaphone with a penchant for high verbiage at the expense of substance, one gets the impression that the coalition against Mujuru had permeated even the senior bureaucrats right in the Office of the President in which she was Mugabe’s deputy.

It appears a verdict had been passed beyond the politicians that Mujuru was not sophisticated enough to be a dictator — as if being a dictator were a mark of sophistry.

I have kicked off this article with details that put into perspective Mnangagwa’s role in the July 31, 2013 election.

The publicly available MDC report on how the 2013 rigging took place, clearly explains Mnangagwa’s role as the political head of the plot to waylay the people’s verdict.

Mnangagwa headed the high command of the shadowy mission, set up in October 2012 when Zanu PF resolved to stampede the nation into an election regardless of Sadc’s advice for the poll to be predicated by reforms.

The MDC report explains how the $100 million operation was an intricate plot that involved the security and military experts, foreign governments and Nikuv, the shadowy Israeli company of former senior Mossad operatives.

The MDC report reads in part: “Led by Mnangagwa, members of the high command undertook secret missions to Israel, China, Angola, Central Africa Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the purposes of obtaining advice as well as facilitate deals for funding the rigging mission.”

Below the high command of the rigging machinery led by the current vice president was a team of military and security personnel led by “retired” Air Vice Marshall Henry Muchena, Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba and CIO deputy Director-general, Aaron Daniel Tonderai Nhepera.

But Ngwena’s tragedy is that his cabal has not always fared well where the people’s verdict is required.

With the advent of Mnangagwa in the cockpit of both party and government, there appears to have been a constituency that had

begun to warm up to the possibility of reform under Zanu PF.

In fact, Mnangagwa himself went on to dash that misplaced hope during his four-week stint as acting president.

Not only did we see the resurrection of structures of violence as exemplified by the construction of a torture base in Budiriro, Ngwena proceeded to reverse a previous government pronouncement that contract farming and joint ventures were allowed.

And to show that Mnangagwa is just an oversized provincial baron in a national office, 90 percent of his major pronouncements as acting president were made at forums either in Kwekwe or Gweru, in the Midlands Province, where he has always been a provincial godfather.

He has always been in the company of the acting provincial chairperson, one Kizito Chivamba, whom we remember for his part in the sorry predicament  of the late Patrick Kombayi.

This is the company the acting president was keeping — a company that proves his own bona fides.

The leopard will never change it spots. Zanu PF cannot reform.

Change will come to this country if we retain our faith in the people’s movement we formed 16 years ago at a public forum in Rufaro stadium.

And that movement is the MDC led by Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

*Tamborinyoka doubles as the spokesperson to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as well as the director of Information and Publicity in the party. He writes here in his personal capacity.

    Comments (7)

    So all the five GNU years meant to stop Zanu PF shenanigans were wasted because MDC, in their infantile wisdom changed the end objective from ensuring free and fair elections to let us allow the elections to be rigged so we can see who is at the centre of the rigging. Well now we know Mnangagwa was at the centre of the vote rigging and he has been rewarded with the VP position; what good is that to us? You telling us all this as if you expect the nation to shower you with praise and approbation for your journalist insight! Ever since the rigged July 2013 elections you and your equally incompetent colleague in the Tsvangirai entourage, Alex Magaisa, have been come up with one article after another trying to falsify MDC's pathetic performance and betrayal of the nation throughout the GNU years by re-telling what happen with a new heroic spin. So instead of apologising to the nation for MDC breath-taking incompetence and betrayal in allowing Mnangagwa to have his “meteoric rise” you telling us of it as if the whole thing is a great MDC achievement. What a team you lot made; in the front, Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC President (a certified village idiot); his chief legal advisor Alex Magaisa on the right, (so incompetent, he failed to Tsvangirai to get even one reform implemented, not one); and one the left hand his spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka (with journalistic instinct of a pig collecting pearls). The three amigos of Zimbabwe politics; the most useless and incompetent political team of our time!

    wilbert Mukori - 28 January 2015

    no one is invited to the political den by gushungo comes out alive ,from dumbujenas of this world to the tsvangirais, all we see are white bones that are useless even to the eco system.

    watson hondo - 29 January 2015

    Wilbert you don't stop to amaze me. Your hatred of MDC and Tsvangirayi has climbed a step up a ladder and you have removed the bottom rudders. None in the GNu could change Mugabe, AU and SADC could not change Mugabe and Tsvangirayi a mere mortal without even a knbokerrie you expected him to change Mugabe, ask Mutasa and Mujuru, just being perceived as if you are threatening Mugabe's position you are gone and you expect MDC to change anything. Did you see how amendments to the zanupf constitution were railroaded at the last minutes ? If he can do it to those who were with him in the trenches you then say if it is done to MDC it is incompetence. Such armchair stupidity from a so-called learned person of your stature worries me.

    maita - 29 January 2015

    Iwe Wiribheti Mukori. Saka iwe chii chauno offer other than kutukiririra vamwe.

    Chamatinhari - 29 January 2015

    wilbert uri mbwa mwana wehure

    boolo - 31 January 2015

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