'Moyo keen to divide Mugabe, Mnangagwa'

HARARE - Maverick businessman-cum-politician Energy Mutodi is refusing to hold back his withering criticism of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF and here he speaks to The Daily News On Sunday Deputy Chief Writer, Tendai Kamhungira, about his views on the rumbling succession issue and the storm caused by images of him with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa holding a coffee mug in what has become known as the “Cupgate”; below are the excerpts of the interview.

Q: There has been a lot of noise about your presence at a party organised by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his rural home, can you clarify how and why you attended the event?

A: What I know is that like any other government official, the VP has always been having such meetings, not meetings per se but gatherings with his friends for the New Year and Christmas. The VP did not personally invite me to the event, I happened to be there, one may say I was invited or not, I don’t think anyone who was there got any written invitation to confirm whether they had been invited or they had not been invited. But, look, the bottom line is that there is nothing to go to town about attending a Christmas event, a New Year’s Eve celebration at a house that belongs to a public official because he is my vice president, he is your vice president, so there is nothing unusual. Even if an opposition member was there, the MDC or whichever party, vice president Mnangagwa is the vice president of the nation.

Q: You were involved in the so-called Cupgate saga, was this a planned thing?

A: The explanation I got is that VP Mnangagwa got that coffee mug as a present from his workers and honestly if someone in his own house gets a present from his workers, he doesn’t even know which closed present has what item, he honestly opened and he saw that cup. It’s just a mere cup.

Q: And were the pictures part of any plan to send a particular message?

A: Someone just took those pictures of me with the vice president without any intention to express any statement or any message. It was just an ordinary picture. That’s not the only high profile picture that has been taken between a citizen and a high profile figure. President Mugabe has had pictures with (Wicknell) Chivayo, who has said a thing about that? Because it is now Mnangagwa pictured with Mutodi, where is the enmity coming from, where is the hate coming from? Am I not a citizen of Zimbabwe? Is Mnangagwa not my vice president? Why should it matter to someone if I am pictured with him? So you can only see that the concern is coming from shallow-minded people who just want to create a storm in a tea cup (literally).

Q: Now, other people went to town about the issue including Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, what do you think could be the reason why this coffee mug created so much noise?

A: Moyo is in the habit of creating divisions in the party and he is keen to see a war between Mnangagwa and Mugabe. I have always reminded him, quite often I always help him in discussions because we are in the same Law School class, that there is nowhere he can go with factionalism, there is nowhere he can go with trying to divide the nation. He is on record claiming that he wanted to destroy Zanu PF from within and any normal person will tell you that he is actually doing that mission, starting with the expulsion of (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru and 41 party members, among them 16 or so ministers. That was not a joke. That issue could have been solved within the party amicably and people could not have been expelled in such large numbers but he is in the habit of divisive politics and he has actually said it before that he wanted to see to it that Zanu PF was destroyed from within. Right now, Mugabe has been alienated from the people who liberated the country. He has been alienated from the war veterans and when you look at it Mugabe has always been saying good things about war veterans, respecting them about the good that they did in delivering independence to this country.Now for you to be alienated from the war veterans at such an old age, it means there is someone who is working flat out to make sure that the party is divided and will eventually lose at the elections.

Q: Are you claiming in a way that Jonathan Moyo wants Zanu PF to lose elections?

A: Jonathan Moyo is the enemy of Zanu PF. The Bible says the one who you eat with in the same plate is your biggest enemy and that is Jonathan for you. He is the Judas of Zanu PF; he doesn’t want that party to succeed because he has got grievances against the party that date back to the 1980s.

He is not happy that the party continues to win elections, he has been in and out of the party and for Mugabe to trust such a person, I am sure that is the biggest blunder that the president has ever done.

Q: You are seen as a straight-talker when it comes to the Zanu PF succession issue, as a party member how do you feel about the whole situation?

A: I want to categorically state that the views that I project in the media are my personal views and I believe being a Zanu PF member does not take away my own personal opinion. I am a citizen of Zimbabwe, I have got a right to pass any comment about public officials, be it the president, be it the vice president, be it a minister, I have got that right. There are decisions that are made by the party at congress, at conferences and so on. I am not above those decisions but like I said it doesn’t take away my freedom to express my views. I am a frank person. If I like you, I like you, if I don’t like what you are doing I also tell you. I have written ‘‘lavish’’ articles about Mugabe, I have written good articles about Zanu PF but where I feel things are not right, I also express my views. So the precedence I am just setting is that as citizens we must be guardians of our own future. The fact that we have a president today does not mean we are gonna (going to) have that president forever. We need to shape the future through the views that we pass today, that’s exactly what I am doing.

Q: Do you support the war veterans’ call for Mugabe to retire?

A: In the succession (issue) you will find that Mugabe and the whole leadership must thank people who are talking about succession because those people who are talking, have their views known but I can assure you that 99 percent of Zanu PF members are of the view that Mugabe now needs to rest. It won’t be nice for Mugabe to be defeated in elections because 99 percent of his members in Zanu PF think that he is no longer suitable to remain at the helm of the party. People really think that he needs to retire and allow for a successor to come. Now the war veterans are some of the people who are talking about succession I thank them for that, for being candid, realistic and for being honest.

Q: You openly support VP Mnangagwa, why do you think he is the heir apparent?

A: I have offered my support for ...Mnangagwa to be Mugabe’s successor because of so many reasons that include the fact that we need a smooth transfer of power from the incumbent to the next leader and only Mnangagwa can provide that smooth transition because he has been in the trenches with the president, he knows the strengths and the weaknesses of the system, he knows our enemies, he knows our friends, he has got a strategy to take this country forward, because he already knows the past. For you to take a country forward, you must know its history, so that’s why I have favoured him to be the next president.The other reason is that VP Mnangagwa is a lawyer by profession; he will implement the rule of law if he is elected the president. This country is now on its knees because of corruption, because of economic mismanagement and incompetence of public officials and as an experienced government official, a lawyer by profession, he will be able to really turn around the fortunes of the country for the better.The other reason why I say ... Mnangagwa is a better candidate is because we all know him. He has not been the president, some people may want to accuse him of this and that, Gukurahundi…and so on, he has never been the president of Zimbabwe. We all know that it is only the president who has got the power over the army and over the activities of Cabinet and whatever government arm, so why should we say then Mnangagwa is responsible for the past of this country? He is also a calm character, quiet, patient, loyal, as he has shown loyalty to Mugabe for the past 50 years, so what more do you want, what kind of a person are we expecting?

Q: Do you think the VP is now ripe for presidency?

A: He has not yet done enough, what he now needs to do is to make sure that some of those people who are around him, who are closing him in and saying you are our man; he must perhaps do away with those people to create room for new people to come in to help him with his ambition, if ever he has the ambition to be president. The VP can even work with First Lady Grace Mugabe, and discuss the future with her. There is nothing wrong with that, he can even discuss with (Saviour) Kasukuwere. The VP now needs to go for his perceived enemies. There are so many people around the VP, some of them are not even educated, they are possessive of him, they want to create an impression that he is where he is because of them, he must kick those people away from him. 

Q: Why do you think a member from the G40 must not take over from Mugabe?   

A: To be honest any takeover by Grace Mugabe will not be accepted by Zimbabweans, not even a single Zimbabwean will accept that because it will be taken as a continuation of Mugabe’s government. You cannot transfer power from yourself to another member of your family, that will be regarded as a monarchy and it will be a disgrace to the democracy of this country, and Mugabe has categorically said he will not transfer power to his wife. Mugabe is not a naïve person; he will not stoop so low to that extent of transferring power to his wife, so that one is already out. Then coming to Kasukuwere, Kasukuwere in his post as commissar, he has presided over the disintegration of the party, what more if you give him a higher responsibility, what is he going to do? Already as a political commissar you have seen more than 300 cadres dismissed from the party. It means you are a failure. You cannot get a higher post when you cannot perform at a lower post. So definitely the so-called G40 has no candidate to take over from Mugabe, there is no candidate whatsoever. We need a candidate who is gonna guarantee our sovereignty, who is gonna guarantee our prosperity, who is gonna guarantee our unity, that is not there in the G40.

Q: Are you not afraid of openly stating your views pertaining to the succession issue?

A: I am not afraid of anything, I am not a coward.  I am prepared to die for my views. I am not afraid of anyone, I know some people will be afraid, saying he is going too far, but no, that’s not going too far, that’s being frank and candid. I should not be afraid.

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