Vice-President Costantino Chiwenga returned home last week from China where he was receiving treatment..
He arrived aboard a Chinese plane and the Chinese deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhao Baogang, led the delegates, who included Chiwenga’s brother and son, minus top government officials who welcomed him at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
NewsDay chief reporter Everson Mushava (ND) caught up with self-exiled former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo (JM), who described Chiwenga’s return on Twitter as bizarre and a reflection of disunity in Zanu PF. Below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: Last week, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga returned home on board a Chinese plane and was welcomed by a Chinese envoy, minus government officials. In your view, what does that mean?
JM: What happened has no precedence, save perhaps in banana republics. And the fact that it happened the way it did, has certified Zimbabwe as a banana republic.
You cannot have the senior vice-president, who had been away critically ill and was receiving treatment in China for some five months, returning on a special Chinese plane to be received by China’s deputy ambassador in Harare, who was head of the welcoming party with no government or ruling party officials. That’s unheard of.
The inescapable impression, if not reality, is that China was demonstrating its muscles and exposing Zimbabwe as a Chinese puppet.
While it is tempting to conclude that the Chinese did not give the Zimbabwean government flight arrival details, which is not sustainable because Chiwenga’s Zimbabwean security was there in numbers, this clearly means that things have fallen apart. There’s now a shell of a government with no centre.
Zanu PF bigwigs did not expect Chiwenga to return, looking brand new, with the Chinese calling the shots and Zimbabweans playing second fiddle. Mnangagwa was offering Joice Mujuru the vice-presidency held by Chiwenga, while Zanu PF bigwigs were busy jostling for the same position and harassing Chiwenga’s allies in the military, government and in Zanu PF; and hoping that the party’s Goromonzi conference would consign Chiwenga to the dustbin of political history.
So, the return of a well-made up and well-groomed Chiwenga, with a presidential look, has turned things upside down in the corridors of power. A different power matrix is definitely loading, and the question is not whether it will materialise, but how it will do so and when.
ND: Now that Chiwenga is back, what do you think is happening in Zanu PF?
JM: I think Zanu PF is imploding. The writing is on the wall that Zanu PF has lost the army or that the army has lost interest in Zanu PF.
It is also clear that the post-2017 Zanu PF cannot survive without the army. You saw what happened when the army stayed away from Zanu PF’s so-called anti-sanctions march on October 25, 2019, it was an embarrassing disaster as Mnangagwa addressed an empty National Sports Stadium. Only the army can mobilise for Zanu PF.
Unlike Mugabe, Mnangagwa has no mobilisation capacity whatsoever. He’s not a leader. But of course, Mnangagwa wants to be a leader, apa haana vanhu (yet he has no support).