By Robert Tapfumaneyi
EXILED former cabinet minister Patrick Zhuwao has revealed he once told then Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga not to put his faith in Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he described as “unelectable”.
Zimbabwe’s military has been embedded in Zanu PF politics to a point of determining who among the lords leading party factions was going to succeed then President Robert Mugabe.
Likewise, Chiwenga once tried to convince Zhuwao to support then Vice President Mnangagwa’s succession ambitions.
But Zhuwao said he was honest enough with the then military boss that the man he so much put faith in did not have enough charisma to win an election, let alone lead a country successfully.
Zhuwao, nephew to Mugabe, was speaking to South African media during a discussion to mark exactly one year since the former Zimbabwe strongman’s death.
“I also remember trying to explain to General Chiwenga (now vice president) when he was trying to get me to support Emmerson Mnangagwa to be President,” Zhuwao said.
“I said to General Chiwenga, ‘no General, this man is unelectable. He does not have the capacity to deal with people, he does not have the intellect to be able to lead the country’.
“The General said, ‘okay fine, we will see what we can do’ and they then recognised that Emmerson Mnangagwa was unelectable but because of their entitlement mantra, they decided that the elections are not necessary.”
Zhuwao added, “And we can see that with the examples that I gave you, we can see how the democratic process is now being undermined significantly.”
The former youth minister said his comments were far from any sour grapes towards the now State leader but was being vindicated by the country’s sorry state of affairs under the incumbent.
“Goodness gracious me! I am absolutely enjoying lecturing at Wits (university), I am absolutely enjoying supervising my MBA students, I am absolutely enjoying watching and actually realising that oh my God, I managed to dodge a bullet. I am not part of the that regime.”
“I was in cabinet for two years. Emmerson Mnangagwa was in cabinet and parliament for 40 years.
“The fact that I was in cabinet for two years and Emmerson Mnangagwa was in cabinet for 40 years meant that his voice was significant to President Mugabe. Mine was a significant fraction than that of Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“And I think you can’t fault him President Robert Mugabe for having a little bit of faith in some of the colleagues that he had been with from the 1960s.”
Zhuwao was among a crop of younger Zanu PF politicians who fronted a fierce campaign to steer the party away from an incorrigibly liberation war-centred approach that entailed the continued appointment of ex-combatants to leadership posts.
War veterans and the military were strongly behind Mnangagwa taking over, a situation that led to a 2017 coup on Mugabe, who had apparently dumped his militant support base for a new set of potential successors.