Security was unprecedented at the burial of Elliot Manyika. Mugabe traditionallu has tight security, including two truckloads of fully armed combat troops and an ambulance (he has never used it), but even by his standards, the level of security at Heroes Acre was unusually tight. Here he inspects a guard of honour of the presidential guard with his wife
Internet connetion in this country is getting worse by the day. I have not been able to access the blog for more than 24 hours now and even as I write this, I am not sure I will be able to post it. We are continually getting "conectivity problems", whatever those are. We have lots to talk about, you and I. We can catch up on the comments page if you have any thoughts.
First, it should come as no surprise that Jakaya Kikwete refuses to confirm or deny his conversation with Mugabe yesterday. It was a conversation in which he really was not making any demands, but merely asking if the "insurgency" case is nearing an end. I am now able to say with certainty that Kikwete did speak to Mugabe yesterday, after the burial of Elliot Manyika. The answer he got is obviously not news to readers of this blog. So that is that.
And for the naysayers, I will be starting a clock to count the days and hours since it was announced that there would be an investigation into the "mutiny" by soldiers. I said back then that there would be no such court martial until all the whole "insurgency" case is nicely cooked up and ready to present before SADC and the AU, the only bodies right now whose opinion Mugbe even slightly cares about.
********************Anyway, I said a couple of days ago that we would take a look at the Elliot Manyika story, the ZANU PF minister who died in a car accident Saturday afternoon. The interesting thing, as I noted before, is that Manyika met his death in exactly the same circumstances as Border Gezi, the minister who last held the post that Manyika held at the time of his death.
Border Gezi died in a car accident when a wheel on his Mercedes burst and the car rolled. He was assisted by a passing doctor who was, however, unable to save him and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the nearest hospital.
Elliot Manyika died when his Mercedes also burst a tyre and his car rolled. He was also assisted by a passing doctor who was, however, unable to save him and he was pronounced dead on arrival at a Bulawayo hospital.
The way they do it: one tyre on your car is filled with petrol when your minsterial car goes to be serviced before a long trip. Not so much that it spills out, but enough. You take your car and your driver and you drive off. As the tyre heats up, the petrol in it expands and at some point on your journey as you are cruising along at 160km/h or more (minsterial drivers like their speed, Highway Patrol does not exist for them), boom! And there is a problem solved.
Now for the infighting that he had been sucked into prior to his death. In the three weeks preceding his death, Manyika had been locked in battle with Hubert Nyanhongo, ZANU PF's only MP in Harare. Nyanhongo got his seat after Mugabe's gerrymandering, which saw a part of southern Harare filled with squatters on a chain of invaded farms. These squatters have been given pieces of land a 20 minute drive from the centre of Harare, so basically these are housing stands and not farming plots.
The thousands of people settled there toe a very specific party line. They are whipped into line weekly by ZANU PF political commissars who threaten that if they do not support the party that gave them the stands on which to build their houses, then these will be taken away. Most of them were tenants in one rooms around Harare's poor townships and they consider the stands they got to be their ticket out of abject penury. So, that is the background on Nyanhongo.
Mugabe likes Nyanhongo because, as he never tires of saying, he is the only ZANU PF MP able to mobilise support in the opposition stronghold of Harare. Mugabe has said that when all other MPs were campaigning for Simba Makoni, Nyanhongo is the only one who remained true. The June 18 report by the CIO on why Mugabe lost the March election to Tsvangirai also dwelt on this "treachery" by MPs and, as a direct result of the report, Mugabe decided that he would "fix" the MPs and ZANU officials after he had done his dirty work in the June run-off.
In comes Amos Midzi, the Provincial Chairman for Harare within ZANU PF. Midzi was seen by Mugabe as one of those who de-campaigned him in the March elections. In fact, Mugabe still thinks that Midzi is one of the people who are preparing to oust him at the ZANU PF congress due to be held this coming week. Now, Manyika went off and aligned himself with Midzi. Nyanhongo wanted to challenge Midzi for the Chair of the Harare Province but Midzi managed to get the backing of Manyika to block that challenge. As National Political Commissar, Manyika had the power (by proxy) to sort out any electoral disputes within the party. He ruled that Nyanhongo could not challenge Midzi.
Nyanhongo went straight to Mugabe and complained. Last Thursday, in a virtually unprecedented move, the politburo of ZANU PF, with Mugabe in the Chair, overruled Manyika, its own political commissar and specifically directed that Nyanhongo be allowed to run against Midzi. That basically guaranteed Nyanhongo the Chair of Harare Province for ZANU PF. It signalled to party supporters in the capital that Midzi was out of favour with Mugabe himself, whom most party members still look at as a demi-god. Less than 48 hours later, Manyika was dead.
Readers of this blog are intelligent people, more intelligent than me, I have come to realise, at times at my cost, so I leave you to connect the dots. As for those who think that Mugabe will step down from the presidency at the Congress this week, dream on. Just last week, the old man was thumping the green armrests of his sofa at his Helensvale home and declaring: "Without me, Zimbabwe is dead!" Dream on, I say, and put off your confrontation with the regime, waiting for Godot to come strolling by and hand you back your country.