Mugabe reinstates Moyo to Zanu-PF leadership

Jonathan Moyo, the controversial spin doctor expelled from Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF, is on the political comeback trail.

At Zanu-PF’s national conference in Mutare before Christmas, President Robert Mugabe recalled him to the party’s politburo, its highest decision-making body.

It was an indication of Moyo’s reviving political fortunes in what he once described as “a party of octogenarians”—he was last in the 50-member politburo in February 2005 before Mugabe fired him from government. But judging by the roar of applause that met his reappointment, as well as the smiles of party officials and the gyrating women who welcomed him back, Zanu-PF and its “Dear Leader” are prepared to forgive and forget.

Mugabe told delegates: “I don’t want to call him a prodigal son. He is back as he was working in the party; he has talent and I am sure we will be satisfied with his work.”

With elections expected this year, Zanu-PF will need Moyo’s “talent” as a former spin doctor in government to drive the party’s propaganda machine.

Political observers acknowledge that he was instrumental in securing the presidency for Mugabe in 2002 amid a wave of anti-Zanu-PF sentiment among voters.

Moyo’s role
Although Zanu-PF did not immediately announce Moyo’s role in the politburo, media reports tipped him for the post of deputy political commissar, a post left vacant by the death of Ephraim Masawi last year.

This would be a new chapter in his zig-zagging 10-year political career in which he has been a government spokesperson, Zanu-PF information and publicity minister, an amateur musician who crafted the incessant pro-Mugabe jingles aired every five minutes on the state broadcaster, an ardent critic of Mugabe and on two occasions Zimbabwe’s sole independent legislator for the Tsholotsho North constituency.
His oscillating loyalties led Mugabe to label him a “deviant”.

Moyo was also the alleged architect of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act. He orchestrated the closure of several independent newspapers in 2003.

In 2004 Moyo fell out of favour with Mugabe for allegedly organising the Tsholotsho Declaration where he lobbied several Zanu-PF bigwigs to support the appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice-president at its December national conference ahead of current incumbent Joyce Mujuru. An angry Mugabe fired him and suspended several party officials linked to the succession plot.

Last year, however, Moyo rejoined Zanu-PF and began to dress down the Movement for Democratic Change, accusing it of working with the United States to set up a parallel government to effect regime change.

Ironically, Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC assisted Moyo’s re-election in 2008 as an independent legislator for Tsholotsho North by not fielding its own candidate in that constituency, on the understanding that Moyo would side with the MDC in Parliament. But Moyo has continued to be critical of the MDC. In the latest example he pounced on the WikiLeaks disclosures to claim that they prove MDC collaboration with American imperialism.

Moyo told the Mail & Guardian: “We want elections now, as this unity government is already unworkable.

It is a tragedy that President Mugabe has to sit in Cabinet with Morgan Tsvangirai who then goes to plot with America to effect illegal and systematic regime change in the country. And you guys want to give Tsvangirai the Nobel peace prize.”

Ray Ndlovu

Ray Ndlovu

Ray Ndlovu has been a correspondent for the Mail & Guardian in Zimbabwe since 2009. His areas of interest include politics and business. With a BSc honours degree in journalism and media studies, Ray aspires to become a media mogul.   Read more from Ray Ndlovu

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