THE President Emmerson Mnangagwa seriously considered quitting politics to go into private business in protest that Robert Mugabe had been pressured by fellow Cabinet Ministers Sydney Sekeramayi and Nathan Shamuyarira to block Mnangagwa from landing the Defence or State Security ministries.
By Mutsa Makuvaza and Andrew Murenha
According to declassified information in a telegraphic cable dated 14 March 1988 prepared by the US Embassy in Harare, Robert Mugabe had been influenced by a “Zezuru clique” fronted by Nathan Shamuyarira and Sydney Sekeramayi to deny Mnangagwa an appointment into any State security Ministry, leading to Mnangagwa being made Justice Minister, which he strongly disliked.
In January 1988, Mugabe announced a new Cabinet following the signing of the Unity Accord between his Zanu-PF Joshua Nkomo’s PF-Zapu. Mnangagwa, who since 1980 had been State Security Minister, was appointed Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Mugabe, who from 1980 had been Prime Minister and was now an Executive President, gave Mnangagwa’s State Security Ministry to Sekeramayi, further infuriating Mnangagwa who had considered himself much closer to Mugabe as he was his security advisor.
Reads the cables in part: “MNANGAGWA HAS BEEN A LONG-TIME ADVISOR TO MUGABE ON SECURITY MATTERS, AND SOURCES REPORT THAT HE EXPECTED TO BE NAMED MINISTER OF DEFENSE OR HOME AFFAIRS IN THE NEW CABINET.
“ACCORDING TO OUR SOURCES, A ZEZURU CLIQUE (LED BY NATHAN SHAMUYARIRA AND SIDNEY SEKERAMAYI) IN THE GOZ PERSUADED MUGABE NOT TO APPOINT MNANGAGWA, A KARANGA, TO A SECURITY MINISTRY.
“WE UNDERSTAND THAT MNANGAGWA WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH HIS NEW ASSIGNMENT AS JUSTICE MINISTER, ESPECIALLY SINCE JUSTICE’S MOST IMPORTANT TASK IN RECENT YEARS (I.E. DRAFTING THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS FOR ENDING RACIAL REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT AND ESTABLISHING AN EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY) HAS BEEN COMPLETED.
“WE HEARD THAT MNANGAGWA WAS EVEN CONSIDERING AT ONE POINT RETIRING FROM GOVERNMENT AND GOING INTO PRIVATE BUSINESS, BUT HE IS NOW SAID TO HAVE ACCEPTED HIS NEW POSITION. IT IS STILL NOT CLEAR, HOWEVER, IF MNANGAGWA WILL CONTINUE TO SERVE AS ZANU’S SECRETARY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.”
The cable went on to describe Sekeramayi in glowing terms saying he was a brilliant and intelligent young politician with a chance at being a future President of Zimbabwe.
“SEKERAMAYI IS A ZEZURU, WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE MAIN REASON IN COMBINATION WITH HIS PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AS THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENSE, FOR REPLACING MNANGAGWA AS THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.
“WE HAVE HEARD THAT SEKERAMAYI WAS, ALONG WITH NEW FOMIN (Foreign Minister) SHAMUYARIRA, ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE ZEZURU CLIQUE WHICH BLOCKED MNANGAGWA’S APPOINTMENT AS MINISTER OF DEFENSE. SEKERAMAYI CAN BE EXPECTED THEREFORE TO SUPPORT THE ZEZURU NOMINATION OF THE GOZ TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE KARANGA.
“HE IS AN IMPRESSIVE INDIVIDUAL IN CONVERSATION AND APPEARS BOTH BRIGHTER AND MORE ARTICULATE THAN MOST OF HIS COLLEAGUES. HE MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A POSSIBLE FUTURE PRESIDENT,” reads the document obtained by the Zimbabwe Voice from the Public Library of US Diplomacy.
As if the words by the US Embassy in Harare were prophetic, Mnangagwa was to later fight Sekeramayi 30 years later for the Presidency after the G40 faction pushed for media-shy Mashonaland East politician to succeed Mugabe. With backing from the General Constantino Chiwenga’s soldiers armed to the teeth and the boisterous war veterans as well as a gullible MDC opposition, Mnangagwa’s camp tactfully toppled Mugabe in 2017.
Former Zanu-PF propagandist Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is now in his third year in self-imposed exile, recently tweeted: “When I worked with Mnangagwa, he wasn’t a president and he had no presidential qualities. I worked with Mugabe, a great nationalist but weak policy implementer.”
In June 2017, five months before the military coup, Professor Moyo who was then a Zanu-PF Politburo member and Cabinet Minister, publicly endorsed Sekeramayi, then Defence Minister, to succeed Mugabe ahead of then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In prepared notes for his presentation at the Sapes Trust Policy Dialogue Forum titled “Whither the Nationalist Project in Zimbabwe?”, Moyo — speaking in his personal capacity — said Sekeramayi was a far better candidate to succeed Mugabe than Mnangagwa.
“The notion peddled by the so-called Team Lacoste that its leader is the only one who is above or senior to everyone else below President Mugabe is false and that falsehood should stop. There are others that are senior to the leader of the so-called Team Lacoste,” Moyo said.
“One of them, by way of an important example, is Dr Sydney Sekeramayi whose loyalty to President Mugabe, the party and country; whose liberation credentials, experience, consensus-style of leadership, stature, commitment to the nationalist project and humility have no match.
“So there are others. In fact, I must add that even Vice-President (Phelekezela) Mphoko is senior to the leader of the so-called Team Lacoste.
“I don’t think there is any rational person in Zimbabwe who is now not aware that the so-called Team Lacoste is presenting itself in general and its candidate, VP Mnangagwa in particular, as a shoo-in: Tapinda tapinda! (we have made it; we are in!) is their song punctuated with their refrain that mudhara achauya (our leader is coming),” Moyo said.
He went further and described Sekeramayi as “humble, grounded and someone who carried the stature of a president”, while on the other hand brutally savaging Mnangagwa.
While Sekeramayi remains a top Zanu-PF member and freely in Zimbabwe, Jonathan Moyo had to flee with his life when “his” preferred game plan came out unstuck.
Meanwhile, the March 1988 cable further gave the bio description of ED Mnangagwa as follows: “EMMERSON MNANGAGWA (ALSO SPELLED MUNANGAGWA) — TOOK OVER THIS PORTFOLIO FROM EDDISON ZVOBGO, WHO IS NOW ONE OF THE MINISTERS OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS ATTACHED TO ZANU HEADQUARTERS. MNANGAGWA IS A VETERAN ZANLA GUERILLA LEADER WHO, SINCE INDEPENDENCE, HAS SERVED AS THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.
“MNANGAGWA JOINED ZANU IN 1963, AND WAS AMONG THE FIRST GROUP OF FIVE ZANU GUERILLAS TO TRAVEL TO THE PRC FOR TRAINING. HE WAS ARRESTED BY THE RHODESIAN SECURITY FORCES IN 1965 AND WAS IMPRISONED UNTIL 1974.
“ONCE RELEASED, HE WENT TO ZAMBIA AND OBTAINED A LAW DEGREE. HE WAS ADMITTED TO THE ZAMBIAN BAR IN 1976. MNANGAGWA IS THE ZANU POLITBURO SECRETARY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY. HE IS MARRIED AND HAS FOUR CHILDREN.”
The same document further details Sekeramayi as follows: “SYDNEY SEKERAMAYI HAS TAKEN OVER MNANGAGWA’S FORMER POSITION AND OPERATES OUT OF THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE.
“SEKERAMAYI IS A PHYSICIAN BY TRAINING (HAVING BEEN ONE OF THE FIRST STUDENTS TO BE SPONSORED BY ZANU FOR OVERSEAS STUDIES IN THE 1960’S; HE STUDIED IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND SWEDEN WHERE HE OBTAINED HIS M.D.). HE BRIEFLY WORKED IN SWEDEN BEFORE MOVING TO SET UP HIS MEDICAL PRACTICE IN ZAMBIA, WHERE HE REMAINED UNTIL 1976 WHEN HE WENT TO UK FOR SPECIALIZED SURGICAL TRAINING.
“HE WAS RECALLED BY ZANU TO SERVE WITH ZANLA IN MOZAMBIQUE. HE JOINED THE ZANU CENTRAL COMMITTEE IN 1977. HE IS NOW A MEMBER OF THE POLITBURO AND SERVES AS THE PARTY’S SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT.
“IN 1980 SEKERAMAYI BECAME THE MINISTER OF LANDS, RESETTLEMENT, AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT. HE BECAME THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENSE IN FEBRUARY 1982 AND WAS THE ACTING MINISTER OF HEALTH.
“HE WAS FORMALLY APPOINTED AS MINISTER OF HEALTH IN JANUARY 1984 AND HELD THAT PORTFOLIO UNTIL THE FORMATION OF THIS NEW CABINET. SEKERAMAYI WAS BORN IN 1944 AND IS MARRIED.”
The US cable makes it clear that there has always been tribal tensions simmering in the ruling party since before Independence in 1980, and these were being used by the political grandmaster Robert Mugabe to keep his potential challengers at bay. – Zimbabwe Voice