For eccentric Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Energy Mutodi, old habits die hard.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mutodi, a struggling sungura musician and controversial businessman before his meteoric rise that saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointing him deputy minister, always flourished by stirring controversy on social media.
At the tail end of former president Robert Mugabe’s rule last year, Mutodi was sued for claiming on Facebook that former Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi and ex-Health minister David Parirenyatwa poisoned Mnangagwa.
The then vice-president had fallen seriously ill during a July rally in Gwanda at a time when the fight over Mugabe’s succession had engulfed Zanu PF.
Mutodi also spent a couple of nights in police custody after he posted on Facebook that Mugabe could be overthrown in a coup if he did not handle the succession issue carefully.
And before the dust could settle following his controversial appointment, on September 10 Mutodi took to Twitter with a post that left many of his followers asking how he found himself on the Cabinet list.
“Government is following with keen interest the inflammatory statements passed by Nelson Chamisa, including his claim that he will be inaugurated on Saturday,” he tweeted soon after being sworn in.
“Any attempt to delegitimise government will not be tolerated and those bent on causing anarchy will be dealt with mercilessly.”
A day later, the man who rose to prominence after pictures of him and Mnangagwa drinking from a mug inscribed “I am the boss” leaked, sparking Mugabe’s fury, was back on Twitter labelling MDC-run councils as “breeding homes for cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases”.
Mutodi’s tweets sparked questions about whether the president had made the right choice by appointing him to such a crucial ministry, but the Goromonzi West legislator insists he is the best man for the job.
“A lot is happening around us both internally and externally and it takes people with the correct analysis skills to manage the information portfolio,” he claimed.
“Over the past years, my writings have been predictive in nature, factual and correct.”
Mutodi claimed that through his Facebook posts he predicted Mnangagwa’s rise at a time when some had written the former Justice minister off.
“I will not shed light on some of the things I predicted, but it is an open secret that I predicted this new dispensation, particularly that the then vice-president ED Mnangagwa would be president of Zimbabwe and also that he would appoint the then Defence Forces commander Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi as his deputies,” he said.
“I also further predicted that the then president R G Mugabe would be removed from office if he failed to manage his succession properly.
“Now these things have come to pass and it should then not surprise you to see that President Mnangagwa has entrusted me with the information portfolio as deputy minister.”
Mutodi claimed that his Facebook posts were meant to convince Mugabe that he would be safer if he chose Mnangagwa as his successor.
“However, when this was opposed and resisted by G40 elements, it was time to prove that indeed Mnangagwa was ready to take over as president,” he said.
“I will hasten to tell you that the then vice-president ED Mnangagwa didn’t want to show the world that he had presidential ambitions because of his loyalty to his boss whom he viewed as his father and mentor.”
Mutodi said he posed for the infamous “I am the boss” mug picture at the president’s rural homestead because he already knew that the Zanu PF leader would be “the people’s choice for president”.
He said he considers “social media as a modern tool for expressing oneself and not necessarily as a tool to fight wars”.
“I was hounded out of the party (Zanu PF) on suspicion that I was fighting in a certain corner that was undesirable.
“I was jailed and humiliated in public,” Mutodi said. “My only weapon then was social media.
“So you see that it was not deliberate, but rather it was a fight for survival.”
He defended his tweets attacking Chamisa and the MDC Alliance.
“There is nothing that I have said since my appointment that will infuriate any reasonable person,” he said.
“However, if my tweets do not send tongues wagging, I would not be useful and effective as I must be.
“I am happy if all sorts of things are said about me. It means I am relevant and I concern and impact the lives of those who hear me.”
He claimed his critics were stuck in “the old order” where freedom of expression was a privilege and not a right.
Mutodi, a third year law student at the University of Zimbabwe, has been in and out of the courts on allegations of swindling members of a housing scheme.
He studied geography and war studies at the same institution and is doing a PhD with the University of Cape Town. Mutodi said he would quit singing following his appointment as deputy minister.
Source: The Standard