Jonathan Moyo relishes second chance

Jonathan Moyo relishes second chance
Published: 11 June 2015 (1170 Views)
AFTER losing his Tsholotsho North seat in July 2013 to the unheralded Roselyn Nkomo of the MDC-T, Professor Jonathan Moyo was like a disoriented heavyweight boxer just felled by a well-timed uppercut by an amateur.

Trying to make sense of an unexpected defeat, he triggered a flurry of legal activity, just as a glorified boxing champion would not bow out before wagging an accusing finger at the match referee or the judges.

Privately, as he surveyed the political disaster that had just unfolded - one which delighted even his internal Zanu-PF political opponents - Prof Moyo could not escape one overwhelming sentiment: he had taken his eyes off the ball and concentrated, wisely or unwisely, on the national picture as the party pulled all the stops to ensure President Robert Mugabe's re-election.

As the party's chief political strategist, Prof Moyo had burned the midnight oil - against serious internal and a determined external opposition - engineering a Supreme Court application which would force elections to be held in July 2013, dismantling an uneasy four-year coalition government with the MDC factions.

An unrelenting workaholic who finds sleep an inconvenience, he had extravagantly lent hundreds of man-hours to applying substance and polish to Zanu-PF's election manifesto.

Having precipitated an election which some, including the former Vice President Joice Mujuru opposed, Prof Moyo more than many carried the burden of ensuring President Mugabe's re-election.

Back home in Tsholotsho North, the MDC-T's Nkomo - ever present in the community with her NGO which gave villagers goats - was building a name for herself. Over and above the party name, you would be amazed what impresses a voter in rural Zimbabwe.

Yet Prof Moyo had done a lot for Tsholotsho. He had caused the construction of a GMB depot, lured CBZ to open a branch, mobilised funds for the widening and tarring of a 10km stretch of road close to Tsholotsho centre, launched the Sedjwick Irrigation Scheme on the banks of Gwayi River, caused the installation of tower lights in Tsholotsho centre, helped nine schools acquire A' Level status, built a clinic, sunk boreholes and paid for the education of dozens of underprivileged kids.

In the provincial capital, Lupane, Prof Moyo was instrumental in the establishment of Lupane State University - Matabeleland North's only tertiary education institution - whose logo he also designed.

You can understand his puzzlement then, when he narrowly lost by slightly over 200 votes to Nkomo, having done more, he felt, for the people of Tsholotsho North. The simple analysis, voters told us this week, was that Prof Moyo was out of sight. And as they say, 'out of sight out of mind'.

It was a harsh lesson that Prof Moyo - who was rewarded by President Mugabe with a Cabinet post- took to heart. The Information Minister was wallowing in that awareness, waiting for distant 2018 to make amends when Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC-T, threw him an unexpected lifeline with arguably one of the worst political blunders in political history.

Trying to settle a little spat with erstwhile colleagues, led by his former secretary general Tendai Biti, who peeled away to form MDC Renewal, having failed to get rid of the leader, Tsvangirai used parliamentary rules which ban 'floor-crossing' to recall them from parliament - triggering 14 by-elections, including in Tsholotsho North where Nkomo backed Biti.

Bizarrely, Tsvangirai - having taken the decision to recall the MPs - decided he would not field candidates to reclaim those seats, Zanu-PF believes because he feared a sure defeat. MDC Renewal also stayed out, fearful of a likely election mauling that would knock the sails off their ravaged political boat.

It was an unexpected fillip for Prof Moyo and his Zanu-PF party, which after its landslide victory in July 2013, still felt it had unfinished business in Tsholotsho North.

"Jonso, bring back our constituency. Bring it back home," Zanu-PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere excitedly demanded of Prof Moyo on Twitter back in March when the 14 MPs were kicked out of Parliament.

"Copied, National Commissar. This is a case of a lost but found constituency," Prof Moyo roared back.

In the ensuing months, and despite facing two little-known independent candidates, Gertrude Sibanda and Busani Ncube, who have links to the MDC-T, Prof Moyo literally camped in Tsholotsho – enlisting the help of his Tsholotsho South neighbour Zenzo Sibanda and politburo colleagues, among them Cdes Obert Mpofu, Sithembiso Nyoni, Cain Mathema, Jacob Mudenda, and Saviour Kasukuwere in an unprecedented canvassing blitz.

The coup de grace was delivered by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, who staged a historic joint rally on June 7 - the first time since Independence in 1980 that two Vice Presidents have canvassed for a candidate.

After many sleepless nights, missed Cabinet and Politburo meetings, Prof Moyo - a picture of relief - cast his ballot at Mlevu Primary School at around 8AM yesterday.

"This has been a blessing in disguise," he told The Chronicle. "It's been, if you will, if you're a person of faith, an act of God to correct what went horribly wrong in the general election in 2013 when the MDC-T smuggled itself into the constituency, brought someone who had neither interest nor capacity to represent this constituency. Someone who spent 20 months in Parliament mum with no word but collecting a monthly salary, getting a new car at the expense of the constituency."

He said at a time when Tsholotsho was faced with a number of problems including the havoc caused by wild animals, flooding and the drought stalking the villagers, which all require systematic and comprehensive assistance from the government, the former MP had no capacity to attend to the plight of the people. "But worse, having been elected on an MDC-T ticket, the former MP decided along with her husband to jump ship and heaven knows which ship she now is in because the ship jumping exercise seems to be continuing, but at the expense of the electorate here at this constituency in particular," said Prof Moyo.

"So the invisible hand, I mean no-one has been able to come up with a rational explanation as to why Tsvangirai expelled those people and I think it's because it was an act of God. The things that are done by the invisible hand of God don't need idle explanation from mortals but it was to help this constituency and benefit other constituencies far away in the process."

Prof Moyo said the campaign period had been useful in highlighting issues affecting the constituency.

"We've had quite robust discourses, there's now a better understanding on the part of the national leadership of very serious challenges that this community faces not only because of the consequences of the drought, which requires food assistance, but also because even when there's no drought, this area has persistent water problems for households, livestock, institutions like schools and clinics. This area has very serious road problems, which create transport difficulties and the movement of people has been a challenge," he said.

Prof Moyo said the campaign also highlighted the issue of people walking long distances to schools and clinics that also needed to be addressed.

"I'm sure we're going to make history now because this constituency has never been represented by the ruling party since the death of Vice President Joshua Nkomo in 1997. The last time this place was in Zanu-PF hands was when Vice President Nkomo was alive, and that's not a happy thing to have, reputation to have," he said.

"I believe we're on the verge of making history. For the first time in 20 years, this constituency will be represented by Zanu-PF and things will never be the same again. We're poised for a very bright future in Tsholotsho North against the background of a very dark past."

Prof Moyo rejects opposition claims that the polls were an unnecessary waste of scarce resources, which could be deployed elsewhere.

Instead, he said, the exercise was a shining example and expression of the country's constitutional democracy and affirmation that the rule of law is alive and well in Zimbabwe.

"The 14 by-elections were specifically triggered by a voluntary action on the part of the president of the MDC-T who, without being forced by anyone, without being prompted by anybody or anything, decided to expel 21 members of his party who were in Parliament," said Prof Moyo.

"Our constitution says once that happens, we must hold by-elections. It wasn't President Mugabe, it wasn't Zanu-PF, which expelled 21 MPs. It would've been irresponsible and unconstitutional for the institutions of the state to leave that matter unattended and therefore effectively have a significant number of constituencies unrepresented," said the American-educated former university lecturer.

"As a matter of fact, after he expelled the 21 members of his party, he went on to nominate seven who are from his party to fill the senatorial or proportional seats and this obviously shows that he was keen to follow the constitution only where he wouldn't face a contest, but in the National Assembly seats which require a contest because of the constituency representation, Tsvangirai and the MDC-T showed that they're electoral cowards. They just want to occupy positions without being challenged."

Prof Moyo said it was not about "electoral reforms" as so oft demanded by the MDC-T to explain its non-participation because the seven proportional representation seats were electoral seats, and Tsvangirai has filled them without the reforms he is talking about.

"He understands only too well that it's not about reforms. Reforms were brought into our body politic in May 2013 when the new Constitution started coming into effect. There can be no reforms bigger than the new Constitution, so any talk about reforms after the adoption of the new Constitution is just playing games with the people of Zimbabwe," said Prof Moyo.

Today, Prof Moyo will be declared winner with the "telling numbers" he predicted during the nomination court sitting in April. Our analysis of polling station results last night showed him on course to more than double his combined 2008 votes (3,532), when he stood and won as an independent and the 4,646-vote haul in July 2013 in the defeat to Nkomo.

Tsholotsho North voters have today handed Prof Moyo the biggest winning tally in the constituency's history, a humbling endorsement which is not lost on him.

"Beyond the poll," he said while answering a question on Twitter yesterday, "I'll be part of everyday life in the constituency. That, I promise!"


- chronicle

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