HARARE – Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF secretary for administration, has emerged as a kingmaker in the ruling party as his word seems to have become the law in the 50-year-old liberation movement.
Before Zanu PF’s extraordinary politburo meeting held last Saturday, there was discord in the party, with rival factions contradicting each other on whether controversial elections held in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and the Midlands would stand.
Mutasa then threw down the gauntlet, saying the results will stand.
At the end of the day, Mutasa emerged the winner as Mugabe concurred with him that the election results would not be nullified. It is now clear that Mutasa is the man Mugabe listens to.
Last week, Mutasa almost foretold what the outcome of the politburo meeting would be and his predictions were spot-on.
“MuZanu PF hatishande tichiita zvekudzokera kumashure, zvatawirirana ndizvozvo (In Zanu PF we don’t work in reverse gear, whatever we would have agreed upon will be final),” he told the Daily News.
A rival faction which had attacked Mutasa in the media, was pushing for a re-run of the hotly-contested elections and even accused the 78-year-old politician from Manicaland Province of having jumped the gun by upholding poll results before they were tabled in the politburo.
Apart from proving to be a key member of Zanu PF, Mutasa also demonstrated his grit and mettle by declaring that elections in the seven provinces would be held this year. The extraordinary politburo upheld that decision as well.
Senior officials such as Ignatious Chombo were pushing for elections to be held next year as they sought to regroup and make amends following the chaos that characterised the party’s elections in most provinces.
But Mutasa and his comrades convinced Mugabe that elections should be held in accordance to his plans.
The kingmaker role in Zanu PF has for long been held by the late liberation icon Solomon Mujuru, who was found dead after an inexplicable inferno two years ago.
The late Mujuru was husband to vice president Joice Mujuru, who Mutasa is currently backing to ascend to the presidency once Mugabe retires.
Mutasa is said be eyeing the vice president post, in the event Mujuru ascends to the presidency.
Riding on the coattails or epaulets of her husband Mujuru, whose non de guerre name was Rex Nhongo, the country’s first vice president became second in command in Zanu PF in 2004. Now the likes of Mutasa have boldly declared that she has the qualities to succeed Mugabe as they root for her against bitter rivals.
Mujuru reportedly leads a faction of moderates that is engaged in an epic feud to succeed Mugabe with another camp reportedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
So far, those aligned to Mujuru, including Mutasa, have emerged victors in the provincial polls held in Mashonaland Central province, Midlands and Manicaland.
However, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo has dismissed any link between the provincial elections with the succession issue.
Despite Moyo’s words, insiders in the revolutionary movement say there is intense jockeyeing behind the scenes to influence the outcome of provincial elections, which will be held this Saturday in the remaining seven provinces.
Elected provincial chairpersons will be crucial next year when Zanu PF goes to a potentially decisive congress, with presidium posts up for grabs.
Last year, 89-year-old Mugabe confessed that he now feels lonely as he is now surrounded by young people, with the majority of his peers mostly dead.
He however, singled out Mutasa, 11 years his junior, as the only politician who comes close to him in terms of age and with whom he could talk “about how we used to approach girls or we would go to this and that place, riding bicycles.”