THE embattled Jonathan Moyo has been one of the most controversial politicians in Zimbabwe. He was a strong critic of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, especially President Robert Mugabe, during his days as a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. But he became Mugabe’s hatchet man when he returned to Zimbabwe after a stint in Kenya and South Africa and joined Mugabe’s cabinet.
According to Wikileaks, soon after the 2000 elections which brought in Young Turks within ZANU-PF- some of whom like Jonathan Moyo and Nkosana Moyo were not elected but were appointed by Mugabe- there were concerted efforts for reform with some of the candidates not wanting Mugabe to contest the 2002 presidential elections.
But instead of taking calls for change on board, Mugabe and his lieutenants redoubled efforts to clamp down on dissent. One of Mugabe’s principal instruments was Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo.
Iden Wetherell, editor of The Independent, said Moyo mirrored Mugabe’s combative style and closely represented his thinking on most issues.
Mugabe circumvented the party and government structures by having Moyo issue statements that effectively countermanded directives from cabinet officials.
Moyo became so powerful that he was informally charged with reimposing discipline on wayward party officials in the provinces and even in cabinet.
But his shining star faded in 2004 following what was dubbed the Tsholotsho declaration at which senior members challenged Mugabe’s support for Joice Mujuru as Vice-President.
Moyo was expelled from the party shortly after that when he refused to surrender the Tsholotsho seat to a woman candidate, but surprisingly won the seat as an independent candidate.
Moyo stayed in the wilderness for almost five years before being allowed to rejoin the party in 2009, something that left a lot of people wondering how he had made it because stalwarts like Edgar Tekere had faced problems when they tied to rejoin the party.
Moyo, once again, became Mugabe’s hatchet man and was largely responsible for his election campaign for 2013 with Mugabe singling him out for praise after his victory.
But Moyo is now in trouble over the abuse of funds from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund. It is not yet clear how he will extricate himself from the current mess, but like his mentor, Mugabe, Moyo, has already proved that he too is a scheming survivor.
Below are the Wikileaks cables that mention Moyo’s name: