AFTER spending a few years outside ZANU-PF, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo bounced back in 2008 and famously declare: “It’s cold out there.”
By Andrew Kunambura
Earlier this year, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa also famously declared: “If you get out of ZANU-PF, your life will wilt like a leaf plucked off a tree branch.”
Both men were once victims of ruthless ZANU-PF succession wars.
After being fingered in the infamous Tsholotsho debacle in which they were accused of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe ahead of the December 2004 congress, Moyo was expelled from the ruling party along with many other party officials during an episode that became famously known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
Mnangagwa, who was then battling against Joice Mujuru for the Vice Presidency, was demoted — from being secretary for administration to the secretary for legal affairs.
Moyo’s case was, however, more striking — he went on to represent himself in the 2005 parliamentary elections and won the Tsholotsho North seat, retaining it again as independent in 2008, before losing it as a ZANU-PF candidate in 2013.
In June this year, he reclaimed the seat — as a ZANU-PF candidate.
And now the tide has turned.
Mnangagwa, Moyo and their Dinyane comrades are back in full force; and at their mercy are those who tormented them a decade ago — among them — Webster Shamu.
As if to confirm utterances attributed to Mnangagwa and Moyo, Shamu has starkly refused to keep his head low and continues to fight for his second coming, or his third coming to be precise — despite the public humiliation he has endured in his spirited but faltering bid to bounce back.
Third coming because Shamu resigned from the national broadcaster on corruption allegations in the late 1980s and only returned to the limelight a few years later, but not before changing his name from Charles Ndlovu to Webster Shamu.
He was thrown back to the wilderness last year when he lost his influential commissariat position and his job in government where he was Information and Communication Technology Minister after he was accused of working with others in alleged plots against President Mugabe.
He is currently serving a five-year suspension from ZANU-PF.
But unlike his erstwhile colleagues who seem to have accepted their fate and moved on with their lives, Shamu continues poking his nose in ZANU-PF business.
The most recent episode in his latest life of humiliation was staged on Monday when the disgraced former minister pitched up at the National Heroes Acres with his wife (also serving suspension from ZANU-PF) to commemorate Heroes Day and walked straight to the VIP tent and set themselves on top seats.
But their joy was short-lived as State security agents ordered them off, saying Shamu was no longer a government minister and therefore did not deserve a place at the high table.
In shame, they stepped down to occupy empty seats in the sun, just outside the tent reserved for chiefs from where they followed proceedings.
Shamu and wife were not part of the top officials who went around the heroes’ graves laying wreaths.
He was later seen conversing briefly with Saviour Kasukuwere, his successor as commissar of ZANU-PF, before the couple became part of the early departures.
Shamu must have disappointed the press, which has been feasting on his embarrassments when he failed to turn up at the National Sports Stadium for the Defence Forces Day on Tuesday.
But his relentless attempts to bounce back in ZANU-PF led many to suspect that he misses the warmth of being in power and in control.
Ordinarily, occasions such as these would have brought out the best in him as he sang excessive praises to President Mugabe, never shy to compare him with any pleasant thing, even Cremora, the Nestle coffee and tea creamer.
While his former allies in the Mujuru camp boycotted the congress in December, Shamu made sure to grace every minute of it, albeit casting a forlorn figure upfront where he set himself against the thousands that mocked and indicted him.
There was no platform for him to exercise his excessive bootlicking antics.
But why is the former minister fighting so hard to get back into the very same system that spewed him out?
Could it be that he is trying to escape the cold out there?
Analysts this week said Shamu’s nagging desire to rejoin a system that rejected him not so long ago was mainly driven by the need for economic survival.
While not much is known about his business interests, just like all the heavyweights in ZANU-PF, he boasts of a farm in Mashonaland West allocated to him as part of the land reforms.
History has shown that once you leave the party or are suspected of dinning with its rivals, party apparatchiks will go after the property since all land belongs to the State.
It may therefore be that Shamu could be fearful of losing the property.
Apart from the farm, Shamu is also linked to a hunting safari concession. All hunting concessions fall under the Parks and Wildlife department, which issues out permits.
He also operates a service station on the periphery of one of Harare’s industrial sites.
The little that is known about Shamu’s business interests tends to suggest that his commercial exploits are intricately linked to ZANU-PF’s patronage system.
To continue benefiting from it, it makes sense for him to continue singing praises of the party lest the system might turn against him.
Political commentator, Rashweat Mukundu, said Shamu’s behaviour was evidence of the psychology of ZANU-PF – those who have benefited from it cannot see any other means of survival outside it.
“It smacks of someone who is extremely desperate to abandon his new lifestyle,” Mukundu said.
“It clearly shows that something is wrong with the political architecture in Zimbabwe. To me the key motivation for Shamu to get back to ZANU-PF is economic survival, which makes many wonder if these people even plan for life outside power. It could be interesting to check with Shamu’s former colleagues like Didymus Mutasa, Jabulani Sibanda and Rugare Gumbo to see if they are managing outside ZANU-PF. Probably they are in the same predicament,” he added.
A prominent political analyst who declined to be named said the former ZANU-PF political commissar’s esoteric behaviour could be explained in terms of the complex ruling party patronage system which enslaves its members to the extent that they cannot see life outside the system.
“Shamu is an abject victim of the patronage system under which he has survived since his Mozambique days. You will remember that he left the country to join the liberation struggle under unclear circumstances during the 1970s,” he said.
“His whole life has been sustained by that system. He cannot even breathe outside ZANU-PF,” added the analyst.