When I wrote this open letter to President Robert Mugabe in February 2019, I was painfully aware that we unlikely to celebrate a further birthday with him. Looking back at it, I am happy that I wrote and even happier that it remains relevant three years later
By Patrick Zhuwao
Zete @95 to Zana: Bob’s Always Been Your Uncle
Open Letter to President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Zhuwao Brief Reloaded 28 (ZBR28). Patrick Zhuwao. 21st February 2019
This open letter to you Gushungo, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, is to wish you a happy birthday as you turn 95 on your way to a century; makati zete muchienda kuzana (relaxed on your way to a century).
I am honoured to have worked intimately with you. I am very elated that history will record me as one of very few senior leaders that consistently stood by you publicly and privately.
I am proud to have served in your government as a cabinet minister for two years and a deputy minister for three years. I am gratified to have been an officer bearer under the civilian ZANU PF that you led from the time I was elected into the District Executive at Porta Farm in 1996 and rose up the ranks to be a Politburo member until 2017.
Those 21 years as a leader in ZANU PF, Parliament and Government gave me the opportunity to know you, appreciate the environment that you operated within, and understand the forces that you had to contend with. Unfortunately, a very large number of people, especially the younger ones, have only had to see you through the eyes of your detractors to a point where they profess themselves on you within an envelope of misinformation, ignorance and conjecture. Most of the people who interacted with you, including senior leaders, are not able to honestly tell your story because they remain terrorised and traumatised under a militarily captured ZANU PF and the militarised state of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, Gushungo, when we engaged with you as senior leaders, we considered such interactions as privileged discussions which we feel cannot be divulged without your express consent. As a result, the story of Zimbabwe and your participation in shaping our beautiful nation is being distorted. Worse still, all of those who supported the November 2017 coup nationally, regionally, continentally and globally have come to the sad realisation that the so-called MILITARILY ASSISTED TRANSITION was in effect a negation of the conclusion of a democratisation process that would have put the principles of the 2013 Constitution into effect.
Whilst some of us who were privileged enough to be aware of and agree with your plans on ZANU PF succession know that the November 2017 coup was in effect a MILITARILY INTERRUPTED SUCCESSION. Having had dinner with you and Honourable Saviour Kasukuwere at your Blue Roof Residence, I know for a fact that you planned on supporting Dr Sidney Sekeramayi to succeed you. From telephone conversations that you held with Professor Jonathan Moyo and myself jointly, I also know for a fact that you have never supported the notion of your wife taking over.
Some of the people that saw hope in the November 2017 coup are so emotionally scarred by the knowledge that they supported a misadventure that is worsening the plight of Zimbabweans. They did not understand what you meant and why you would consistently say that politics leads the gun and that the gun should never lead politics.
They are not aware of how you attempted to forestall the military takeover of ZANU PF and in effect the country to a point where Zimbabwe is a now a military state. They are not even aware of your attempts, months before the coup, to request some regional leaders to speak to Chiwenga to accept Dr Sekeramayi as a successor instead of his plan to have Mnangagwa succeed you and him becoming deputy.
I am aware that divulging these issues is tantamount to betraying confidential conversations. I have had to do so in order to buttress my request for you to record your views, thoughts and perspectives. There are several of your former colleagues that are constrained from setting the record straight until you have done so yourself first. People need you to remind them of how you always stood by them and tried to protect them.
You remain an indomitable icon to those that understand and appreciate you. However, I would like to request you to record your views and perspectives in order to assist those that have not been fortunate to know enough about you, what you believe in, what you stand for and what you have achieved. Happy birthday Gushungo.
Dear Zimbabweans, please know that President Mugabe tried to fight off the militarisation of our country. Bob’s ALWAYS been your uncle.
Asante Sana. Iwe Neni Tine Basa. Umsebenzi lo Umkhulu.