Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) in the 2009-13 Government of National Unity (GNU), Arthur Mutambara, has sensationally claimed that the late former President Robert Mugabe was a sophisticated tribalist who pushed for his Zezuru clansmen to occupy key positions in government and quasi-government institutions.
Mutambara, however, described President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the crudest tribalist.
He made the remarks at the launch of his latest book, Ideas and Solutions: In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream, in Bulawayo last Friday.
Mutambara said there was a lot of tribalism in Zimbabwe.
“Clansmanship, ethno-nationalism, ethnicity, those words are there, people say no, you do not use tribalism, it’s an old term,” Mutambara said.
“There is tribalism in Zimbabwe. Mugabe was a tribalist, a bit sophisticated. This one (ED) is very crude, the current leader is a crude tribalist clansman, we need to fix that,” he said.
“In my book, you get to hear Mugabe say ‘My Zezuru Group’. He tells me a story that ‘when I came out of jail, and I went to Mozambique with (nationalist Edgar) Tekere, my ambition was to go to Ghana to see where my son was buried.’ So, he was isolated by Samora Machel; Samora did not trust Mugabe for 19 months,” he said.
Mutambara further revealed that Machel later allowed Mugabe and his people to travel to London.
He said Mugabe told him that when he went to London, he was surrounded by Zezurus who asked him what he was doing in the party of Karangas and Manyikas.
The former DPM said Mugabe further told him that the Zezurus also urged him to leave Zanu and join Abel Muzorewa, where his clansmen were based.
He said Mugabe told him that he urged Zezurus to re-join Zanu, leading to all of them re-joining the party.
“What I am saying to you is there is a serious problem of ethnicity in this country,” Mutambara said.
He also revealed that his book will explain why issues like the Gold Mafia happen in government.
“My book will explain to you why these things happen. My book will show you why we have tribalism in Zimbabwe. My book will show you why Zunaid Moti paid the Vice-President and the President for the coup and paid the judge. My book will explain those farms,” Mutambara said.
He said he offered solutions through his book because it was not enough to criticise and describe problems.
“We need a redemptive paradigm for Zimbabwe, for Africa and for the global south. As we criticise, let’s also have solutions,” he said.
Mutambara described Mugabe as an academic who loved education.
“I have a doctorate from Oxford and he liked this man who went to school,” quipped Mutambara.
“I am a history buff, I love history. Mugabe liked telling stories. I would say to him tell me about Joshua Nkomo, tell me about Tongogara, tell me about Ndabaningi Sithole and he would sing.
“He was very good with old stuff. His memory on current matters was very poor, but in old stuff he was great so he liked me so we used to get along well.”
Mutambara said Mugabe liked him because he was principled.
“If it’s a no, it’s a no; if it’s a yes, it’s a yes. I would not change when I go outside the room. Some of his friends (pointing at Gorden Moyo) would change. With me, once I decide no Mugabe, it’s a no,” he said.
Mutambara lamented that the economic situation in Zimbabwe has criminalised everyone.
“Arbitrage has the danger of making everyone a criminal,” he said.
Mutambara also noted that the GNU failed to deliver reforms, with opposition political leaders only succeeding in the Constitution-making process.
“We are where we are today because of the failure of the Government of National Unity to deliver political reforms, that is one definite failure. We were very successful on the Constitution and on the economy.
“We were so committed to a fault, Zanu PF were saying ‘let these fools help us revive the economy and we dump them’ and they dumped us in 2013. We were naive in a way as ministers in the GNU,” he added.