Former Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri (Retired) has been reportedly “anointed” by former president Robert Mugabe and former First Lady Grace Mugabe as the leader of the G40 cabal’s new political project, New Patriotic Front (NPF), after a meeting at the former First Family’s residence at the Blue Roof Mansion in Borrowdale on Thursday last week, senior Government sources have said.
Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd) then made an announcement the following day on Friday that he was leaving Zanu-PF on flimsy reasons about the new dispensation, despite that he had shown eagerness to participate since the military intervention in November last year.
The former minister, who has been described as “doubly beholden” to Cde Mugabe after he was rescued twice from political oblivion, is understood to be in the process of recruiting new members to the political enterprise, which is believed to be a mutated version of the G40 group.
Sources said those that have since been conscripted include Messrs Walter Mzembi and Jappy Jaboon in Masvingo, Makhosini Hlongwane in the Midlands province and Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, Edgar Mbwembwe and Mrs Beatrice Nyamupinga in Mashonaland East.
Eunice Sandi Moyo, who ironically was haunted out of Zanu-PF’s Women’s League by Mrs Mugabe, is understood to be the outfit’s proxy in Matabeleland.
She, together with Hlongwane and Eng Mzembi, also reportedly visited the Blue Roof mansion on Friday last week, which the source said has now evolved to become “a cell to launch opposition politics”.
It is believed that Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd) is being used as a Trojan Horse of the First Family – which is desperate to protect its unravelling “sprawling business empire” that includes a haul of 21 farms, local and foreign investments, including claims of Black Granite in Mutoko – because of perceived appeal to the Matabeleland region.
“On Thursday last week, Mutinhiri had a meeting with the former president (Robert Mugabe) and the former First Lady at their Blue Roof (residence) at which the issue of launching the National Patriotic Front was the subject matter, and the fact that he was invited to the Blue Roof meant obviously that the former president and his wife are part and parcel of the New Patriotic Front, which means they have been working in cahoots with Jonathan (Moyo), (Patrick) Zhuwao and (Saviour) Kasukuwere in order to rescue their G40 project,” said the source, who cannot be named for professional reasons.
“And the decision of that meeting was that Ambrose Mutinhiri was then appointed or anointed as the interim leader of the New Patriotic Front. Obviously, there is still a presumption that former president Mugabe retains an appeal and, therefore, anoints leadership to this new, old political formation. This is G40 by a different name.
“And the idea being to appropriate the Patriotic Front in order to give it the decency and resonance of the liberation struggle so as to undermine Zanu-PF during the forthcoming elections.”
It is believed that Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd) will assume leadership in the interim before Mrs Mugabe eventually takes over, as was previously mulled before the military intervention in November.
It has also been revealed for the first time that while Cde Mugabe, in his initial political estimation, was preparing the ground for his wife’s eventual takeover of State power, Prof Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere – key members of the G40 faction – were also angling to eventually take over from the Mugabes.
But Brig-Gen Mutinhuri (Rtd), the source said, has been hand-picked by the former President as he is also considered to be a stop-gap and “safe pair of hands”.
“Well, Ambrose is a stop-gap; he is viewed as, one, a stop-gap, and a safe pair of hands, whilst G40 is reorganising itself following the state of disarray which it suffered in November last year,” said the source.
“He is a safe pair of hands because his chequered past in Zapu, which included defection to Frolizi, makes him a weaker candidate in the long-term future, and in fact at Independence, Ambrose Mutinhiri was rejected by Zapu; in fact, he sinks into oblivion in his rural home in Mahusekwa until he is rescued by former president Mugabe, who then gives him a job, which culminates in his appointment as an ambassador.
“In order words, historically, he stands rejected by his original party, but historically he also stands beholden to the former president for rescuing him, which means in terms of the NPF’s calculation, he enters into this structure not as a substantive leader, but as the nearly man of G40 politics.”
Though Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd) was previously linked to the Gamatox faction of Zanu-PF, which was led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru and purged at the party’s December 2014 Congress, he was rescued by the former president who, in his “typical divide and rule” style, promoted him the Minister of State for Mashonaland East in order to weaken Dr Mujuru’s party, then known as Zimbabwe People First.
It is also believed that Cde Mugabe has since made an undertaking to introduce him around the country as the interim leader of the New Patriotic Front.
Added the source: “So, he is a man who is doubly beholden from history and from contemporary politics. So, they met on Thursday and he was designated the interim leader. And then there was a commitment by the former president to take him around the country in order to introduce him as the interim leader of the New Patriotic Front in the absence of Jonathan Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwao.”
Yesterday, the Mashonaland East-based politician reportedly met Cde Mugabe – believed to be anxious to stage a “second coming” using Mutinhiri as a proxy – again at the Blue Roof mansion in the company of former Zimbabwe People’s First spokesperson Mr Jealousy Mawarire and a Mr Shephard Nyakudanga and Mr Nyasha Vera.
The relatively unknown trio are being roped in as the technical team that will, however, be equally hand-held by the self-exiled trio of Zhuwao, Moyo and Kasukuwere.
Mr Mawarire yesterday said he could not give a comment at night, while Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Retired) was not picking up his phones.
“Essentially, what it means is it’s the former president who is trying to stage a ‘second coming’ behind the person of the dutiful and beholden Ambrose Mutinhiri,” said the source. “And the hope, of course, is as it were revalorise the character of his wife.”
The former First Lady is reportedly desperate to protect the family business empire.
“Revamping the G40 project, which is obviously destroyed beyond redemption, is meant to secure their sprawling investments, which they thought Mai Mugabe would mind having either wrestling or legitimise wrestling the power through Kasukuwere,” said the source.
“There is an issue of farms that they (Mugabes) have ben leasing to whites. Here was a President who was preaching one-person, one-farm, but who has 21 farms. But a good number which was being leased to white farmers. And he knows that the new Government will have to want to choose one out of the 21.
“But some of his investments, including the dairy and the children’s project, were benefiting from a blurred accounting system between those business propositions and State coffers. Now, they are worried that unless they recapture State power, all those projects will crumble.”
There are also reports that after attempts by the New Patriotic Front to lobby regional bodies such as Sadc and African Union came unstuck, the grouping decided to bring their political project in the open.
Cde Mugabe’s new endeavours, sources say, were disingenuous since he is the same person actively asking for his pension, while at the same time relaunching himself as an “active opposition leader”.
“What is noteworthy is that the former president, who by the way is being pushed by the First Lady, on one level seeks to enjoy the package of retirement as a former Head of State, while relaunching himself as an active opposition leader in the present,” said the source.
“He wants a Zanu-PF Government to continue to look after him, to continue to feed him at Blue Roof, which he has turned into a cell to launch opposition politics.
“Whether or not the new order will continue to be that generous, that remains to be seen because essentially what he is doing is to spurn overtures of goodwill which have been shown him in the vain hope that there is still an appetite for a political Robert Mugabe.
“But that is an illusion that he still thinks he is popular.”
It is believed that New Patriotic Front’s agenda was not to win the elections, but to spoil the victory for Zanu-PF, but the chances are understood to be waning by the day.
“This new formation, which the former president is trying to launch, at huge cost to himself, will have to battle the MDC Alliance and vanquish it; and will have to battle Zanu-PF and vanquish it in order to restore G40. It’s a tall order,” explained the source.
“The second side is that this amnesty that was declared of people who externalised funds and who were using Zimbabwe money to buy properties abroad is making them anxious. Not to say they are guilty. What it is that is making them anxious, we will probably know on the 19th.
“It’s not fortuitous that there is a frantic effort to relaunch themselves politically ahead of the March 19 deadline, where names will be published, and ahead of a soon-to-be-made approach for them to decide on one farm and drop the other 20, which include the farm of former High Court judge, Ben Hlatswayo.”