Political science students at the University of Zimbabwe from 1988 to 1993 would have hardly believed that their lecturer, Jonathan Moyo, would one day work with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and, much worse, become one of his staunchest supporters.
But six years later, Moyo was appointed to Mugabe’s 400-member Constitutional Commission tasked with coming up with the country’s new constitution and became the commission’s spokesman.
The proposed constitutional was rejected in February 2000 but Moyo had done such a good job for Mugabe that he was appointed Minister of Information following the 2000 Parliamentary elections.
Moyo’s appointment to the powerful post, which fell under the President’s office, even got the United States embassy in Harare worried because, he had just turned from one of Mugabe’s strongest critics to one of his staunchest supporters.
Mugabe, who had narrowly defeated the new opposition Movement for Democratic Change, had appointed what looked like a reformist cabinet, with young technocrats like Moyo, Finance Minister Simba Makoni and Industry Minister Nkosana Moyo.
But the US embassy warned that it was afraid that no one would be able to silence the ZANU-PF “splenetic spin doctor during the failed constitutional review process”.
“He may shoot down any good economic ideas that ministers Makoni and (Nkosana) Moyo may have and could poison relations with the donor community,” the embassy warned.
That is exactly what happened. Nkosana Moyo left 10 months after being appointed and Makoni was fired in 2002.
Jonathan Moyo sent jitters through the NGO community when he told them that those who did not cooperate with the government “would be cut off at the knees”.
In that short span of time, Moyo became so powerful that he was one of the most feared people by ZANU-PF colleagues and was even described as Mugabe’s hatchet man. But two years later he was kicked out of the party when he decided to contest a parliamentary seat in Tsholotsho against the party’s wishes.
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