AT the Zanu-PF’s 2013 election manifesto launch in Highfield, Harare, now-disgraced politician Didymus Mutasa ate from the same plate with President Mugabe, one of the lucky few to sit and dine with the statesman.
As the country’s first speaker of parliament between 1980 and 1990 and afterwards as a minister heading a number of sensitive ministries, while also occupying the Zanu-PF secretary for administration’s post, Mutasa’s positions came with power and influence.
In 2004, he was appointed as Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office in charge of the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Programme and in April 2005, he was appointed State Security Minister following that year’s parliamentary election.
He was later appointed Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in the President’s Office and when the inclusive government was constituted in February 2009, he became the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, a position he held until last December following Zanu-PF’s Congress that rendered him an ordinary card carrying member.
On Wednesday, the Politburo expelled him from the party for various charges that include undermining the party and its leadership.
Mutasa had earlier lost his cabinet post after being named as one of those who worked with then Vice President Joice Mujuru in a plot to oust President Mugabe.
Yesterday political analyst Gideon Chitanga said despite Mutasa having reached the higher echelons of government, his exit from the corridors of power will not make a difference in the functioning of the government.
“The ministries that he led were the most sensitive, which is the first point. That shows that he was very close to the centre of power. He does not have a lot of options now. The door has been shut for him in Zanu-PF, whether he likes it or not,” said Chitanga.
The shifting political sands mean that even in Manicaland, where Mutasa was hitherto viewed by some as the province’s godfather, not many are likely to continue to make a beeline every weekend to his Rusape residence known in the province as “pagomo”, to beg for favours.
Didymus Noel Edwin Mutasa was born in Rusape on July, 27, 1935.
Between 1950 and 1956, he attended Goromonzi High School.
Before independence, Mutasa was the chairman of the Cold Comfort Farm society, a non-racial co-operative community near Harare’s Warren Park suburb.
He was imprisoned for two years between 1970 and 1972 at Chinhoyi Prison, before being transferred to Salisbury Remand Prison where he met President Mugabe and the late national heroes Edgar Tekere, Maurice Nyagumbo and others.
Former Central Intelligence Organisation boss and veteran freedom fighter Cde Shadreck Chipanga who was detained with Mutasa and President Mugabe at Salisbury Remand prison yesterday told The Chronicle that the former Presidential Affairs Minister was not involved in the formative years of the country’s liberation struggle.
“Mutasa was detained by the Smith regime for harbouring terrorists or undesirable elements because as chairman of Cold Comfort he had offered shelter to two university students who had escaped from Gonakudzingwa Prison. One of them who had escaped was Herbert Msika, the late vice President Joseph Msika’s young brother. That is when we met him at Salisbury Remand Prison,” said Cde Chipanga.
He added that before he was tried, Mutasa was released and went to the United Kingdom to study.
“In 1976, he was called by Edgar Tekere to Maputo. That is how he joined us,” added Cde Chipanga.
He said it was not surprising that Mutasa had been expelled from the party.
“I was not surprised and I think he was also not surprised that he was expelled. He was saying he was the real Zanu-PF and anyone he did not agree with he would say you can leave the party, go to hell that is why here (Manicaland province) is where it started that he should be expelled,” said Cde Chipanga.
It was not only politicians who felt that Mutasa was becoming too big for his boots.
There were allegations of corruption and violence, both from Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC-T.
In 2004, he was accused of unleashing terror to party supporters in Makoni who were backing war veteran James Kaunye who had intended to challenge him in Zanu-PF primary polls.
As Lands Minister, his distribution of land was questionable; there are allegations that many of his undeserving girlfriends benefited.
In 2007, he was involved in a bizarre hoax involving Rotina Mavhunga who claimed that refined diesel was gushing from a rock in Chinhoyi and he gave her a farm on that account.
When it comes to the mention of numerous girlfriends, he falls in the same league with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The late Manicaland Area prosecutor Levison Chikafu once said Mutasa was a powerful person in the province who was abusing his authourity and “his wings must be clipped to the greatest extent.”
But left out in the cold now, can Mutasa live to fight another day?
Chitanga said Mutasa’s integrity is at stake.
“He has said a lot of things to the public, including contesting Zanu-PF decisions so his personal integrity and credibility is at stake given that people would be watching to see how he will follow up on suggestions that he will take the legal route to seek recourse,” said Chitanga.