Monday, September 28, 2009

The Return of the Professor.

Many Zimbabweans, Africans at large and those yonder, will know about the prof that they either love or love to hate. Professor Jonathan Moyo remains somewhat of an enigma which we non-rocket scientists battle to fully understand.

A quick browse at the links given on reveals an interesting concoction of a brilliant and not so brilliant resumé. Here is a man with a solid career in academia, having lectured at the University of Zimbabwe and Wits University ( A strong government critic at the time) and one who has done research for international giants such as the Kellog Foundation and the Ford Foundation. These research projects are however marred by allegations of "sticky fingering the till," of thousands of U.S dollars in research grants. At one stage Wits wanted the man nabbed as soon as he set foot on South African soil, though popular belief has it that later as a government minister, he was assisted to settle with those that he owed.

As independent MP (not aligned to any party) for Tsholotsho, his rural home constituency, "Jono" seems to be a low key political player nowadays, but not for much longer it seems. In his heyday at Zanu, many recall his meteoric rise from spokesman of the ill fated Constitutional Commission to Minister of Information in the Office of the President. Many are nostalgic about how he used his artistry with words to outwit political foes, have a ready answer for everything and at times make sense of the senseless. We recall how he worked tirelessly for the development of his much neglected constituency and greater province , how he brought in state support of local sport and music and lobbied for a Zimbabwean version of "local is lekker."

Others note with bile in their throats, the way he has continued to play political chameleon, fierce government and Zanu critic today, staunch supporter the next. Some recall with bitterness how this modern day apparition of the Nazi's Goebbels (or Sadaam's Comical Ali?) was the brains behind some of the most repressive legislation ever passed in the land. Laws that among other things, strangled independent press freedom. Even within Zanu, many cringe at this opportunist who became something of a de facto prime minister, stretching his influence way beyond his information/spin portfolio and answerable only to the president. His fall from Zanu grace must have triggered sighs of relief from some within the party.

Now tired of roaming the political wilderness where at times he has had to form alliances of support with Tsvangirai, Jono is set to return to the fold in Zanu. Some say he never left and believe that he has always been on a mission to divide the opposition by posing as one of them. Whatever the case, some will surely want to clip his wings to avoid another rapid ascent. Jono being the master schemer that he is, will obviously not settle for a junior position upon his return. It is interesting that already he has spun a yarn to justify his return. He says that his most recent departure was due to differences in "personalities, strategies and tactics," not differences in principles. ( The prof says these strategies and tactics can change to suit the situation at a particular time. He says that his post 2005 anti-government utterances, just like "scientific theories, are not biblical gospels!" hence can change. Since even Tsvangirai himself is working closely with Mugabe's party, he does not see why he cannot rejoin the party that he loves and work on reforming it from within.

As usual with Mr. Moyo, it sounds logical for a second, but I fear that is all it will last for, a mere second. He might have overplayed his card of being consistently inconsistent. Fairly or unfairly, he is labelled as the man who pulled a sinking Zanu from a murky quagmire in the early part of this decade through unpopular and draconian measures, to give it a new lease of life. Coupled with the enmity and mistrust that he created in the party itself, he has a steep climb ahead. We can only wish him luck and watch from the gallery with bated breath to see if the prof will churn out another winner from his test tube this time around!

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