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SB Moyo: Mugabe coup anchor turned face of diplomacy

by Staff reporter
21 Jan 2021 at 06:39hrs | Views
"We wish to assure the nation that His excellency, the President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed," these were some of the words from the then Major-General Sibusiso "SB" Moyo.

on November 15, 2017, many Zimbabweans woke up to see a new television presenter dressed in military fatigue, tanks rolling on the street of the capital and the once feared Mugabe under house arrest.

"We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes ... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy," Moyo added.

The "criminals" he referred to included former ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Mandiitawepi Chimene, Patrick Zhuwao and Walter Mzembi, among others who were all part of a Zanu-PF faction known as the G40 that had coalesced around Mugabe and his wife, former First lady Grace.

In September 2018, hardly a year after he announced a coup that led to the ouster of Mugabe, Moyo was rumoured dead.

He was to be a victim of "fake news" but at that time, Moyo was visibly unwell amid speculation that he was poisoned in the internecine Zanu-PF fights as he was touted as favourite to succeed President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

That's how he was revered in Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF politics, as a player for the top games with the capacity to lead the country at some stage.

But death has snatched him and his growing political career at the age of 61.

The career soldier became the face of the military coup with his booming voice that announced the ouster of Mugabe, making him an instant hero and at that time, no one thought he could be a face of Zimbabwean diplomacy.

He had been battling a kidney ailment requiring regular dialysis and died yesterday morning at a local private hospital, according to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Moyo was regarded as a fast thinker, very intelligent and candid by his peers in government who was determined to have Zimbabwe re-engage with other countries but his desire was largely frustrated by violent acts by the Zanu-PF regime working with State agents, developments that angered the West.

Moyo leaves behind his wife, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo and children.

A decorated military man, Moyo was promoted to the rank of Major-General in 2015 by Mugabe in what observers said was a reward for spearheading a "terror campaign" in the Midlands province where he commanded a military team ahead of the June 27, 2008 election run-off.

This followed the dispatching of senior army officials to command terror campaigns after Mugabe's loss to Tsvangirai before a runoff was called for.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff citing violence that had seen several of his supporters killed, others injured and displaced.

Moyo was mentioned in a United Nations report on the plundering of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the 1990s war.

The report claimed Moyo was director-general of Cosleg, a company involved in exploiting diamond mining, logging and banking in the DRC.

Cosleg was then described as a combination of Comiex Congo and Osleg - the commercial arm of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces whose full name is operation Sovereign legitimacy.

Moyo becomes the third minister to succumb to CoVID-19 after his lands and Agriculture counterpart Perrance Shiri, also a former key military man died in July last year, and ellen Gwaradzimba, the Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister who died last week.

His death has left many mourning as Moyo was generally regarded as a likeable character.

Said MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa: "We note with sadness the passing on of Dr SB Moyo and Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba. we extend our condolences to both the Moyo and Gwaradzimba families. our sympathies are also with Cdes Mukudzei Mudzi, Moton Malianga's families, both Cdes sacrificed everything to free our beloved country."

Moyo was born at Munene Mission Hospital in Mberengwa 60 years ago and joined the liberation war at the age of 17, when he was in Form 4.

He travelled to Botswana with his cousin Air Marshal Elson Moyo.

The late military man took the secret of his factional links to his grave, linked initially to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga while others felt he was close to Mnangagwa.

The truth on where his loyalty was will never be known.

Mnangagwa, in a statement, said: "It is with a heavy heart that I announce Foreign minister Dr SB Moyo has died. Zimbabwe has lost a devoted public servant and a true hero, and I have lost a friend. He fought his entire life so that Zimbabwe could be free. May he rest in peace?

"In 2017, I appointed him Minister of Foreign Affairs, later adding International Trade to the portfolio and his bundle of responsibilities. In the onerous role, our nation relied on him for a determined execution of our engagement and re-engagement policy through which we sought to embrace the rest of the world while repairing relations with those countries that had taken positions against us over our legitimate decision to recover our heritage, land.

"He persistently deployed patience and dignified diplomacy even against difficult and often hostile interlocutors."

In May last year, Moyo was embroiled in a war of words with then Information deputy minister energy Mutodi over a diplomatic gaffe by the latter who publicly criticised Tanzanian President John Magufuli's handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the east African country.

Mutodi accused Moyo of behaving like a superior minister or prime minister, hours after Moyo publicly censured him on national television over his comments criticising Tanzania's response to the deadly coronavirus.

The fight ended with Mutodi jobless.

Source - newsday