Clive Malunga

Opportunist on the Prowl

My first encounter with Professor Jonathan Moyo was at BB House, Corner Samora Machel Avenue and Leopold Takawira Street where the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe offices used to be. Professor Moyo had been appointed Minister Without Portfolio by President Robert Mugabe on the recommendation (I later heard) of Mr. Munyaradzi Hwengwere who used to work in the President’s office.

On that occasion musicians had been invited to a meeting at the BB House which was supposed to be chaired by Professor Jonathan Moyo. The professor did not keep his time for the meeting. I believe he was more than two hours late. Musicians patiently waited for him until he arrived. When he started, he did not bother to apologize for being late. I was quick to advise him to apologise for his lateness but he refused to do so by giving flimsy excuses.

There was no agenda for the meeting. When it was my turn to speak, I asked government to support Jenaguru Music Festival to become a national event by providing funding and other non-cash assistance. I told him how successful the festival had been, hoping that since he was working in the President’s Office, his influence could lead to government help for the festival. He ignored the request and never commented about it. At that time, I was Vice-Chairman of the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians as well as Jenaguru Arts Centre Projects Coordinator. Professor Moyo had not come to the meeting with a secretary and therefore, he wrote the minutes/ notes himself.

To impress the presidium, Professor Moyo, then introduced the musical galas, a copy and paste project, identical to the Jenaguru Music Festival. Since he had no idea how to organise a musical festival he coopted me in a line of many arts and sports personalities that included Vincent Pamire, Rhoda Mandaza, Dr Samkange, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Olly Maruma and Elias Musakwa.

My first assignment was to organise the first national music gala at the Harare International Conference Centre. At the musical festival President Robert Mugabe posthumously honoured Dr Joshua Nkomo by handing over a chief’s knobkerrie to Dr Nkomo’s widow, Mama Joana Mafuyana Nkomo. The festival was a resounding success. I had worked hand in glove with Elias Musakwa in organising that festival. That was the first and last project I organised for the Ministry of Information and Publicity.

Professor Jonathan Moyo went on to start a musical group called Pax Afro which was led by Isaac Chirwa. By that time the professor had become a darling of the ruling ZANU (PF) party and the government of President Robert Mugabe. At last, the government had found a genius who could organise national events such as galas.

The music gala concept was a brainchild of Jenaguru. The festival had become a household music extravaganza on the Zimbabwe calendar. The government which did not appreciate the importance of arts had failed to assist that important national event. Now that it was for their political expediency, it was now receiving enormous amounts resources.

Later, I was invited by the Ministry of Information and Publicity to perform at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments Gala in Masvingo. The big crowd in Masvingo gave me a standing ovation. When we started playing the song Nesango, the crowd just went wild and it was one of my best performances since I joined the music industry. The festival in Masvingo was held just within the confines of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. It was an all-night festival.

The next morning, I had the shock of my life when I saw hundreds of condoms scattered all over the performance area. Great Zimbabwe is a national symbol and a sacred place. Many foreigners fly from all over the world to come and visit that edifice, the pride of Zimbabwe’ and an undeniable reminder of our glorious past. I was not happy with what I saw. I even thought that it was not prudent to stage a concert at the site.

On a Tuesday I went to ZANU (PF) headquarters to report about the incident which I considered pathetic. I first presented my story to Comrade Fredrick Shava who was working as an administrator of the party at that time. Cde Shava referred me to Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa. I went and knocked at his door and was told to come in. When I told Cde Mnangagwa what I had seen at the Masvingo Gala, he asked me to see him the next day at his parliament office. At that time Cde Mnangagwa was the speaker of the House of Assembly.

As per instruction, the following morning I went to his office. Security details told me that they were aware that I was coming. They led me to Cde Mnangagwa ‘s office. I knocked at the door and I was told to come in. I walked into his office which was very lavish. I was not offered a seat: I was told to present my story to him whilst standing.

I repeated what I had initially told him at ZANU (PF) headquarters. I described to Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa how our sacred place had been desecrated during the national musical gala held there. I suggested that it would be better to take future music galas in Masvingo to alternative venues such as Mucheke Stadium rather than the Great Zimbabwe monuments. I also reminded Cde Mnangagwa how Professor Jonathan Moyo had been barred from staging a similar musical gala at Matopo Hills by all the chiefs of that area. I further advised Cde Mnangagwa that the party should watch out for Professor Moyo for I foresaw him causing a great deal of damage to the party. Professor Moyo at that time was annoying many ministers because he would comment on health issues, education issues, agricultural issues, mining issues, energy issues, everything: in short he had become a de facto president.

Unbeknown to me, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa and Professor Moyo were then the best of friends. I was later informed that the two were at that time working together on the Tsholotsho Declaration. When I finished my presentation, I was shown the way out. I did not get any comment from Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A few years later I reminded Cde Mnangagwa through a tweet what I had said about Professor Jonathan Moyo. We were now in the G40 versus Lacoste era. I had foreseen problems emanating from the professor and what I had told Emmerson Mnangagwa had come to fruition. Up to this day Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa and Professor Jonathan Moyo do not see eye to eye. Leaders must learn to listen to anyone whether rich or poor. Never judge a book by its cover.

We all wanted our land back from the Rhodesians who used to own almost all the fertile land of Zimbabwe. There was nothing more unfair than a very small white minority owning all the prime land of Zimbabwe. Cde Robert Mugabe did a good thing to repossess our land from white settlers who had violently wrestled it from our forefathers and who were calling us squatters in our motherland.

There was no need to compose songs that ridiculed the white race because the land was now back in our custody. However, Professor Jonathan Moyo went on to encourage musicians to sing about Hondo Yeminda and at a more unfair stage, he encouraged Tambaoga to sing vulgar about former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair. There was absolutely no need to say Mr. Blair was a Blair toilet. I personally felt we went too low as a country because it was unlike our ubuntu/hunhu to liken a person created in the image of God to a toilet. I was made to understand that those who participated in composing Hondo Yeminda songs were given hefty packages by the state. Some otherwise excellent musicians gullibly fell into Professor Moyo’s trap. Musicians like Andy Brown and Simon Chimbetu ended up losing their fan bases because of their association with Professor Jonathan Moyo’s Hondo Yeminda project.

Our country needs to build good relations with other countries. We cannot be an island unto ourselves. We therefore need to be mindful of the consequences of our actions towards those who have the capacity to help us.

Musicians must compose songs under no influence from politicians but from a purely artistic point of view. This is because politicians can use musicians for personal gain while the musicians, through their association with unpopular politicians, risk losing the support of their fans. The more musicians distance themselves from politicians the more independent they become in terms of creativity.

Professor Jonathan Moyo is an opportunist. Taking advantage of a weak and fragmented music industry, he ended up proclaiming that he was a musician in his own right. We are still to listen to Professor Moyo’s first single or album.

Musicians must stop selling their souls to politicians for a few dollars. Once musicians start losing their fan base, the politicians will dump the musicians. Musicians must work towards the development of our country for the good of all citizens.

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