HARARE – Former Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who became a career Cabinet minister under former president Robert Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule, has opened up for the first time on losing his job when his mentor was stripped of power through a soft military coup last November, the Daily News can exclusively report.
At one time tippled to succeed Mugabe, 94, before the pendulum swung in the penultimate stages of the despot’s rule, Sekeramayi crushed
out of government in November last year, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa named his inaugural Cabinet, made up of the deadwood in Zanu PF.
He had served in Cabinet since independence in 1980, becoming the only Zanu PF cadre to consistently serve under Mugabe for 37 years.
Sekeramayi, 74, opened up to the Daily News on Monday saying he was over the heartbreak of losing his post and was now content with just being a Zanu PF politburo member and senator for Mashonaland East.
He said he was not bitter at all over his current circumstances.
“Everything has got its time. I have been in politics and when politics comes to an end, I will find something else,” he said.
He, however, appeared to confirm the long-held belief that those thrown out of the Zanu PF gravy train have always found it difficult to survive without the luxury of the featherbeddings they used to enjoy while still in positions of influence.
The former Health minister said ever since he was cashiered out of government he has been getting by through allowances from his seat as senator for Mashonaland East.
“I am a member of Zanu PF; I am a senator for Mashonaland East province and that’s it,” he told the Daily News when asked how he was making ends meet outside Cabinet.
Although he could only laugh after being pressed if he wants his job back, Sekeramayi who served as Defence minister from 2001 to 2009 and State Security minister from 2009 to 2013 has been showing face at government meetings.
On Monday, he was among the VIPs at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Caledonia, attended by various Cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and civil society organisations.
At the event, he emerged as the unlikely candidate to be given the task of introducing then acting president Kembo Mohadi.
Ever the shy character, Sekeramayi played down the significance of his new found favour with Mnangagwa’s administration.
“We were celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities that’s why we were here. I am here in my capacity as the Senator for Mashonaland East,” he said.
He could not be drawn to comment on his future.
“I am a senator, let’s end there,” he insisted.
The fall of the media-shy Sekeramayi could perhaps be traced back to when his name was thrown into the Zanu PF succession ring by then Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo at a public meeting in Harare in June last year.
Moyo set the cat among the pigeons when he declared that Sekeramayi was a shoo-in to succeed Mugabe on account of his alleged seniority.
Former first lady Grace Mugabe also revealed at one of the youth interface rallies held last year that her husband confided his closely-guarded secrets to Sekeramayi, implying he was his preferred successor.
At no point did Sekeramayi refute Moyo and Grace’s dismissal of Mnangagwa and their approval of him as his silence appeared to be a confirmation.
Thereafter, he temporarily basked in glory before it emerged that it was Mugabe’s nagging wife who was the despot’s preferred successor.
While these incidents could have strained his relationship with Mnangagwa — for long touted as Mugabe’s heir apparent — it was events in Gwanda in August 2017 during one of Mugabe’s whirlwind youth interface rallies that must have spoilt it for him.
Sekeramayi’s name was bandied among those that could have poisoned Mnangagwa, although he strenuously denied it and even dragged an ally of Mnangagwa, Energy Mutodi, to court after he made the damning claims on his Facebook page.
He jointly sued the businessman, along with Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa, accusing Mutodi of posting falsehoods.
After Mugabe’s fall, Sekeramayi threw his weight behind Mnangagwa’s presidential bid, declaring he never wanted to take over the presidency and was happy Zanu PF had chosen Mnangagwa.
At a hastily arranged Zanu PF special Central Committee session whose main agenda was to recall Mugabe, reinstate Mnangagwa and elevate him as the interim party president, Sekeramayi ululated, jumped and punched the air as his former paymaster was recalled to pave way for Mnangagwa.
He, however, sang from a different hymn book in an interview with the Daily News on the sidelines of the special Central Committee meeting held to remove Mugabe last year.
“I was equally shocked by what was happening. I wasn’t a part of that,” Sekeramayi told the Daily News then as he danced away to Jah Prayzah’s Kutonga Kwaro.
Pressed if he was in agreement with Mnangagwa’s presidential candidature he said: “I’m a servant of the party and I follow what the party wants,” he said jovially before being whisked away by his security details.