SB Moyo: Mugabe coup anchor turned face of diplomacy
BY MOSES MATENGA
“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.
— Sweden in Zimbabwe 🇸🇪 (@SwedeninZW) January 20, 2021
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.
Ambassador Laurent Chevallier and the staff of the French Embassy in Zimbabwe are deeply saddened by the passing away of the Hon Foreign Minister, SB Moyo, today and express their deepest condolences to his family and friends.
— France in Zimbabwe (@FranceZimbabwe) January 20, 2021
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.
The Embassy of Italy in Zimbabwe and staff are deeply saddened by the loss of Minister of @MoFA_ZW, Mr SB Moyo. Ambassador Carlo Perrotta and the Embassy staff send their condolences, heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of @MinisterSBMoyo. pic.twitter.com/OWKrF7IzGl
— Italy in Zimbabwe (@ItalyinZimbabwe) January 20, 2021
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.
1/3 Very sad news indeed about the passing away of @MinisterSBMoyo Hon SB Moyo. Zimbabwe has lost a professional Foreign Minister and @euinzim a great interlocutor. My sincere condolences go to family, friends and colleagues. @MoFA_ZW https://t.co/NuHk7AJpDG
— Timo Olkkonen_EU (@TimoOlkkonen) January 20, 2021
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.
I was saddened to hear of the death of Foreign Minister SB Moyo today. My condolences go to his family.
The UK stands by Zimbabwe in its fight against Covid-19.
— Melanie Robinson (@HMAMelanieR) January 20, 2021
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?
Ambassador @bvanhellemond and the Embassy staff send condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Minister SB Moyo.
— Dutch Embassy Harare 🇳🇱 (@NLinZimbabwe) January 20, 2021
“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.
Moyo’s infamous coup speech
Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.
Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President, of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R G Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.
We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.
To the civil servants: As you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging taking place in Zanu PF to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against it.
To the Judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the State, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals.
To our Members of Parliament: Your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets.
To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe: We urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual.
Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice.
To political parties: We urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour.
To the youth: We call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation.
To all churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe: We call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace, unity and development.
To both our people and the world beyond our borders: We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict.
We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity in the country.
To members of the Defence Forces: All leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect.
To our respected traditional leaders: You are the custodians of our culture, customs, traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country.
To the other security services: We urge you to co-operate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country.
Therefore, any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
To the media: We urge you report fairly and responsibly
Major-General SB Moyo
Mnangagwa mourns ‘friend’ SB Moyo
The death early this morning of our Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Rtd Lieutenant General, Dr S.B. Moyo, after COVID-19-related complications, has come to all of us as a great shock.
Born in 1960 at Munene Hospital in Mberengwa, the late Dr Moyo interrupted his high school studies to join the liberation struggle and distinguished himself as a courageous freedom fighter who helped liberate our country from colonialism.
At independence, he would attest into the Zimbabwe National Army which he served with gallantry and characteristic loyalty.
Indeed, he would rapidly rise through the ranks until he became part of the top command of our security establishment.
In 2017, I appointed him our Minister of Foreign Affairs, later adding International Trade to the portfolio and his bundle of responsibilities.
In that 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 which had taken positions against us over our legitimate and principled decision to recover our heritage, principally land.
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. pic.twitter.com/sdXHXyFjWF
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) January 20, 2021
He persistently deployed patient and dignified diplomacy, even against difficult and often hostile interlocutors.
Through that patience and perseverance, Zimbabwe has expanded friendships and registered significant diplomatic gains and victories across the globe.
A distinguished scholar, Dr Moyo delicately balanced his time between his responsibilities and chores as a soldier and his pursuit of higher studies.
Such was his discipline and unrelenting quest for self-improvement which inspired all.
On behalf of the ruling party, Zanu PF, government, my family, on my own behalf and that of our entire nation, I wish to express my sincere and deep heartfelt condolences to the Moyo family.
We note with sadness the passing on of Dr S.B.Moyo & Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba.We extend our condolences to both the Moyo and Gwarazimba families.Our sympathies are also with Cdes Mukudzei Midzi & Morton Malianga’s families,both cdes sacrificed everything to free our beloved country. pic.twitter.com/gvE3AcZVJk
— nelson chamisa🇿🇼 (@nelsonchamisa) January 20, 2021
My heart goes out especially to his wife, Justice Matanda-Moyo, and to the children on this their saddest loss.
In condoling with them, I urge them to derive solace and comfort from the distinguished role Dr Moyo played in the service of his people and nation, for which he shall be remembered and honoured across generations.
May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.”