Zimbabwe’s first Speaker of the National Assembly Didymus Mutasa who held many Cabinet posts before he was fired from Zanu PF in 2015, at the height of the party’s infamous purges, has hit hard times as he is struggling to send his children to school and servicing huge debts including $70 000 owed to Zesa.
Mutasa, who turns 82 at the end of the month, is also battling to save his top-of-the-range cars from being auctioned over outstanding fees to a local lawyer.
Things are so bad for the veteran politician that he has revealed he is beginning to fear that his family could starve unless he gets help somewhere.
“I can’t pay them (Zesa) with nothing. It is true that they say I owe them about $70 000 and I will not be able to pay it because I don’t have that kind of money and will never be able to get it.
“I am lucky here that I depend on borehole water and if I was using Harare water, I would not be able to pay, I am poverty stricken,” Mutasa told the Daily News.
“What is troubling me the most though is how it accrued to that amount because that is what could accrue to the Rusape local authority for a whole year and one wonders how all that accrued for one person?”
“I am telling you the truth and it’s all because of the economic failure and very soon we might as well fail to pay for our food.
“I am not rich because unlike others, I did not even steal a pen when I left government and all that I was supposed to leave behind was properly accounted for.
“You are probably one of the first people that I have told my problems and one of the greatest ones is honesty,” he added.
Mutasa is now a pale shadow of a politician who wore designer suits and lived in the lap of luxury during his long career in government and Zanu PF.
His sprawling Umwinsdale home was consistent with his current troubles as the shrubbery and gardens were showing wilting stress due to lack of consistent maintenance.
During the interview, the former Zanu PF secretary for administration, paused in between answers as if his mind was somewhere in the distance.
Mutasa was sacked from both government and Zanu PF together with other party stalwarts — who included former vice president Joice Mujuru and ex-Cabinet minister and the then spokesperson Rugare Gumbo — over untested allegations of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.
The former State Security minister has a huge family including children who are still going to school.
He told the Daily News how he has to live with the pain of being a butt of bad jokes by his former colleagues in Zanu PF who mock him over his current state.
“I am an ex-combatant and according to the policy (War Veterans Act) my children are supposed to be sent to school up to whatever level by government and why is that not happening to Mutasa?
“That is all because of corruption so they are even laughing at me yet they are the ones who are corrupt.
“Instead of laughing at me they should be asking why my children are not going to school,” a despondent Mutasa told the Daily News.
Mutasa, however, said he was optimistic that his life and that of many ordinary suffering Zimbabweans, would improve once Mugabe leaves office.
He said Zimbabwe needed a leader of the calibre of Tanzanian President John Magufuli who would bring a radical transformation in the country.
“We pray sooner or later that they will change or some other authority will come into power and change the situation for the better.
“I am so fascinated by a certain Kenyan professor, Lumumba, who says there is need for the Magufulinisation of the African continent and I think he is right especially looking at Zimbabwe because there is too much corruption.
“We have to look at Magufuli’s ideas and realise that Zimbabwe will not grow economically in the face of corruption and now I am telling you about my electricity bills because there is no money,” said Mutasa.
Mutasa’ attempts to revive his political career have not been met with success as the party that he helped launch together with Mujuru, Gumbo and other members after their expulsion from Zanu PF — the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) — has been beset with problems.
In February, exactly a year after its launch, things unravelled at the ZPF when Mujuru fired Mutasa, Gumbo and five others on suspicion that they were spying for Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Immediately after Mujuru’s announcement, Mutasa and Gumbo convened their own press conference and announced they had fired Mujuru.
Mujuru is now leading the National People’s Party (NPP) which is battling to stem mass desertions by disgruntled members.