Zeinab Badawi speaks to Jonathan Moyo, a former cabinet minister, key ally and close adviser to Robert Mugabe, in his first interview since the ousting of the former president.
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on Tuesday night.
Now on BBC News: HARDtalk.
Welcome to HARDtalk,
with me, Zeinab Badawi.
The removal of Robert Mugabe
as president of Zimbabwe in November
led to several Mugabe
loyalists going underground.
The most prominent of these is
probably Jonathan Moyo.
Until recently, a cabinet minister,
key ally and close adviser
to Robert Mugabe
and his wife, Grace.
He has been described as one
of the most hated men
in Zimbabwe, and is wanted in
the country on corruption charges.
Jonathan Moyo is now in hiding
in self-imposed exile,
and says his family
is being harassed, and that his
life is under threat.
We cannot disclose his location, at
his request. This is his first
interview since his ousting of
What has he got to say for himself?
Jonathan Moyo, welcome to HARDtalk.
Why have you gone into hiding, and
not wish to disclose your
It is because of the
extraordinary situation that exists
in Zimbabwe following the
unconstitutional overthrow of the
government in a military coup that
took place on 15 November. And on
that day the military specifically
targeted my house and myself with a
clear intention to cause harm, and
that is why I am not in the country,
although I left the country legally.
I am not at liberty to disclose my
whereabouts, because they have shown
a very clear and determined
intention to find me and harm me
wherever I am.
You have talked about
worries about your life, and threats
and harassment, and so on. What is
the evidence for that?
It is Common
Cause in Zimbabwe. I have even put
that evidence on my Twitter feed. On
the morning of 15 November, around
2:30am Zimbabwean time, between 15
to 25 heavily armed SAS soldiers
came to my residence, and they
destroyed the gate, destroyed the
entrance, the door to my house, and
shot their way into every room
looking for me. But fortunately they
did not find me, and none of the
members of my family were there,
because I had been forewarned the
previous night that the military
were going to raid my house, and I
was advised by a very close friend
that I should not spend the night at
my house, and that I should take
every member of my family with me
out of the house, and the evidence,
physical evidence, of what then
happened to my house, has been there
for anybody to see.
All right, so
where did you go then? Where did you
go? Reports are that you went with
your family to Robert Mugabe's
mansion, and that they were allowed
to stay, but you refuse? Is that
That is false. The
military people who wanted to harm
me on the night of the coup don't
actually know what happened, and
they have been peddling falsehoods
about these occurrences. What I
would say, without putting in
jeopardy many of God's people who
were very kind to give me
assistance, is that it is true that
I took my family with me on the
night of 14 November to my
colleague's residents, and my
colleague being the then Minister of
local government. And the amazing
fact is that his house was also
attacked about the same time when my
house was being attacked. When I was
there with my family, it was him and
his family, and altogether there
were 11 of us at his residence when
the residence was attacked.
right, so that's where you went. We
know that he and you are one of the
most wanted men from Zimbabwe, and
in fact the former Finance Minister
is in prison. How did you manage to
escape Zimbabwe? You say you left
legally, but on the other hand you
have just described how the army and
the authorities were coming after
Yes, when they came to attack
Saviour Kasukuwere's house at about
2:30am on 15 November, they
subjected it to some 15 minutes of
gunfire, and amazingly, after those
15 minutes, and they surrounded the
house, the sound of gunfire just
went silent. And we waited therefore
I think something like ten minutes,
and there was no movement or sign of
any presence of these Special Forces
that had surrounded the house, and
shot at it from every angle. And we
then managed to get out of the
house, and we were amazed that they
were no longer there. They probably
believed that they...
So how did you
leave the country? You have
explained how the army attacked both
your house and Saviour Kasukuwere's
house, but how did you actually
leave Zimbabwe? On the other
question I asked you is, why do you
now fear for your life since you
have left the country? Are you
receiving more death threats where
you are? And how did you leave the
I left Zimbabwean with the
help of people who to me are angels,
because they saved lives. And I am
not at liberty to say who helped me,
how they helped me, and how I left
Zimbabwe, except to say I left
Zimbabwe when President Mugabe was
the president of the country, and I
left with the assistance of these
people, legally. Legally. I left the
country legally. I managed to escape
the net of the military people, and
to be where I am, legally.
do you not think that, as I said,
you know, you have got the new
Zimbabwean government saying they
have got into bowl, they want
Interpol to help them locate you,
and a couple of others, the most
wanted, some say most hated man in
Zimbabwe, because you were of course
very, very close to Robert Mugabe.
It is going to be a matter of time,
isn't it, before you are returned to
Well, fortunately there
is something called International
Law. I want to make clear that, when
I left Zimbabwe, there was no
warrant of arrest against me. And
there was only a death warrant, and
we have incontrovertible evidence,
in black and white, documentation
that shows what the intention of the
joint in Harare was, with respect to
my security and that of my
colleagues -- junta. They have,
since the coup, started framing all
sorts of political charges in the
guise of terminal charges. They say
they were targeting the so-called
criminal people, criminals
surrounding President Mugabe. But we
now know that they were talking
about political criminals. They have
not come up with any crimes that
rise to the level of charges that
would warrant the interest or
attention of Interpol. These are
people in pursuit of a political
agenda. They believe that we
committed political crimes by
supporting President Mugabe and not
supporting them. So this is a very
strange and unique definition of
criminals, only applicable to
Zimbabwe. But I repeat, there is
international law. Yes, everything
There is also
Zimbabwean law, and the government
has said it wants the president, he
wants to track $2 billion of state
funds that have disappeared through
corruption and the reports suggest
that you are wanted for allegedly
stealing assets, under the systemic
corruption that we know existed
under the Mugabe years.
There is no
such evidence they put anywhere.
They are going after people who they
allege were holding beans, rice...
You are one of those. You are one of
the people they say was involved in
systemic corruption. Let me just
tell you what a political analyst
and former party member has said. He
talks about the new government's
delicate handling of the old man,
Robert Mugabe, but they will make an
example of grace Mugabe, and some
others around her, even though the
corruption goes much bigger. You
were one of Grace Mugabe's key
allies, part of the so-called G 40
faction which was trying to
manoeuvre her as successor to Robert
Mugabe, so you are really top of the
list when it comes to the people who
are wanted for this alleged
First of all, it is not
corrupt to support particular
politician to become any
officeholder, whether it is vice
president, resident. It can't be a
crime in a constitutional democracy.
It is false to allege that there was
an attempt to elevate Doctor Grace
Mugabe, the former first Lady. What
is really going on here is that
there is a group of people that sees
itself as the stockholders of
Zimbabwe. And this group is led by
Mnangagwa, who is now president, but
the control of this group is the
general who was the vice president
now. But he is vice president
because of a military coup. He has
not been voted into that offers. If
you grant power by force, you then
must find excuses to justify that
ground. And this is what they are
You are questioning
Mnangagwa, the new president. World
reaction has by and large welcomed
him. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary
of State, Zimbabwe has an
opportunity to put itself on a new
path. Boris Johnson, Mnangagwa...
And Angela Merkel, Germany will
support you as a partner in your
endeavours to start a new chapter in
the history of Zimbabwe. That is the
reality you are facing now. You can
criticise what has happened as much
as you like, but that is what the
world as saying. It has accepted
Yes, it is not the world which
chooses the leaders of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has a constitution, and
Mnangagwa and his partner know only
too well that they have come into
power via the Bullet, and not the
ballot. The Constitution of Zimbabwe
requires people to come into power
via the ballot.
There will be
elections in 2018, this year.
people of Zimbabwe will decide. If
the world wants to be at odds with
the popular will of the people of
Zimbabwe, that is up to them. We can
only be concerned about the Republic
of Zimbabwe, the views of the people
of Zimbabwe, the international
conspiracy that supports a
dictatorship, that has come to power
via the Bullet, is another story. It
will not be experienced by the
Zimbabweans for the first time.
Well, he has promised free and fair
elections in August this year.
can't hold free and fair elections.
There has never been a single case
of a government that has come to
power via the Bullet.
talked of conspiracy, but what is it
you want? Because in one of your
tweet since Mugabe lost power, is
said to the new leadership in
Zimbabwe, if you and your lot think
that this will last, then you ain't
seen nothing yet, come rain or
shine. Are you plotting?
No. Zimbabwe, in spite of this coup,
Zeinab, it has come off age. We have
a new constitution and this is
constitution the people have made
for themselves, and it has been
broken, and it has been broken via a
coup, and if people think Zimbabwe
will embrace the coup and change
leaders when they know the factors,
because right now the Cabinet of the
Republic Zimbabwe is by the most
feared people in this country. They
are feared because they are
associated with every atrocity that
has happened. The people of Zimbabwe
cannot be expected to embrace the
most feared individuals.
What do you
want, a return to the status quo, a
return of Robert Mugabe and Grace
Mugabe as his possible successor? Is
that what you would like to see?
Well, every thinking, right-thinking
Zimbabwean would like to see the
return of constitutionalism and
legitimacy in Zimbabwe. It is not
about any individual. It is about
the rule of law. The Constitution of
the country has been subverted. And
there has to be a return to can stew
Cheryl is. And we do not expect the
same people who overthrew the
Constitution to restore it. And
there is a lot that gets set about
Mugabe. I want to put on record that
I for one am very, very happy, proud
of the fact that I served with him
and under him.
And you backed Grace
Mugabe, who is by and large not
admired at all in the country. Are
you happy, do you want to see her
still having chances of getting into
Zeinab, the fact that people,
some people, who may in fact be a
minority, have issues with Doctor
Grace Mugabe does not mean it is a
crime to support her. No one can
sustain that view. It is only the
people who decide who will lead them
through an election. You do not
prevent an election through a
military coup, simply arguing that
you do not like President Mugabe. It
is unprofessional for an army to do
that. The Zimbabwean army has joined
the ranks of banana republics where
military individuals intervene
because they do not like individual,
they lay that individual. They have
reduced our country to a country of
good guys versus bad guys.
spoken to Grace Mugabe?
As far as I
am concerned... Grace Mugabe was not
only the First Lady, she was also
the secretary for women's affairs in
the ruling party, and that position,
Zeinab, is a very serious position.
And as a leader, a top leader in the
party, she was entitled, one, to
discharge the programme and, two,
have her views as to who should
occupy office. She was entitled to
that. And in doing so...
spoken to her? She has not been
seen. Have you spoken to her, or for
that matter Robert Mugabe?
haven't, because of circumstances
that have arisen. I look forward to
doing so, specially speaking with
President Mugabe, who is Zimbabwe's
pastor, and unfortunately we are not
Cubans because our politics have
been influenced by our colonial
relationship with the white settler
economy and with Britain.
you are proud of having served under
Robert Mugabe. You have talked about
his legacy. His legacy, for example,
three quarters of Zimbabwe's
population live on less than five
dollars a day. One quarter under the
age of five experience stunted
growth. The Trade Union Congress in
Zimbabwe says that there is 90%
unemployment. I could go on and on.
You are higher education minister.
The fees for a term at a university
in Zimbabwe is $1000 US per term. So
it has become really something that
only the privileged few can enjoy.
That is just an example of the
legacy that you talk about.
is not a legacy! That is what you
are calling the legacy. You are
identifying certain challenges that
the Republic Zimbabwe has and you
say that this is the legacy. No!
That is a very strange definition of
legacy. We accept, as we did even as
we were in government, that there
were challenges facing the country.
We know what the reasons for some of
those policy challenges are. But
unfortunately the President put
faith in the people who have now
turned against him and who used his
assignment of responsibility to in
fact plot his downfall.
What you are
part of a government, as I said,
which, this current government says
now, you're part of this systemic
corruption, we have heard press
reports of your lavish home in
My home is very modest in
the neighbourhood. There is nothing
extraordinary about it.
described as lavish.
I build that
house when I was not in government.
I worked very hard in order to get
that house built. I am very proud.
You people can create as many
stories as they want. But the truth
of the matter is you will not find a
single case where I took a cent to
build anything for myself almost
Are you talking to an
intermediary about your own future
and whether you can make some kind
of deal on unity from prosecution?
You cannot discuss those issues with
an illegal regime. And an illegal
regime is one that comes into power
against the Constitution in
violation of the Constitution. That
regime may be in effective control
of the territory, but it is an
illegal regime, it is an
illegitimate regime. They kept
saying they want to have elections
in six months. We know that when
Emmerson Mnangagwa went to Morgan 's
house, the opposition leader in
Zimbabwe, they pretended that they
were concerned about his health and
so forth but we know that they
wanted to negotiate with him to
postpone elections for at least
three years. They are afraid of
elections. They do not want to have
free and fair elections let alone
What will you
do, do you want immunity from
prosecution, do you want to go back
We would... Every
Zimbabwean who cares about the
country would like to see a return
to the constitutionalism. That is
the fundamental. We must have the
rule of law. The army deployed
itself in Zimbabwe when the
Constitution says only that
President can deploy it. When you
have people who have deployed
themselves, taken over all the
institutions of the state and
government, you don't discuss
immunity with them.
But if you were
to be offered it, would you go back,
if you were to be fitted, Woody go
When the offers you immunity,
you would be a full to enter into
what is called a frosty and Bagan?
There are press reports that you
asked the Kenyan authorities for a
bargain and this was refused. Where
would you go?
-- Faustian bargain.
These are falls reports. I want to
tell you what you know. You can't
have people become stateless just
because some individuals have
grabbed power in their home country.
That is not international law. We do
not live in the jungle any more. So
these questions will resolve
themselves in the fullness of time.
So how is Jonathan Moyo going to
live, forever a fugitive on the run?
Where are you going to live, will
you seek asylum?
I want to remind
you when I left Zimbabwe there was
no warrant of arrest against me. I
did not run away from any warrant of
arrest. I ran away, if you want to
use those terms, from a death
warrant, and a lawful attack on my
house by military people -- and an
arm lawful attack on my house by
military people. There is no one in
the world who would sit and say come
and attack me, come and kill me. You
do not implement justice by sending
armed soldiers to attack a civilian
resident. So, I am not bothered
about that question, because at some
point the rule of law and
constitutionalism will speak.
Zimbabweans are already demanding -
they want to know what happened to
President Mugabe. He was humiliated
by the very same people who were
saying they want to restore his
legacy, who were claiming to be
targeting others around him when, in
fact, they were targeting Mugabe and
they did so in a very humiliating
and totally unacceptable way.
Zimbabweans, forget about me,
Zimbabweans in the country are
asking fundamental questions about
what happened, why it happened and
they want to see restoration of the
rule of law, constitutionalism in
Zimbabwe, and they will get it.
Jonathan Moyo, thank you very much
indeed for coming on HARDtalk.
The removal of Robert Mugabe as pesident of Zimbabwe in November 2017 led to several Mugabe loyalists going underground. The most prominent of these is probably Jonathan Moyo - until recently a cabinet minister, key ally and close adviser to Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. He has been described as one of the most hated men in Zimbabwe and is wanted in the country on corruption charges.
Jonathan Moyo is in hiding in self-imposed exile, says his family is being harassed and that his life is under threat. Zeinab Badawi speaks to him in his first interview since the ousting of President Mugabe. What has he got to say for himself?