The song captures human behaviour as self-cannibalising with its intrinsic verse that says “one who plays with a sword will die by the sword.”
Indeed, Mapfumo’s visionary eye in the song can never be doubted.
The temptation to think of War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa’s waterloo each time the song is played is just too irresistible.
Mutsvangwa, “the macho” presented himself as one who almost single-handedly won Zimbabwe’s war of liberation.
The Norton MP played a pivotal role in the “unconstitutional” purges of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies on allegations of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe last year.
He fired the first shots, accusing Mujuru of falsifying her liberation war record and plotting against Mugabe.
The campaign against Mujuru was soon joined by First Lady Grace Mugabe, who borrowed some of the outlandish accusations against Mugabe’s then deputy to light fire under Zimbabwe’s first female vice-president’s feet.
After the mission was accomplished, Mutsvangwa was awarded with a ministerial post and the way was paved for him to lead the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.
For a few months he appeared to be on the ascendancy as an emerging power broker in the faction-riddled Zanu PF.
However, in a seemingly cruel twist of fortune, the tide has turned against Mutsvangwa, who is on the verge of being pushed out of Zanu PF for allegedly underming the first family.
Mashonaland West Province last week passed a vote of no confidence on him, taking a cue from Mugabe’s pointed attack against the minister at the just-ended Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls.
Mutsvangwa, an alleged loyalist of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, is walking on a tightrope.
The same axe that he engineered to fall on the “enemies of the party” has turned on him, appropriately justifying the visionary song by Mapfumo.
Ousted Mashonaland West Zanu PF provincial chairperson Temba Mliswa, who was the first victim of purges on Mujuru loyalists before the Zanu PF congress last year, says Mutsvangwa was the author of his own misfortunes.
“War veterans led by Mutsvangwa spear-headed my expulsion,” Mliswa said.
In August last year, Mutsvangwa rubbished the long-held belief that Mujuru downed a helicopter.
He said this was a mere myth created by former party political commissar Webster Shamu to deliberately shore-up her war credentials and elevate her above fellow comrades.
This opened floodgates to attacks on Mujuru; with Grace urging her husband to “baby-dump” the then VP.
Supporting Grace in the Mujuru onslaught was a group of excited youth leaders, among them former Mashonaland Central youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu, who have also since been made to taste their own medicine.
“Mutsvangwa is a victim of [his] own actions. What he used on others has come back to haunt him,” said political analyst Takura Zhangazha.
“Although the vote-of-no-confidence on him by the Mashonaland West provincial executive will not directly affect him until it is endorsed by the politburo and central committee, the same approach he took on Mujuru and her alleged supporters has been turned on his political career.”
Observers say Mutsvangwa had grown too big for his shoes.
The motor-mouth War Veterans minister had become synonymous with controversy. He knew no boundaries in his unrestrained attacks on fellow comrades.
In a no-holds-barred WhatsApp chat, Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba told Mutsvangwa off.
“Get back your youthfulness you super war veteran, the Rambo who won the war single-handedly. You have a horrible complex, an acute deficiency that overpasses your meagre personality,” Charamba charged.
“For far too long we have allowed you to hide behind the parapet of struggle as if you are the only fighter in town. We will pluck those feathery horns if you take matters too far.”
Mutsvangwa appears to have touched a raw nerve by calling for the removal of Saviour Kasukuwere from the commissariat position ahead of the Victoria Falls conference.
At one of her rallies in Rushinga in October, Grace warned “proud war veterans” that taking part in the liberation war was not a licence to misbehave.
Mliswa said, Mutsvangwa — who has rubbished his suspension claiming it was illegal — presented the party with a challenge to self-introspect on its past behaviour.
“When I was fired, I told them that I was dismissed unconstitutionally, and they [including Mutsvangwa] saw it fit that I go. But today, he is saying the same things I raised when I was dismissed,” Mliswa said.
Mliswa said according to the Zanu PF constitution, in firing an official the provincial executive committee should recommend to the provincial coordinating committee, which then should recommend to the national disciplinary committee, whose decision should be endorsed by the politburo and then by the central committee.
“The national disciplinary committee should give a prohibition order, inviting the suspended person to a hearing,” he said.
“The suspended person even has the right to legal representation.
“All this was not followed in all the purges and reinstating Mutsvangwa would mean reinstating everyone who was suspended and fired before him, including Mujuru.”
However, Mliswa said this would not happen as Mugabe was keen to violate the constitution each time he sees it fit to serve his own personal interests.
“That is why he [Mugabe] is now attacking the security personnel, because they are now posing a threat to his interests and family,” Mliswa said.
“In fact, victims of the purges should unite and pass a vote-of-no-confidence on Mugabe himself. He has failed to protect the laws of the party.”
Zhangazha concurred, saying the purges contravened the Zanu PF constitution.
“Due process was never followed in all the Zanu PF purges,” he said.
But whatever eventually happens to Mutsvangwa, Mapfumo’s words have been brought to life; one who plays with the sword will die by the sword.
His wife Monica is also on the verge of being kicked out of the party for allegedly disrespecting the First Lady.