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Zimbabwe is no country for nice men like Nkosana Moyo

There was Simba Makoni, widely respected in business, as Finance Minister, and Jonathan Moyo as Minister of Information.

Others included Francis Nhema, Patrick Chinamasa and Nkosana Moyo himself as Industry and Trade Minister.

It was a surprise to many, and the news of a new Cabinet of “reformers” was widely welcomed.

“Chen, Zvobgo, Kangai on the street”, the weekly Standard screamed the next morning, celebrating the dropping of old loyalists.

The Sunday Mail called it a “new-look cabinet”.

Mugabe, said the paper, had appointed “respected personalities in the field of finance and business who are expected to tackle the country’s economic woes”.

For Nkosana Moyo, all this must have been rather foreign.

Munhumutapa Building was a long way from his previous life at Batanai Capital Finance, the venture capital company that he had founded just three years earlier, which he had run out of a humble office on Lawson Road in Milton Park.

Probably detecting Moyo’s nerves, Mugabe, in the style of an old football coach putting his arm around the shoulders of a nervous rookie, told him to run the Ministry like a business.

“Go and show us how things can be done within your Ministry in a manner which is more aligned to how the private sector operates,” Moyo later quoted Mugabe as saying.

Despite the chaos all around the farms at the time, that new Cabinet raised a lot of hope.

Big business was happy seeing their own in power.

There was a nice guy in charge of Finance, and another nice guy in charge of Industry.

But soon, Moyo was to learn a lesson that, now that he is running for president, he will need to remember really fast; nice guys seldom win, especially not in Zimbabwean politics.

Not long into Moyo’s new job, groups of war veterans started invading factories, extorting managers and assaulting workers.

Just as they were taking back land from whites on the farms, the war vets said, they were taking over businesses from white capitalists.

Moyo publicly opposed the invasions, and the war veterans accused him of working with white capital.

In Mugabe’s “new thinking” Cabinet, Moyo found little support in his defence of industry.

 Frustrated, Moyo quit and left the country.

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