‘Tsvangirai was about the people, not Chamisa’




The late MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and one of his Deputies Nelson Chamisa

IN the recent past, several former senior members of the MDC have been defecting to Zanu PF. The ruling party is ecstatic and believes more MDC officials will join its ranks as it plots a total annihilation of the opposition in the 2023 harmonised polls. The Daily News on Sunday Chief Writer Mugove Tafirenyika hooked up with outgoing Zanu PF political commissar and also deputy Defence minister Victor Matemadanda to discuss this and other issues.

Below are the excerpts.

Q: The commissariat is in membership mobilisation overdrive ahead of the 2023 harmonised polls. Are you satisfied with the progress?

 A: Party mobilisation is not about an individual, it’s about the whole party as an organisation, its policies, its thrust, what it stands for and ultimately its election manifesto because when people vote, they vote for what you intend to do for them and that can only be shown through a manifesto. As a commissariat department, we have the energy and proper management of all processes that have to do with mobilisation, we strive to do that and from what we see, people are convinced that we are  doing a good job, but not the best because if we did the best then we would not have an opposition to talk about. My belief and understanding is that everything people may want is in Zanu PF, but of course… individuals might fail to convince the people that our agenda as a party is to serve the people of Zimbabwe. When we were focused on liberating this country, every Zimbabwean was behind the liberation struggle supporting it. So, it means that when you articulate issues that have to do with people, the people obviously will support you, so this is what I think Zanu PF as an organisation is fulfilling. We have seen, for example, taking from our manifesto and everything that we promised the people, including our vision 2030, I think our people are convinced that this is the only vehicle that can take them to a better life and that is what people want obviously. Even when people decide to vote for an opposition party, it’s just an expression that people are disgruntled, they might be missing something or something that they expect has not been fulfilled, so because of that they may choose to vote for an opposition party. When they think that all their interests are being catered for, there will be no reason for them to opt for an opposition party, especially when you have a wilting opposition party.

Q: The MDC Alliance accuses Zanu PF of seeking to exterminate it using unorthodox political means. What have you to say?

 A: We have seen senior members from the opposition coming to Zanu PF and we expect more big names to come. Of course there is this big cry from (MDC Alliance leader) Nelson Chamisa saying that Zanu PF wants to decimate the opposition. He forgets that even when he went to MDC, he was coming from Zanu PF. When people remember their home, they always come back. Many people from Zanu PF went to join the MDC when they thought it was relevant, I think, but when they realised that there was nothing in the MDC they trooped back home and so I don’t think there is anything new, people have perceptions, expectations and foresight, they see what happens. For example, from the liberation struggle some people did not want to join the war, but when the time came those people saw the obvious. All the borders were busy and I remember the Rhodesian soldiers were now planting mines along the border. This is why we have this demining exercise. It is because mines were planted to try and prevent young boys and girls, men and women, from joining the liberation struggle because the call was loud and clear. People had realised that it was the only thing to do and the same applies to the opposition, when the opposition becomes defunct, people have no reason to be in it; and especially when they think that the programmes embarked on by Zanu PF are catering for their interests. What interests me most is that all these people that are coming, from my interaction with them, individually, they express a feeling that they are not interested in positions; they want to make a meaningful contribution to the development of this country, which is the noblest thing any Zimbabwean should do. Having spoken to the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, he was more interested about the people of Zimbabwe more than the power he could get himself as a person, which is what we want in leaders.

Q: Given that those joining you are people who have lost elections in the MDC, why do you trust they are not power hungry and will not leave you if they don’t get what they want?

A: We have people like (Lillian) Timveous. Who doesn’t know in the MDC quarters that she is the one who was funding MDC activities in Midlands, especially in Zvishavane? We can talk of (Blessing) Chebundo, who does not know that MDC was formed in 1999. So, those contributions are both historical and institutional in that you are never going to talk about MDC’s formation without mentioning Chebundo. Obviously, even when people say they don’t want positions at times we force them to have positions. For example, us as the commissariat, when we see someone whom we think can contribute to our department and if we seek for authority and we are authorised and the position matches with that person, we can give them an assignment.

 Q: I bumped into a circular which you wrote calling out DCCs for not staying in their lane. What is the problem there?

A: I don’t comment on what you bumped into because I don’t talk about bumps, I talk about Zanu PF. Lines of communication within Zanu PF, the particular issue you are talking about, you are free to join Zanu PF. I am not at liberty to talk about Zanu PF communications with the media. There is no misunderstanding on DCCs. When DCCs were elected and put into office, they had to be inducted, but Covid-19 conditions did not allow us to meet and it took too long before these people had an induction and because they were in office, they were asked to begin working, but without the proper orientation on what they must do.

Q: Zanu PF violated its own constitution by not holding its annual conference last year. How do you intend to correct that?

 A: This (Zanu PF) constitution is not cast in a stone. We cannot sacrifice our people because we have a constitution. It is us who wrote this constitution and it is us who operate with it and also amend it, but in the event that the world over has locked down, we have to abide because we have laws that govern the world over, for example, we subscribe to WHO and if WHO says we cannot have this, we have to abide, which is what we did, not that we violated our constitution. It’s not out of our will that we did not hold the people’s conference, but it was in conformity with what had been directed by WHO and I think we took the best decision and we continue to urge our people to continue following measures by WHO in terms of how we gather, social distance, because we want to save lives.

 Q: The party is due for its elective congress in 2022. Is it going ahead? If so, why do we hear pronouncements that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the Zanu PF candidate in 2023? What if he is challenged at congress and loses?

 A: I have foretold some things, but I’m not a prophet to say whether Covid-19 will still be with us or not, but if there are no causes for not holding congress, there is no reason why we should not hold our congress because it is constitutional. The problem with people is that they want to run Zanu PF from outside yet we are a party that has got history from its formation, the line of succession to us was very clear. If we all agree to what brought us this far, then we will not have the problems we are talking about, but should there come some overzealous someone from somewhere; democratically they will be allowed to do whatever they can, but I can assure you if it is the Zanu PF that brought us this far, it will not be easy because some people were saying and continue to say that there is no clear succession in Zanu PF.

Q: The unwritten agreement in the Unity Accord that one of the Zanu PF deputies will come from the Zapu side. Does that principle still stand?

A: It’s wrong to think that Zapu existed in Matabeleland; it was a national party and also the same with Zanu PF, but that is not my responsibility, so I will not comment further.

Q: Is there an existing wing called the war veterans league in Zanu PF?

A: I was the secretary general and still the secretary general of the war veterans association from inception. I was the secretary for the veterans of the liberation struggle in the politburo. I have since been transferred from that to the commissariat where I am and Cde (Douglas) Mahiya were appointed secretary for the league for the war veterans department. When the president pronounces, that becomes policy, so the president said that and the conference concurred and who am I not to accept that. What remains is the operationalisation of the league. That it is not operational does not mean it does not exist. We are very ready to go for a congress, we have done all the preliminary arrangements and applied to the relevant ministries to see if we can be allowed to hold the congress, we have secured a venue, those who want are free to campaign and anytime that we are given the green light by the ministry of Health to hold the congress, we are ready. The dates, we are going to decide when we have been given the green light to go ahead. We, as an executive, want to seek a fresh mandate and my candidate for the position of chairman is Christopher Mutsvangwa. Of course there are people who want to say there is bad blood between us; that Mutsvangwa de-campaigns me but my response is that if he does not want to work with me; I want to work with him. I am going to campaign for him. I know I am also his candidate for a certain position. For the position of deputy chairperson, my candidate is Headman Moyo.

This article was first published here by the Daily News