Chamisa close associate eyes MDC-T VP post

Bekithemba Mpofu
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MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa’s close associate Bekithemba Mpofu is allegedly eyeing the vacant position of deputy party president and also declared interest for a Matabeleland South Senate seat, party insiders revealed.

By Nqobani Ndlovu

The MDC-T deputy presidency is vacant following the expulsion of Thokozani Khupe.

Mpofu, a senior academic at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, is a founding MDC member and was the inaugural youth assembly secretary general.

Mpofu said senior positions he has held over the years in various fields make him the right candidate to develop and “provide practical solutions” to Zimbabwe’s complex problems.

Below are excerpts of the interview between Southern Eye reporter Nqobani Ndlovu (NN) and Mpofu (BM).

NN: Who is Dr Mpofu?

BM: I consider myself as one of the true Matabeleland South sons of the soil. With origins in Mtshabezi, I was born at Mpilo Central Hospital in 1973 and l did most of my primary and secondary education in about five schools in the province (Matabeleland South): Fairbridge Primary, Bezha Primary, Beitbridge Primary, Beitbridge Mission Primary and Mzingwane High School. Like most kids those days, I spent most of my holidays in the village herding cattle, in the fields and/or playing football. My political interests started at the University of Zimbabwe, where l held various positions including being a member of the Student Representative Council. I then joined the MDC as a member of its interim leadership led by the late Learnmore Jongwe. At the inaugural congress, I was elected as the first secretary general of the youth assembly of the party under the leadership of our president, Nelson Chamisa. Wonderful years we had as we worked so well together, complementing each other.

Apart from political interests, I am a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) and a Certified Member of the British Institute of Facilities Management (CBIFM). I obtained a PhD in Financial Economics (Econometrics) from the University of St Andrews and an MSc in International Finance from Westminster University on a Chevening Scholarship as well as hold a professional real estate qualification from the Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe, a BSc (Hons) in Urban Studies, and a Master of Business Administration, both from University of Zimbabwe.

I started my career in the real estate sector in 1995 as a university intern, then took up another internship (as a junior project quantity surveyor) with FMI Costain, and later became property investment portfolio manager at a Financial Holdings company. I then joined a building society as a senior bank executive, with remit for mortgage valuations, housing development projects, administration and banking premises facilities management. Prior to taking up a Chevening scholarship, and then St Andrews scholarship to study for an MSc in International Finance and PhD, l was the principal and shareholder in a property consultancy firm. I have also worked as an associate dean in a university in the United Kingdom and a senior academic at a South African university.

NN: What has made you pack your bags from UK and seek political office?

BM: I, like many concerned Zimbabweans, have felt hopeless and helpless watching the Zanu PF government run down Zimbabwe to its current, unacceptable state. So last year I relocated so that I can offer my experience and knowledge to the struggle by availing myself as a candidate for public office. A few of my friends felt and still feel my decision is irrational because they think nothing can change given that some believe Zanu PF will not step aside even when they lose an election and they correctly cite the 2008 election. Personally, I believe in fate, and when the opportunity to relocate presented itself I knew this year is our election, it is the year the new generation ushers a new path for Zimbabwe. I firmly believe that in Nelson Chamisa we have a leader whose vision for Zimbabwe has been clear since our youth leadership days.

Now back to your question, why seek political office: I have worked in the private and education sectors since graduating from the University of Zimbabwe in 1998 and the experience I have gained from the different senior positions has improved my own ability to lead teams in developing solutions for complex issues. I believe Zimbabwean problems require practical solutions; thinking outside the box; a modern approach/outlook to these challenges, and this is what I know I can offer in public office. Moreso having worked as the secretary-general of the youth assembly, I know how these experiences can be applied to a political environment with appropriate care and consideration.

NN: Is it true that you are eyeing the vacant MDC-T deputy presidency post?

BM: Like any dedicated party member, I am committed to the idea of being deployed to any position our members believe can best serve the interest of the party. If that position is VP then I will be honoured.

NN: Why do you think you deserve the VP post?

BM: The word deserve is not only inappropriate, but irrelevant in this case or in the political environment. For a start, there are a number of deserving party leaders, second leaders are elected to lead in positions the party members believe best serve the party and personally, the notion that one deserves a particular post is incongruous with the politics I believe in unfortunately.

NN: What is the nature of your relationship with Chamisa and other MDC-T members in Matabeleland, for example Tabitha Khumalo, who is said to be eyeing the VP post?

BM: President Chamisa is my friend, we have worked together for an number of years (since 1999) within and outside party structures. We chat here and there about issues and how Zimbabwe can be transformed into a better society. One thing I like about him is that he is a good listener and takes constructive advice seriously.

I am not aware of anyone currently eyeing the VP position, but I work well with party members in Matabeleland. At the weekend, I was chatting to Mxolisi Ndlovu the acting chair of Matabeleland North about this weekend rally, and this morning I have been chatting to my provincial chair and provincial secretary separately. So I consider my relationship with party leaders very good as we need each other to turn the 2013 tables in this year’s elections.

This article was first published by NewsDay