Matemadanda: My main focus is to make urbanites understand Zanu-PF.
The ruling party Zanu-PF on Tuesday appointed Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda as secretary for the Commissariat.
He replaced Cde Engelbert Rugeje, who awaits redeployment. Prior, Cde Matemadanda was the secretary for War Veterans in the Politburo and is also the Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs. Our senior reporter Joseph Madzimure (JM) caught up with Cde Matemadanda (VM) to discuss his plans as the organising chief of the ruling party.
JM: Congratulations on your secondment to the position of Zanu-PF secretary for the Commissariat. How do you plan to execute your new role?
VM: To be a secretary for Commissariat is not an individual thing, but a collective effort, where everyone needs to be an actor. My predecessor Retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje did exceptionally well during his tenure in office.
Actually, he is giving me advice on some issues which can take the party forward. He still has a role to play despite waiting for redeployment in the party. I need to ensure all departments understand their roles and how they link with each other. We also believe in democratic centralism of the party, where everyone is involved in party activities.
I will ensure that every Zanu-PF programme is people-centred. All people should be involved from cell level to the Central Committee level. The job of the commissariat is to coordinate all activities and there is no department in the party that is not a Commissariat Department because, for example the Department of Labour, it is labour according to Zanu- PF perspectives, and by doing that, it will be a way of doing the commissariat work. The most important thing will be to make all departments understand that they are not independent entities, but inter-twined components that create a collective whole. No department is superior than the other, but they should make equal contributions for a complete set, which is Zanu-PF.
JM: In any organisation, there is bound to be some indiscipline. How do you intend to deal with this?
VM: The New Dispensation has opened a democratic space in the party, but our job is to make sure we are not abusing that space. When we came from the war, it was not really what was known as guided democracy, but we had what we referred to as outré-democracy, where someone would go beyond the limits of democracy, by so doing creating indiscipline in the party.
Our membership should be put on equal footing as well as understanding of principles of the party so that people behave according to expectations. We also used to believe in what we used to refer as democratic centralism, where every stage of the party was supposed to be involved in every aspect of decision making, for example, the district would send recommendations to the district coordinating committee or to province and Central Committee, which is the representative board of the party at the congress.
When we attained our Independence in 1980, we brought the village development committee and ward development committee and when we are sitting in a Zanu- PF set up as village development committee, we are not at a political rally, but we are at a Zanu-PF-initiated meeting.
Every Zanu-PF programme should be a people’s programme and it must be people-centred. If Zanu-PF’s programmes are a people’s programmes, then the people should be involved through their living structures. The party have re-introduced the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology to conscientise members on party ideology, the do’s and don’ts of the party. Members need to adhere to the dictates of the party. We are going to see Chitepo College becoming busier and busier with the impression that we are getting from people.
There is also the need to address the issues of corruption within and outside the party. We want to solve corruption. Everyone, be it in the Parliament or Government, we want things to be fair.
We must up the fight against corruption. Corruption should never be tolerated. If a leader is said to be corrupt, he/she should be given time to clean himself so that he will not be corrupt. There are means to find out if it is true or not that someone is corrupt. One should have a moral obligation that what I am doing is wrong and when they come to that realisation, they should be given time to clear themselves on issue of corruption so that they regain the people’s confidence. When we are defending a person, it must be systematic, it must not be like hypothesis, let it be proved factually that this person is not corrupt and that leader will be accepted.
JM: For several years now, the ruling party has been playing second fiddle in urban elections. What plans do you have to ensure that the ruling party reclaims urban seats in future elections?
VM: My main task is to engage with all racial and ethnic groupings, in fact all types of people. I will engage them. We are going to open up with caution because some people might think that it is time to infiltrate, but we want people to understand that Zanu-PF is a mass party and every person is welcome to join it and also participate in its programmes. I am not going to be an official commissar who will be driving around. I am going to be walking and engaging with vendors and kombi operators so that we discuss the problems they are facing and come up with solutions. I want to give everyone an opportunity to say what they want. My main focus is to have the people in all urban areas understand Zanu-PF so that they make an informed decision.
In Africa, Zimbabwean have the highest literacy rate, but most of our professionals were trained to be workers instead of entrepreneurs. That is why most of our educated professionals like doctors go on strike. They don’t want to think outside the box. These educated people want a revolutionary world, but in my opinion they need to be helped on how to get extra money.
How can we have a political leader who thinks that the solutions of solving problems in his country are in America and the opposition leaders need to understand that we have to be Zimbabweans and we have to understand our history?
JM: Can you shed light on why Zanu-PF primary elections are usually disputed, especially in major cities and how do you plan to tackle this challenge?
VM: The problem of primary elections, especially those for last year’s elections was that there was a lot of excitement because the New Dispensation under President Mnangagwa opened the democratic space where everyone wanted to be a councillor, Member of Parliament, Senator among others, so it was difficult to manage the situation. My predecessor did quite a lot of work since he was coming from an institution that thrives on discipline. When you are a commissar, you are not an independent institution, but a chair of the whole group and you need to ensure proper channels are followed. The primary elections rules and guidelines come from the party in line with its constitution, it’s not the duty of the Commissariat Department alone to ensure that they are followed
JM: How are you going to balance your new demanding role in the party and in Government where you are serving as the Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs?
VM: Being a commissar will not be a difficult task for me because once I have put systems in place, it will be smooth running. Government work is also routine.
It’s not like I am inventing a new wheel. A minister drives Government policy. With this information era, you cannot say I failed to take a decision. You need time to put systems in place in the Commissariat Department and most of the problems in the Central Business District, I will solve them through engaging with the vendors, kombi operators and other people.
JM: There are some reports of “G40 renegades” within the party who are believed to be taking instructions from their kingpins to destroy Zanu-PF from within. How are you going to handle the issue?
VM: As a party, we are not on a witch-hunting mission or expelling members from the party, but we should move in the same direction guided by the same constitution and party ideology.
We have one principal, President Mnangagwa, so if there are certain individuals who are taking instructions from some certain elements, then we can’t force them. We should be guided by the party’s constitution. Without mentioning names, I am not afraid of their masters or any of these people in terms of capacity and capability. I know for example Jonathan Moyo is just a perennial liar and Saviour Kasukuwere is an over-ambitious young man who is misguided. Zanu-PF usually monitors the activities of their former members whether they are repenting or not.
Those who still sympathise with G40 kingpins, we will give them time to repent. I personally do not have a problem with any one. I do not have a problem whether the person have been a member of Zanu-PF, another party, we accept everyone who wishes to join or re-join Zanu-PF. I am pleased that a lot of big names are saying they want to come back home, which is the Zanu- PF party.
JM: Are you at liberty to disclose some of the names of the so called bigwigs?
VM: Not now. We will definitely release the names at the right time. They want it to remain a secret until they are re-admitted into the party. Some are even from the opposition MDC party.
You know, most of those people in opposition political parties were once Zanu-PF card-carrying members.
JM: Can you shed more light on the restructuring exercise which is currently underway in all the country’s 10 provinces?
VM: The restructuring exercise is being done in line with the party’s constitution, which prescribes restructuring of provincial structures after every four years.
The party started with the two metropolitan provinces, which is Harare and Bulawayo; later on to all the other provinces. What happens in our party is that our constitution stipulates that every year, we restructure our cells and there will be elections.
After two years, there is branch restructuring and then after three years, we restructure our districts. In the fourth year, we will then restructure provinces and then the fifth year we have the Central Committee and then we go for a congress where we elect the party leadership.
My main goal is to ensure the party wins back some seats in Harare and Bulawayo. I want all urban centres to understand the value of the party and its intended goals, so that they make informed decisions come election time.
I know with the current situation; people might vote emotionally, especially in major cities, but Zanu-PF carries the umbilical cord of the country.
JM: How are you going to incorporate civil servants in party programmes, since some claim that they are apolitical?
VM: Our civil service is not as attached to our political decisions as we would want it to be. When a civil servant resists implementing a Government directive on the basis that he/she belongs to another political party, it will be seen as a harassment of workers, but it should be understood that every civil servant should be ready to implement Government programmes, which was formed by the ruling party. You can’t claim to be non-partisan when in actual fact you are working for the Government formed by the ruling party.
JM: There are some economic saboteurs who want people to revolt against the Government through price madness. How do you think the anomalies can be addressed?
VM: The issue of prices is double-edged sword because the people expect the Government to act through price controls, yet the Government is working tirelessly to address the anomalies.
We have a political party which thrives on the suffering of people and this is a challenge that we have, therefore, because Government is on an investment drive, we cannot be seen to be controlling prices, but our people are being hurt by the prices.
My proposal, which I am going to take to the authorities, is that we need to put systems in place, which will conscientise people that there is what is known as consumer power. We have one country and we should learn to respect our country and the institutions of Government.
We cannot behave like a lawless society where everyone can do whatever they want. The national anthem, Parliament, the President should be respected.
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