THE BETRAYAL, PLASTIC SMILES, ZANU PF BIGWIGS OPEN UP
During the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the National Sports Stadium, our reporter Obey Manayiti (ND) spoke to four top Zanu PF officials who served as Cabinet ministers in former President Robert Mugabe’s administration, to hear their views on the sudden turn of events in the country’s political landscape.
The officials, most of them previously known as Mugabe’s avid supporters, could not hide their dislike of the man they revered as “super human” for the past 37 years only to turn their backs and “betray” him last week as they picked on Mnangagwa as their new “political driver”.
Below are excerpts of an interview with Zanu PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke (LM), credited for leading Mugabe’s aborted impeachment process, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo and former Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe.
ND: What’s your overall impression of Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech?
LM: This marks the beginning of a new Zimbabwe and we expect a lot of jobs and development. We expect the President to deal with corruption and to make sure that we rejoin other nations in terms of mending relations with them.
I also expect him to deal with the situation where our Cabinet ministers were not doing their work properly and I hope he will form a proper government that is ready to serve the country and not their families.
ND: You have been there as the ruling party’s chief whip. Why were you silent on those important issues that you are raising now?
LM: Everything depends with the driver and you can’t do anything or change policies if the overall person is not serious about what he is doing. The situation was that the Head of State was already on leave.
ND: So you think it was time for Mugabe to step down?
LM: It was really overdue. He was betrayed by age and his wife Grace, so there is no government system that can be run by a First Lady.
ND: When do you last remember him being an active President?
LM: Almost 10 years ago. People were just respecting him, but it ended up destroying the whole nation. He did his best during his active time when he still had all his energy.
ND: The (new) President was talking about inclusivity. Do you think it’s also time to form an inclusive government with other parties?
LM: As a President and Head of State, he knows what is good and what is bad. Those are issues that he can bring to the fore so that we develop as the nation. Whether we do it through an inclusive government or without, we still feel we will develop the nation. I can assure you Mnangagwa is a business-minded person.
ND: Your name has been thrown in so many political discussions where you have been accused of being a rebel. What can you say about this?
LM: I am a straightforward man who says the truth at the right time, so it was not being a rebel, but I was just telling the President (Mugabe) that it was time for him to leave office and allow other able people to take over.
Before the turn of events last week, Sekeramayi was still touted as a dark horse and potential successor to Mugabe. He, however, says contrary to those claims, he has no ambition to ascend to the presidency.
ND: What is your overall assessment of the inauguration process and the President’s speech?
SS: This is a process which has gone on so smoothly almost on automatic mode and in the best interests of our country and what the incoming President has said about unity, about peace and development, all that in my view is what Zimbabwe needs as we move forward. To create jobs, create social economic facilities, this is what we need in Zimbabwe.
ND: Given the state of affairs in Zimbabwe, do you think this is achievable?
SS: I think so, once people have put their minds to making sure there is life in our economy, then we are able to scientifically analyse the weak points which must be addressed.
I often say if someone is ill, you need a proper diagnosis to give that person proper treatment and that is what is required now in Zimbabwe. This is what we need in Zimbabwe, we need a proper diagnosis and correct that.
ND: The President talked of inclusivity. Do you foresee him including opposition parties as well?
SS: I don’t want to speculate on that one. I think the President is the one best placed to advise the nation at large on that issue.
ND: For years, your party has been so silent on the economic crisis. Why were you quiet because it seems everyone now is acknowledging that things were going bad. Why were you silent?
SS: Everything has got its time my brother.
ND: Your name has been thrown around in so many political discussions as a potential successor to Mugabe and many other issues. What’s your position?
SS: I am a member of Zanu PF from its formation up to now. It is the people who choose leaders. This, that has been going on, I have never been part of it and nobody asked me at all, people have just been speculating and it had nothing to do with me. I am sure you remember that nobody has ever said he had a meeting with Sekeramayi to discuss these things. I haven’t been in this race.
Eunice Sandi Moyo (ESM)
Eunice Sandi Moyo, former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s deputy, describes Grace as a daydreamer who in her wild dreams imagined herself succeeding her husband as the country’s President.
ND: What is your impression on the President’s speech?
ESM: I don’t know what year I last heard such a good presentation, a unifying presentation, and economic presentation and a stability talk on our country.
I want to tell you that from now on, things are going to show a different sign of operation because our country needs people like these (Mnangagwa).
For a very long time, we haven’t heard anything about the economy. Presently, people don’t have money and they can’t even source 50c and we believe that with the new era and the promises the President has given us, I am definitely sure that we are going to move forward.
The people of Bulawayo are very grateful and they are here in very big numbers.
ND: Given what your party has gone through, all the contestations rooted on factionalism, do you think bygones could be bygones?
ESM: With such a leader, there is no way people can’t unite because he, alone, said it very clearly that let bygones be bygones and we believe in him.
We want the new President to rule over us and to help us grow and build Zanu PF as a party. We are hoping that never shall it be like what it has been.
We believe he is going to make a big change both in the party and government.
ND: You have been victimised and removed from your position. What was the source of these problems?
ESM: I wish I knew. Up to today, I have no idea and haven’t come to understand why I was being victimised. I kept quiet about it and I will continue to keep quiet about it because I have this thing called respect for elders.
Unfortunately, some people took advantage and captured the State and the party. For me, that was the women’s league capture, where no one had a voice. It didn’t matter what executive post you held.
ND: You mean you were captured?
ESM: Yes, we were never allowed to say anything and never allowed to direct and assist. The moment you try to advise, you will be undermining only one voice, which was the President’s.
ND: We heard that Grace had an ambition. What do you think about her wanting to lead the country?
ESM: Actually that shocked me. I was actually shocked by the interface rallies and at one point, I asked a friend of mine that why is it only one family speaks at these rallies. Where are the Vice-Presidents and everybody who matters? It wasn’t good, really, it wasn’t, but because we were captured, we could not voice.
Josiah Hungwe (JH)
Hungwe is a well-known Mnangagwa ally. At the height of factionalism in Zanu PF, he firmly stood behind his idol, something that nearly cost him heavily in the run-up to last week’s events.
ND: What’s your overall impression of this transfer of power from Mugabe to Mnangagwa?
JH: We are very grateful, delighted and we are very happy with what people did, not what I did, but what the people did. I want to congratulate them for this collective effort.
ND: The President outlined a number of targets in his speech, especially on the economy. Do you think he is going to achieve it?
JH: The new leader is very much aware of the economic situation in the country and he will be assisted by the ZimAsset and Command Agriculture.
He is clear about what people expect, so we have no problem and we would like to support him. He said he had plans and the most important thing is to engage the world, governments and people so that we can do business here in Zimbabwe and have foreign direct investment. We hope something positive will materialise.
ND: In the past, the international community shunned us because of the nature of our policies . . .
JH: . . . no, no, the President said he is going to consider that. The new policies are coming and there is no problem on that.
ND: He also talked about inclusivity in our politics . . .
JH: . . . yes we are open, Zanu PF is open that let’s do it together, but others might wish to try their luck now, but inclusiveness is the way to go.
ND: Does that mean we will likely see a government of national unity?
JH: If they are ready, yes. They need to be ready.