interviewBy Tichaona Zindoga
Herald reporter Tichaona Zindoga TZ talks to Zanu F cabinet Minister Cde Rugare Gumbo
With a few days to go before the conference, how prepared is the party?
Everything is on course. We have done the theme: "Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create
Employment". We are in the process of making party regalia such as shirts, T-shirts, bandanas . . . you name it. We are ready and we are putting the final touches on the convention centre. As far as far as accommodation is concerned, there are hotels, lodges and also schools to house all the guests that will be coming to the conference.
What is the significance of the conference to the party and the people of Zimbabwe?
The conference will be significant in the sense that it is being held before elections next year. So, we want to debate and discuss and come up with resolutions that will form the basis for the party's manifesto for next year's elections. Various clusters have been meeting, from the economic to indigenisation clusters and we want these ideas to make the manifesto, which will be our electoral message next year.
The theme for this year largely echoes the policy of indigenisation and economic empowerment but there is also the aspect of employment creation. How significant is this last aspect and how will the party create jobs?
What we are saying is that if you indigenise, take control of your resources and develop skills and competences, you create a viable business. If we fight against sanctions and pour money into production and making sound policies and ensure full exploitation and empower people in mining and agriculture you create employment.
But when you came with this theme recently the MDC-T accused you of stealing its idea on jobs?
How can we steal anything from MDC-T? They are an ideologically bankrupt party with nothing to offer to the people. They have been in this inclusive Government for the past four years but what have they done? (MDC-T Secretary General, Finance Minister) Tendai Biti said he would pour billions of dollars into the economy with the help of development partners but where is the money?
These countries (West) cannot afford to give us any money because they are in economic troubles of their own. We cannot steal ideas from the MDC-T because we have always had our own.
Issues such as alleged factionalism have been topical lately. How is this conference going to tackle factionalism?
People are making a mountain out of a molehill concerning the so-called factionalism. Yes, we have differences in the party but they are not an obstacle to the operation of the party. Factions for what?
The Presidency consists of President Mugabe, and Vice Presidents Amai Mujuru and John Nkomo. The Presidium incorporates the party chair, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, and the Politiburo is clear on the protocol. We have a charter that determines who is who in the party. So, if somebody comes claiming to have a faction, where would they be coming from? They will not be anything.
This is a minor thing, though, not as serious as is sometimes portrayed.
So we are not going to hear of factions after the conference?
Nothing at all! The President is going to read the riot act and put an end to this . . .
Another niggling issue has been that of the disbanded DCCs. What will conference do on the matter?
DCCs are dead and buried. They were doing harm and causing divisions in the party. They imposed themselves on the people and were engaged in vote buying and promoting factionalism.
These people are a forgotten lot. Right now there are signs that some people are seeking to revive and impose themselves but we are saying you don't impose yourself on lower structures.
No-one has a right to impose their will on the people. The DCCs were fond of imposing themselves on the people, whip up support for those they were aligned to, buy votes and do all sorts of schemes. This is out.
And what message is the party going to send concerning the so-called imposition of candidates?
People should never accept the imposition of candidates by an individual or groups. We fought for freedom to choose and freedom of association. We fought to achieve and enjoy peace and unity in the country.
People should enjoy those values.
But just who is eligible to run on the party ticket in the coming elections and who is not? There has been controversy on the party's decision not to impose candidates.
There are certain standards for people to qualify for the party's ticket in elections. We want people who are clear of the vision of the party, who understand the party's history ideologically and politically. We want people who have the knowledge of what is right and wrong. Among other criteria we also want people with certain academic qualifications who are able to debate and articulate issues.
And the number of years that a person should have served the party?
As a rule for someone to stand for the party in an election he should have served a minimum number of years, say five but that is not cast in stone. You will find someone who is extremely popular may have served the party for two years. We may have to waiver the requirements . . . the principles do not operate in a vacuum. There is machinery in place to assess the candidates, namely, the National Elections Directorate, which has to check on a particular person's background and popularity.
How is the party responsive to, or accommodative of, new blood - the so-called Young Turks?
The party is very clear on the matter. We waged a struggle but we cannot go on forever and we welcome new blood and ideas in the party. That is the spirit.
When we took part in the liberation struggle we were young and now we are old. The young people should be allowed to continue with the struggle. President Mugabe has been saying we need young executives and business people in the party. We need an integrated approach of incorporating the young and old.
We are the role models and we create synergies with the young.
Are you happy with the young people in the party and that they may be able to continue with your agenda?
Young people emerging from Zanu-PF are well prepared and they know the issues . . . they are well guided by the leadership unlike those from the MDCs who have nobody to learn from as leadership there is wishy-washy.
Lastly, elections are around the corner. How prepared are you for them?
We are well prepared. Zanu-PF is a well-oiled machine. We have strategies in place and all that is left is implementing them. We have rules and regulations for the primary elections. The mobilisation committee headed by Cde (Didymus) Mutasa has done its work and the rules and regulations will be approved by the Politburo. After that we have primary elections and campaigns.
This time we are going to have a different approach whereby we will only have one candidate per constituency. Anyone who seeks to run as independent risks expelling themselves from the party. These are crucial elections and there will be no games. There will not be any "bhora musango" and this time everyone must campaign for the President, Senate, MPs and councillors.
We are going to try and ensure that no one campaigns for themselves and not the President. If you win and your President loses, what value is it?