29 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Road to Unity Accord - Part II


This is the second and final part of the interview between Herald Reporter Lloyd Gumbo (LG) and Zanu-PF politburo member Cephas Msipa (CM) on the Unity Accord, factionalism and corruption in the party.

So you were not talking to Prime Minister Mugabe about the unity? (During your meetings with Dr Joshua Nkomo)

In fact as I am saying, I was sending summaries in writing to President Banana. After each meeting I would write to President Banana so that he would keep the Prime Minister informed. I don't know if Clifford Sileya kept some of these records. The last thing was when Nkomo was now Vice President, he invited me to his office and said "young man what you did is great."

"I didn't think this unity would work, but it was working well." He said I have called you to thank you for persuading me to accept unity, now I see there is peace in the country. We are now one nation; we can plan our future together. Then he said you have done so much what can we do for you? I said now that you are in Government you can help the people of Zimbabwe not just me but everybody.

That's the part I played, but really I still give lots of credit to Banana. Had he not invited me to do this, I wouldn't have done that. I am pleased that we ended up with the Unity Accord. It's an occasion we must celebrate because it brought peace to Zimbabwe, which one of the greatest achievements that Cde Nkomo and Cde Mugabe.

Which party did you belong to then?

I hoped you would not ask me that question. I was secretary-general of PF-Zapu and resigned. My reasons were that I was fed up with accusations and counter-accusations that were going on between the two parties. I told both Cde Mugabe and Cde Nkomo that I was resigning from the party, but not from politics. I was under tremendous pressure. At the time I was elected secretary-general of PF-Zapu. I said one of my priorities was to normalise relations between PF-Zapu and Zanu-PF and people said "what do you mean?"

I said PF-Zapu should accept that Zanu is the ruling party, but Zanu-PF should also accept that PF-Zapu has a role to play as a loyal opposition party. So if the two parties can accept their roles I could not see why we cannot live together happily. Of course some people in Zapu didn't like that, they said why did you make that statement? Who authorised you? I said, if you people want to fight Zanu-PF then you better look for another secretary-general, but Nkomo defended me.

Do you think the Unity Accord has achieved what is it was meant to?

I personally believe we have achieved what we meant to achieve and what people like Banana had in mind. We may have differences here and there but we are all Zimbabweans. I know of people who were not there before the Unity Accord may not appreciate what changes took place after that. For instance people in Matabeleland were thinking they are not part of Zimbabwe, but after the Unity Accord they realised they are Zimbabweans. Yes we may have some problems, but without the Unity Accord those problems would be worse.

Some people are calling for devolution to address the issue of marginalisation of Matabeleland. What is your take on this one?

Personally, I don't like these high sounding words like devolution and so on. They don't mean much to me. To me, what people, the ordinary people want is decentralisation. There are a number of things that are being done in Harare when they could have been done at district and provincial level. I have been advocating for this for a very long time because you get a person applying for a bottle store referred to Harare and I say what does Harare know about Zvishavane? It doesn't make sense.

Some people claim that PF-Zapu was swallowed by Zanu. What are your comments?

I think swallowed is not the right word. When you unite it's not a question of swallowing the other. You are merely coming together as partners. One may be a stronger partner and the other a weaker partner, but there is no swallowing the other and the whole thing was done in good faith. You see Zanu and Zapu had the same values and same vision. What separated them was who should lead the country. Is it Dr Nkomo or Cde Mugabe? I remember when in Geneva, the late Dr Edison Zvobgo said to Dr Nkomo, you know Dr Nkomo our problem is one. It's you and Mugabe. If we can solve that problem of leaders then we can work together very happily. I couldn't agree with him more. We want to see this country prosper, peace in this country. When we embarked on our political struggle we said to our people we were going to eradicate poverty, disease and ignorance. As far as I am concerned we are in a better position to achieve our objectives when we are united.

Do you think the Unity Accord between Zapu and Zanu resembles the current Government of National Unity?

The current GNU is more or less an imposition whereas the Government which resulted from the Unity Accord was home-grown. The Unity Accord is an agreement between Zimbabweans themselves. As you can see no one came into the negotiations. The whole world heard that we had come together. How we did it they didn't know. The GNU was forced on us. People with different values were told to come together and form a Government. They didn't have shared values. That is why we are having problems when Zanu-PF is saying let's go for indigenisation and empowerment, and other parties opposing it. We didn't experience that under the unity accord. There was no discord on policies because from the beginning we were together.

Some people like Dumiso Dabengwa claimed that Zapu has moved out of the Unity Accord. Is the Unity Accord still subsiding or is Zapu still represented in Zanu-PF?

CM: Well, as far as I am concerned the Unity Accord is still there. People respect that and what matters is the majority. When Cde Dabengwa moved out, did he take with him the majority of the people who are former Zapu or he just took a minority with him? In politics it is what the majority of the people say and for all I know the majority of the people are solidly behind the Unity Accord.

Have you listened to some of their concerns that forced those people out?

I haven't and I don't think it's important. All I can say is that people have freedom to do what they want. They are exercising their freedom. I am not going to judge them, but the people have the right to make the judgment. For all I know the people have already said they are in the Unity Accord. By the way, it will interest you to know that when I was talking to Dr Nkomo about the Unity Accord, I visited Dabengwa at Chikurubi where he was detained to have his opinion about unity between Zanu and Zapu. His reply was, I cannot give you a considered opinion because I am in detention. I don't know what the people are saying outside there. So he was non-committal. He said it's not a fair question to someone who was detained. I think as politicians we should not turn a blind eye to concerns of people who are opposed to the accord. I think we should even pay more attention to those who are opposed to us than those who are behind us. Not all concerns should be ignored. There is need to address them somehow.

How do you think the issue of Gukurahundi should be handled?

Gukurahundi was an unfortunate episode in our history. President Mugabe called it a moment of madness. Now it means it's an issue that needs to be handled with care and some sensitivity because we are talking of loss of human life. Those who are trying to use it for political gain are mischievous and irresponsible. We need the wisdom of King Solomon in order to really find a solution to the problem. Unfortunately, I have no answer as to how it can be handled. I once raised it in Cabinet.

There is talk of factionalism in Zanu-PF and Midlands which appear to be your home province features a lot in those claims. It is it really manifesting?

Factionalism is a cause for concern. It's caused by people who want higher positions than those they occupy and they use people to support them to get to where they want. I will be dishonest if I say there is no factionalism. As long as people are not satisfied with the positions they hold they believe that the way to get there is to have a number of people or some people who are solidly behind them whom they can use to get to their destination.

But as one of the senior people of Zanu-PF in the province, what steps have you taken to eradicate it?

I have talked about it in our province openly and called for unity in the province, whether they listen or not, they know my stance. I am very clear on that. Some people benefit from factionalism, so they will fuel it even if the leader of that faction is no longer keen on it. Those benefiting will continue to urge him that he is number one, he should be number one. In factionalism, the people below benefit perhaps even more because the leader of the faction must have enough money to give to those below him, otherwise why should they support him. It is an expensive exercise. I don't know how we can get rid of it.

Do you think the party has done enough to deal with the problem?

Yeah, the party is doing something, but I think really, it's so deep that it's going to be difficulty to eradicate factionalism particularly if people think that's the only sure way of getting the top positions which they are aspiring for. I think this will go on until after the Congress. Well there are two areas where you need factionalism; elections and congress. It's all to do with elections.

It's going to affect the party definitely in coming elections. We cannot speak with one voice as long as there is factionalism. In fact we should be united. We must not only talk about the Unity Accord as Zanu-PF without showing that unity in the party. That's why as Central Committee and Politburo we decided to abolish the district coordinating committees because they had become centres of factionalism.

Some people have linked factionalism to the succession issue in Zanu-PF.

Yes it's true. It's linked to succession. Until the question of succession is sorted out or buried, but the question is how do we bury the succession issue?

How do you rate Zanu-PF's chances in the next elections?

I am convinced Zanu-PF will win because we have the right policies. We are addressing the problems affecting the people. I don't see why people should vote for the other parties.

Other political parties claim Zanu-PF has presided over the impoverishment of the people. They claim that the condition of Zimbabwe is purely a result of corruption. How do you intend to address this?

President Mugabe has spoken against corruption and he has even invited people with information to come forward. I hope people will come forward. Yes I agree that corruption is bad for the party and be eradicated. We should really do everything to expose people who are corrupt and to bring them to book. We should not just talk against corruption. We should do something about it and the sooner; we do it, the better.

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