A LOT has been happening in Zanu-PF which has seen the party restructuring the Bulawayo provincial leadership while a high-powered delegation led by party national chairperson Cde Simon Khaya Moyo was sent to Manicaland to ascertain the
problems bedevilling the province following a petition by some party cadres to the President and First Secretary Cde Robert Mugabe apprising him of problems in the province. Our reporter Lloyd Gumbo (LG) caught up with Zanu-PF national spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo (RG) to talk about these and other issues.
LG: On Thursday the country celebrated the 33rd anniversary of Independence. Considering that as Zanu-PF you are the founding fathers of this independence do you feel the party is still on course to achieve the objectives of the struggle?
RG: Indeed I think the President summed the achievements of the party very well. We are on course though we have been detracted a bit by the illegal economic sanctions but generally, we are on course. We have done the land reform programme, we are doing indigenisation and empowerment. Even in the field of education we have excelled in a number of areas and in health delivery it was very good until machinations of imperialists destroyed our delivery system but otherwise we are on course.
LG: Is Zanu-PF united ahead of the harmonised elections?
RG: We have a few challenges here and there but as a revolutionary party we will survive. We have gone through these kinds of challenges but generally the party remains united. We have a number of concrete programmes to bring people together.
LG: There is a lot of restructuring in the party with a team going around the provinces listening to the views of people in the party structures. The team went to Bulawayo and only last week it was in Manicaland. From there they will be coming to Harare. What inspires this exercise?
RG: First of all there is the issue of restructuring of the party in general. This has been on since last year. We are focusing on the cell level, villages, branches and so on. This has been happening throughout last year and part of this year. But there is also restructuring of provinces which have challenges like Bulawayo. The Politburo had to set-up a committee headed by national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo including Cde Didymus Mutasa who is the secretary for administration, national commissar Cde Webster Shamu and secretary for security Cde Sydney Sekeramayi. These are people who have gone out to find out what is going on. Their task is to listen to what is happening and then make recommendations to the Politburo. They have done that for Bulawayo and the Politburo looked at the report, discussed it fully and decided that there was need to expand and consolidate Bulawayo province. We accordingly chose Dr Callistus Ndlovu to be the chairman, deputised by the former chairperson Cde Killian Sibanda. The chairman has been back to advise them and our understanding is that they are working very well. There is also the issue of Manicaland. The task force went to Manicaland to study the situation, to hear what people were saying. People told them what they wanted and what they are not happy with. They are going to produce a report that will be presented to the Politburo. The Politburo will then decide what course of action to take. As far as the structure of the province is concerned it remains where it is. I suppose Cde Dorothy Mabika being deputy chairperson of the province heading the province until the Politburo has decided.
LG: Back to the Bulawayo issue some people may also be wondering why a duly elected provincial chairman for Bulawayo province Cde Killian Sibanda was demoted and replaced with a hand picked person. What was the rationale behind this move?
RG: The rationale behind was because people in Bulawayo were concerned about the performance of the chairperson Cde Sibanda who was there. Some were even suggesting that we dissolve the entire province but to us as the Politburo that didn't make sense. So we said if the problem is the chairperson who is perhaps underperforming then we have to get someone who can do the job. The aim is not to undermine the province but to consolidate and strengthen it so that we can bring the people of Bulawayo together.
LG: On the Manicaland one, questions have been raised over the inclusion of Cde Didymus Mutasa in the probe team when he forms the basis of the petition that was sent to the President. Why was he included?
RG: But you are putting the cart before the horse. We did not know that there was a case of Cde Mutasa being labelled a troublemaker. What we know is that Manicaland had problems and some of the people in that province petitioned the President and he looked at their complaints and said the team set up by the Politburo was going to look into the matter. That is exactly what they did. What they found out, we don't know whether Cde Mutasa was at fault. We can't say until we have seen the report. It was only fair and right that because he is in the committee he should go there.
LG: From what you have heard from the team that went to Manicaland, without pre empting the findings do you think the challenges there are surmountable?
RG: The problems are solvable, there is nothing that is impossible in political terms. We believe when the Politburo meets it will decide exactly what is supposed to be done in Manicaland.
LG: From your analysis do you think the petitioners had genuine concerns?
RG: I don't know. I haven't seen the petition.
LG: From your understanding how broad were the consultations in Manicaland?
RG: I understand the consultations were fairly broad. They followed the same pattern they used in Bulawayo. Generally it would appear they did a good job and quite a number of people came to give their inputs about the problems in the province.
LG: Supporters have called for decisive action on Manicaland to find a lasting solution considering that the party didn't perform very well in the last elections. You got only six seats out of 26. Does the party have the capacity to deal with such problems?
RG: Of course we have the capacity to deal with some of these issues effectively. I personally see no difficulty in bringing the people of Manicaland together. The key thing is, can we connect with the people? Can we relate to the people? The bone of contention in Manicaland is not the party. There may be individuals. It is not just Cde Mutasa, there are a number of people who are being mentioned in that context. I think this is solvable and when the Politburo meets it will decide on a course of action. What we are doing as the Politburo is that once a decision is made it must be followed. When the report is tabled at the Politburo and once we make a recommendation we want everyone to follow it.
LG: People say the problems in Manicaland are bigger than Cde Didymus Mutasa and Cde Oppah Muchinguri. It is claimed that factionalism is behind the problems there. They also say it reflects the party situation in all the provinces where you may have people belonging to different factions trying to stamp their authority in the provinces. What do you say to those assertions?
RG: I think the controversy in Manicaland stems from the fact that there are people who have different agendas. Yes it may not be Mutasa or Muchinguri but it may be other forces which we cannot identify. That is what we want the report to do. To find out exactly what was said by the people of Manicaland because only the people from there can tells us. We can't guess what they want and we also can't base our arguments on hearsay or rumour. I don't think that will be acceptable. Let's wait for the report to see what the people of Manicaland tell us exactly what they want. The party will then make a decision on the recommendations that would have come from Manicaland.
LG: But how are you dealing with factionalism.
RG: I think you can only combat factionalism by educating your people, by orienting your people. It is a political issue which must be solved. First of all we must identify the source of this factionalism. Once we identify the source, then half the problem is solved. We have to apply certain strategies and methodologies of solving it. From a political point of view, contradictions in the party are going to be there whether you like it or not. You have to identify whether they are antagonistic if so then of course banish certain elements whom you think are creating problems but if they are non-antagonistic as is the case in our party, you solve those problems through talking, dialogue and ideological orientation. You don't just lump contradictions, antagonistic and non-antagonistic together and hope that you will find a solution. You won't find it.
LG: But isn't this factionalism that is talked about more to do with power struggles? Does it have anything to do with people's views? It's about people wanting to be in control.
RG: That is what we have to find out. We have to identify the source of factionalism. Is it ideological orientation or power struggle? If it is just ordinary ideological orientation then debate the issues, educate people and come out with clear position. But if it is just power struggle it doesn't help. To be involved in power struggles you tend to be irrational in all sorts of things. You don't look at both sides because you are blinkered. I think this is a debate that will unfold in the months to come. We want to correct the party's way of doing things. Things must be done in a way that as a party we have one common message that we send to our people from the headquarters to the cell. The methods of resolving problems must also come from the party that if we have factionalism these are the ways of dealing with it.
LG: But do you talk about this factionalism say in the Politburo or you just ignore and pretend it's not there?
RG: We can't say we just ignore it. It's not easy to ignore those things but it's the time and place of resolving those things. In the Politburo we have talked about it. People in the Politburo know exactly what is happening but that is something that we have to work on.
LG: But are there no people in the Politburo who are in these factions?
RG: Of course they could be part of them but so what? We have to be frank enough to talk about those things.
LG: There was disbandment of district coordinating committees which some quarters claimed stemmed from the factionalism. Are you going to have similar solutions to these problems where if you find there is factionalism you disband that structure?
RG: Yes we will. We did that with the DCCs because it was clear that some of these DCCs were being pushed by certain forces and we did not like that. They were a government in their own right. They were making decisions which impacted on other people and we decided to do away with them and we did that. The same thing is going to apply to the issue of these factionalists as it were. There will come a time when people will come and say enough is enough, let's stop this nonsense.