Magaisa’s changes anger many
HARARE – Like a knight in shining armour, Alex Magaisa joined Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office six months ago with a new broom that changed its outlook.
Magaisa has made changes that have angered many and when his driver, aide and relative, Edmore Munyoro, died in a car accident recently, there were howls — “inside job”.
However, Magaisa who doubles as the PM’s legal and political advisor says he has so much on his plate to consider conspiracy theories.
He laughed out loud when it was put to him that he was under pressure from factional leaders in the MDC to quit when the Daily News caught up with him at his offices in Harare last week.
“I have no knowledge of any contestations for power in the premier’s office and I will continue to perform my services for the PM and the democratic cause which both I and Eddy (his late driver) believed in,” said Magaisa who has also been constantly excoriated by the media enquiring on allegations of “wrongly advising Tsvangirai on pertinent political issues”.
Viewed by many in and outside the party as an “outsider”, Magaisa, a former St Francis of Assisi High School student started working directly for the party as a technical advisor to the parliamentary select committee for the new constitution commonly referred to as Copac in 2011.
“The struggle takes different forms and is waged on many fronts. I would not say I have been a foot soldier for the MDC but I have been on the front of the mind. I do not see myself as a politician but a political actor in the sense of giving advice to a key political actor upon invitation by the MDC through its leadership in November 2011.
“You cannot be in this job without a political mind though, so I participated in the making of the new constitution as a technical advisor to the Copac team.
“I made my contribution and there are clauses in the new constitution that I am able to read and say I had a hand, it is humbling,” said Magaisa adding that he has earned respect from politicians both in and outside the MDC.
“The party leadership has respect for me and my job. I respect everyone in the party and I believe I compliment their efforts so our relationship is based on mutual respect.
“In my job I do not get to interact with people from Zanu PF but I have worked well with the likes of Paul Mangwana and Jacob Mudenda whom I worked with during the constitution-making process. I believe they also have respect for me, just as I do for them,” he said.
In November last year Magaisa walked into the premier’s office after Tsvangirai had received a media battering over his love life.
The former Kent University lecturer said he did not leave his rewarding profession in the United Kingdom to lick the heels of the MDC leader who is out to end President Robert Mugabe’s three-decade hold on power.
Ironically, Magaisa who says his is a mission to call a spade a spade, replaced Ian Makone, a man many in and outside the MDC accuse of having been a praise singer for Tsvangirai and a bad one for that matter.
Regardless of public perception, Magaisa says he enjoys a cordial relationship with Makone who is chief secretary in the Prime Minister’s office.
Magaisa’s day-to-day responsibilities include running Tsvangirai’s political programmes both locally and internationally.
His briefing and debriefing sessions with Tsvangirai which are “based on mutual respect for each other” are a daily routine whenever time allows.
“I advise the PM on political and legal issues and all manner of advice. We however, agreed that I was not going to be singing beautiful songs to him but that when appropriate I would have to give unpalatable but honest views on issues at hand,” said Magaisa.
Contrary to Tsvangirai’s adversaries’ belief that he is dull, Magaisa, who has a doctorate in law, says in the last six months he has worked with the MDC leader, he was struck by his political acumen, photographic memory and openness.
“I have been struck by his willingness to listen, openness, assertiveness and incredible memory but more importantly he is a very simple character able to engage with anyone from heads of State to the ordinary vendor on the street,”
Magaisa however admits that working for such a high office has its challenges.
“When you get to any job there are bound to be challenges because there will be a system that has been in place which you will have to deal with and find ways of ensuring the team can transform and deliver the goals.” – Staff Writer