HARARE – Opposition Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni has claimed Zanu PF does not exist anymore as a political party and has completely lost support of the grassroots.
Makoni, for years a senior member of the ruling Zanu PF party who challenged President Robert Mugabe for the presidency in the March 2008 vote and came out third, told the Daily News that the ruling party was dead and buried.
“Zanu PF doesn’t exist anymore as a political party, there is what I call upper crust of leadership and they do not have any support of the grassroots,” Makoni said.
"The final nail on the coffin was hammered in December 2014. It’s sad because this is a party of history but it has refused to be the party of the future and party of the present.”
Makoni said his MKD, which has its genesis in his participation in the 2008 elections as an independent presidential candidate and only became a fully fledged political party on July 1, 2009, was prepared to work with other pro-democracy parties.
“We are ready to work with anyone who is committed to genuine change,” Makoni said.
“If tomorrow Robert Mugabe wakes up having changed like Paul in the Bible, we can work with him.”
Despite his years of service to Zanu PF, Makoni has been described by Mugabe himself as a “traitor” and “western puppet”.
Up until he announced his candidature for the 2008 elections, Makoni remained a member of Zanu PF’s policy-making body, the politburo. He garnered 8 percent of the March 2008 presidential vote.
With a PhD in chemistry, Makoni was brought in as Finance minister in 2000 to restore relations with donors and the business community but failed to change Mugabe’s policies.
He was sacked 18 months later after calling for a devaluation of the currency to try and boost exports.
Slamming Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s $4 billion national budget presented last Thursday, Makoni said although Chinamasa dropped a number of statements around revenue measures, there was no coherent presentation of where the $3,8 billion is going to come from, raising questions about how the Finance minister is going to finance that expenditure.
Variously described as a moderniser, a technocrat and a “young turk”, Makoni said Zimbabwe needed change, and that change must start in the leadership.
“It’s quite clear that Mugabe and Zanu PF are now clueless,” Makoni said.
"I saw it even when I was still there (in Zanu PF), we were trying to keep our positions and there was nothing we were doing. We need change in leadership but this change is not just for Mugabe, it must also be the change of the mindset.
Each one of us must accept that we are responsible for our welfare and development kwete kuti dai hurumende yandipawo (not say only if government gives us).
“We can have a new president tomorrow but if he or she continues with the mindset of donating to people, we will not come out of this crisis; we need to change our behaviour.
“The best empowerment that I can recommend you is to remove the impingements that stop you from doing what you want to do for yourself. No one knows your interests better than yourself.
“So this whole psychology which says tichakuvakirai zvipatara, zvikoro ne mabridge (we are going to build you hospitals, schools and bridges) is what we must stop.
“The former Sadc executive secretary said when leaders seek support to take up leadership positions, it must be not on the basis of promising donations.
“We must move away from the mindset of dependency,” he said.
“Many young people are refusing to go to work not because they are not getting jobs but they need to get money in an easy way. So the new government, when change takes place, needs a commitment on attitude change.
“In 2010, we launched a programme which we call Simba Conversation, where we were working with all leaders who are committed to genuine change and it is still operational. We discuss the future of our country and what we have to do.
“Change will not make itself, change is made by somebody. Mugabe made change from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe and we also want to make change from a poor, fearful, harassed Zimbabwe to a peaceful Zimbabwe.”
Makoni has struggled to clean himself of the image that his party is a covert Zanu PF operation.
When he walked out of Zanu PF on February 5, 2008 claiming 60 percent of top Zanu PF officials backed him, only former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa was the only heavyweight to publicly join his camp.
Dabengwa, who has now broken away from MKD to form his own Zapu, recently made sensational claims that Makoni was in fact used to split the opposition vote and give Mugabe victory in the 2008 vote. Dabengwa claimed Makoni was used as a “braai stick.”
And he is not the only one to make such claims. Retired major Kudzai Mbudzi, one of the top officials in MKD, who has since joined People First, told journalists in Harare recently: “I knew from the beginning that Makoni and I were never going to win, we were just used to remove Zanu PF from the mud.”
These claims were repeated by Dabengwa at a rally held in Gwamayaya communal lands in Nkayi last year.
“We used Makoni to stop the old man (Mugabe) and Tsvangirai; whose track record we did not feel would make him a good president.
UMakoni wayeludlawu lokos’inyama. Nxa usuqedile ukosa inyama uyalulahla udlawu uzidlele inyama yakho (Makoni was a braai stick. You put away the braai stick when you have finished roasting and then enjoy your meat),” Dabengwa said.