HARARE – Our news editor Gift Phiri sits down for a wide-ranging interview with the presidential candidate for the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) — an alliance of six opposition political parties about the forthcoming 2018 general elections.
Find below, excerpts of the interview.
Q: You have been nominated to be the flag bearer or presidential candidate for CODE — one of three coalitions standing in the 2018 polls.
Where is your point of departure with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC Alliance and the Joice Mujuru-led People's Rainbow Alliance?
A: There are four main points of departure. The first and most critical is that CODE realises that the presidential powers are concentrated at one centre thereby creating a constitutional dictator.
Therefore CODE created a Supreme Council to cover those powers that infringe on the liberties and freedoms of people and avoid the president from carrying out personal vendettas and capturing critical State and independent institutions like Zec and other commissions.
The other alliances have one centre of power like Zanu PF.
CODE will ensure Zimbabwe will not create another dictator.
The second is that CODE is open to all parties that want to be bound by principles and values and therefore inclusive, whilst the others are an exclusive club with a Big Man who decided who can become a member of the Club. In essence all the Alliance members were handpicked and there was no room to even gate crush.
The third is that CODE deals with the issues and focus on providing solutions that are inflicting the people of Zimbabwe.
The Alliance focuses on personalities and positions as to who gets where.
CODE therefore puts issues, principles and values ahead of personalities. To resolve Zimbabwe’s problems the current system must be changed and not simply substituting the personalities whilst the system remains intact.
The fourth is the way candidates are chosen to represent the constituencies. CODE believes in allowing the most capable and popular candidate to represent the people, i.e. the candidates must come from the people.
The leaders of the Alliance, on the other hand decide who they want to represent, hence sharing the constituencies amongst themselves.
The CODE system allows for democracy to be practiced. All the CODE candidates will contest under one name CODE, one symbol —so no one can tell which party the candidate comes from.
This not only brings oneness but also kills the big man syndrome and allows the pooling of votes for the proportional representation candidate in Parliament and Provincial Councils.
Q: Tell us about CODE.
A: CODE is a Coalition of the following political parties: African Democratic Party (ADP) led by Marcellene Chikasha Muchemwa, Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD) led by Simba Makoni, Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ) led by Barbara Nyagomo, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) led by me, Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU) led by Dumiso Dabengwa, and Zimbabwe First (ZimFirst) led by Maxwell Shumba.
The main objective is to provide leadership to resolving the complex challenges facing the nation so as to achieve a united, democratic, prosperous, just and peaceful Zimbabwe. Make Zimbabwe a fully respected member of the community of nations and play a leadership role in the development and integration of Africa.
Q: What will you do differently if you are elected?
A: CODE will reduce the presidential powers to avoid creating a new constitutional dictator.
CODE will give space, protection and resources to strengthen State institutions like Zec, the Judiciary system, Anti Corruption Commission, etc. so that they serve all Zimbabweans equally.
CODE will vigorously fight Corruption.
CODE will give people their freedom with the immediate gestures being the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy ACT (Aippa).
Allow as many TV and radio stations and newspapers as possible. They will stand and fall as businesses.
CODE will ensure that every child goes to school. Improve healthcare systems and declare war on communicable diseases like TB, HIV/Aids, Cholera, etc.
CODE will revamp the economy to make the economy a low cost producer of quality products, stabilise the economy, and resolve the currency and liquidity issues so that people get their cash. Leverage existing enterprises and resources for the economy to create jobs.
CODE will reform State Enterprises so that they spearhead economic revival and provide cost effective services to the country. Disposal will be a last resort and only after they have been worked on.
CODE will embark on nation building, pay compensation to the victims of Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, the Democratisation struggle, fast track land reform and carry out national healing programmes.
CODE will implement devolution. CODE will refocus the mindset of Zimbabweans to bring back oneness, Ubuntu and self-belief, a one nation destined to be the leader of Africa.
CODE will unleash the potential of Zimbabweans, getting them to be the best they can be for themselves, their families and their country, and to compete against the best in the world across all spheres of human endeavour.
CODE will welcome Zimbabweans from the Diaspora and make it seamless for those with foreign qualifications. All skills will be put to good use. To be easily recognised back home.
CODE will empower women, youth and the physically challenged through skills training, logistical provision, Market access, enterprise training and access to capital through loans, grants and venture funds.
The disabled will lead independent fulfilling lives and not continue to be subject of pity and social welfare.
Q: Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
A: I will be focusing on delivering and solving the economic problems rather than dwell on power politics. I will champion the dilution of presidential powers and be guided by values and principles.
I have a record of selflessly serving others from a very young age.
For instance I worked to increase the number of black chartered accountants by the then largely white international firms. I have served in social committees, student committees and school development committees.
Has an impeccable record as a member of Parliament for Makoni North. Worked with the community to build a mortuary, teachers housing, establish four new secondary schools, built 11 classroom blocks, repaired 3 clinics, paid school fees for many pupils and brought a sense of community.
I trained as a chartered accountant, the profession known for the very high level of ethical standards. I uphold those ethics. I fight corruption.
Had the opportunity to work in business, understand how business works from the very small to large corporations. I worked to revive and reconstruct businesses and also with business start ups. I know what it takes to create businesses.
I understand the economy very well and what needs to be done. I am very action-oriented. I have colleagues in business and am trusted by business both local and foreign.
I understand how government works and what needs to be changed for the country to progress. I worked with all ministries and have a record of all the proposed projects then. I know what is required to implement them and the likely benefits from each project.
I was co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) and dealt with victims and perpetrators across the country. Learnt a lot about what must be done to bring healing and bring closure to some of our troubled past.
I was one of the negotiators and therefore interfaced with people across the board including local parties, Sadc governments, met presidents and prime ministers of Africa and the first world. In government, I led the International community re-engagement committee negotiating with America and Europe.
I relate very well with all levels of people namely the rural folk, the disabled, the young, business people, international people and investors and professionals.
I am the son to the late Solomon Sekesayi Mangoma — one of the early nationalists.
He taught me the importance of serving others and the community, he taught me the importance of liberty and freedom and he taught me the virtues of one man-one vote.
I am proud of him because he passed down to me important principles and values and not ill-gotten wealth. The same I pass to my own children and grandchildren.
As a consequence, I am a humble servant leader and accessible by people across the board.
Q: You have served in government during the GNU first as minister for Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and then minister of Energy and Power Development. Do you have anything to write home about during your tenure? What will you list as your success stories, if any?
A: There are many success stories. The very first being to ensure civil servants got their US dollar allowances in February 2009. Together with the minister of Finance stabilised the economy and put it on a growth trajectory. Held the first investment seminar exposing and making ministers dialogue with business and investors. Developed the Medium Term Plan, which was later bastardised into ZimAsset, in the process worked with each and every ministry. Led the assistance initiatives with the development partners.
Appointed minister of Energy in July 2010. Set up systems and implemented policies that wiped out fuel shortages.
Got fuel to be delivered through the pipeline and for neighbouring countries and fuel merchants to store their fuel in Zimbabwe.
For the first time since the pipeline was constructed we got it to full capacity and negotiated with Mozambique to construct a second pipeline.
Set up an independent Energy Regulatory Authority. Produced a National Energy Policy aimed at increasing electricity availability in the short, medium and long term. This policy framework is still being used now.
Reconciled with Mozambique and Zambia for importation of electricity. Increased the electricity availability. Introduced debt managing prepaid meters, lessening the burden of consumers from the huge arrears and made all users equal.
Got Zanu PF heavyweights to pay for electricity. Arranged the Kariba and Hwange expansions of the electricity generating capacity.
The Kariba extension project to be commissioned soon was my baby. Negotiated and agreed with Zambia, the construction of the Batoka Gorge electricity generating station, which had been outstanding since the 1980’s.
Restructured all the parastatals, including the notorious Noczim, under the ministry of Energy to operate viably without assistance from government and to produce up to date audited financial statements.
Built teams and worked as teams in the two ministries.
Q: As Energy minister, in 2011, you were arrested on corruption charges accused of forcing officials to cancel a tender contract for a power supply pre-payment system. Why should people vote for a corrupt aspiring president?
A: One day on a plane trip from South Africa I sat next to one George Charamba. In conversation he told me I was the person in MDC, Zanu PF was worried about. Zanu PF was worried about my competence, principled and straightforward nature.
They failed to corrupt me. I therefore was a threat to their corrupt way of doing things. I was arrest before I got into government the nasty one being the 11 March 2007 at Machipisa Police Station. Arrested twice as minister and once after the inclusive government.
The other time was about denigrating the president and the last two on misuse of office. These cases proceeded to trial.
On the first case as minister, Justice Bhunu tried the case in the High Court. Needless to say the judge discharged the case. What is interesting about this case is that, initially, the prosecutor tried his best to have me denied bail including the then notorious section 101,i.e keeping me in remand prison after the judge had granted me bail, only to offer my lawyers that they could grant me bail if I accepted not to go to work.
It became apparent that what they did not want was for me to continue the good work I was doing. I refused their offer and chose instead to stay in prison. In the end justice was done.
They made the last attempt after I had left the ministry. The arrest was because some corrupt Zanu PF people did not want the implementation of prepaid meters.
You see prepaid meters make everyone who uses electricity to pay. Some of these guys did not want to pay for electricity.
Without prepaid meters this country would still be experiencing horrible power cuts, and those inflated bills will be still haunting people.
I had the vision to correct this. Even the Kariba South expansion is a result of the guaranteed cashflows from prepaid meters.
Senior magistrate Hosiah Mujaya heard the case. The case was dismissed again. The chief executive officer of Zesa, in his testimony, clearly told the court about my straightforwardness and non-corrupt nature.
All these are a matter of public record. Zanu is full of corrupt people and that’s why that system as it stands will not bring effective and efficient change in Zimbabwe.
Q: In 2014 you sent an open letter to your erstwhile leader Morgan Tsvangirai asking him to step down, arguing that he had failed to push through reforms while in the power-sharing government with former president Mugabe.
By deductive reasoning, you guys failed in government, right? So why should people vote for you this year if you have record of failure?
A: I respected (Tsvangirai) as my leader. We had the hopes of the people to bring about meaningful change into their lives. Many people lost their lives, many where maimed, many lost their homes, livestock and their future, fighting to bring positive change. We failed those people. For that collective derelict of duty, I apologise.
However within the team we know who dropped the ball. I often would have private one on one conversation with my leader. I would tell him the truth. It was therefore necessary for us to have a new narrative and to change direction. This could only be achieved through an honourable change of leadership. We needed to bring back on track the people’s project.
In the process we were going to create a Tsvangirai Democracy Foundation and had fundraised for it. His relentless fight for democracy would have been embodied in the foundation.
Q: Before kicking you out of the MDC, Tsvangirai accused you of being a Trojan horse for then MDC secretary-general and former finance minister Tendai Biti. You then went into an alliance with Biti and he also kicked you out of his party. Now you refuse to join pother parties. Some say you are not a consensus builder, what is your reaction to those accusations?
A: I gave an interview in your paper in early 2014 and clearly explained that I was nobody’s poodle. I have always been my own man, a principled man and remain so to this day.
My fallout with Biti was over the same Big Man syndrome, which we had both rejected and embodied in the Mandel Resolution that we would be democratic and abide by majoritarian principle. He did not want to be contested.
We tried to unite with the MDC led by Professor Ncube and Hon Biti torpedoed it. We had him in CODE and he bolted out and split with Hon G Moyo and Hon Matibenga in the process. The big man politics has consistently failed Zimbabwe.
The current situation shows that I am a consensus builder.
In CODE we have developed a framework, which allows for consensus decision-making. A presidential candidate was chosen without any fissures and indeed CODE emerged out of that process stronger.
Q: Why cant you guys just field one candidate to square off with President ED? Are you not concerned you will split votes?
A: CODE is clear that what needs to be changed in Zimbabwe is the trajectory and the corrupt system. It is not substitution so that a new group as we see with President (Emmerson) Mnagangwa says its our time to eat.
We will work with those wanting to change the trajectory, we will work with those who do not want to create another dictator, and we will work with those who want to serve the people and not themselves.
Splitting of votes is a fallacy. There are more people who refused to go and vote because they did not see the difference between the contesting parties.
CODE gives a very different direction, aimed at exciting the apathetic voters, aimed at the former Zanu PF voters who want responsible and effective change, aimed at former MDC voters who were attracted by the democratic principles enunciated in the beginning.
CODE offers a future Zimbabweans can believe in, a framework on how to get there and the seriousness to get there. CODE is not about political plays, Zimbabweans have suffered enough and they deserve a break.
Q: What do you make of the ouster of Robert Mugabe through a military intervention? Do you think it was legal or illegal?
A: Zimbabwe suffered from a tyrant and a tyrannical system. The removal of Mugabe was illegal but welcomed by the majority of Zimbabweans. Tyranny still persists. No real positive change will take place until there is a legitimate government chosen by the people is in place.
Q: The economy has collapsed in recent years, and one reason is a prolonged slump in productivity growth. What steps would your administration take to encourage innovation and investment and revive the economy?
A: CODE will achieve sustained double-digit economic growth, which is shared at all levels.
CODE will attend to the structural issues to make Zimbabwe a low cost efficient producer to be able to compete with the best in the world. This will entail reforming the state enterprise sector and make them an integral part of economic activity and growth.
CODE will put in place micro and macro economic policies that will stabilize the economy, deal with inflation and price stability, and encourage local production and exports. CODE will resolve the currency and liquidity issues.
CODE will ask and work for debtT forgiveness, thereby creating extra room to grow the economy without the burden of repaying old debt.
CODE will give title to current agricultural land occupants thereby, not only ensuring security of tenure but also making Zimbabwe’s biggest asset — land, contribute extensively in the economic performance for the benefit of all.
CODE encourages the private sector investment, inclusive of domestic, Diaspora and foreign. The private sector and State enterprises will lead in JOB creation. Other numerous jobs will be created through the revival of agriculture and Infrastructure development.
Infrastructure development includes road construction, railways, new power generation plants, information technology, dam constructions, irrigation development, and housing development. The Zambezi Water Project will be implemented and will cause massive development along the corridor.
New technologies will be adopted and new industries created. Value addition will be the order of the day.
Value addition will be with some of our minerals, agricultural produce like tea, coffee, nuts, beans, maize, hides, milk etc.
Diamonds for example will be polished in Zimbabwe and significant jewellery industries will be set up. Hides can make Zimbabwe a shoe and bags centre. There will be development everywhere and there will be no need for Special Economic Zones. Zimbabwe will be the Economic Zone.
Knowledge industries will be set up. This will be led by a massive education and health industries.
We can care for the worlds aged population here and provide world class specialist heath services here.
There will be provision of back offices in information technology, legal services, accounting and financial management services, architecture and engineering services and call centres.
Zimbabwe will become the commercial and financial centre of Africa, leveraging the best financial brains in Africa.
CODE will convert the country’s economic potential through honest hardwork into real wealth and prosperity in the people’s pockets.People will have the freedom to be innovative and creative and this will be anchoured by research and development.
Q: Are you willing to accept the outcome of the 2018 election as the will of the voters, even if you lose?
A: CODE will accept the results coming out of a free, fair and credible election. These are the conditions that will make a free fair and credible election.
There should be no violence, intimidation and coercion of voters. Agricultural inputs and other humanitarian assistance should not be along political affiliation.
Zec is captured and not trusted by the population. The elections must be managed and supervised by Sadc, AU and the UN. If the game is fair no one should worry about having a neutral referee.
Citizens should have the right to freely choose their leaders. Zec has only registered less than 5 million voters out of a targeted 7 million.
CODE will declare the voter registration a failure if it fails to register at least 6 million voters equivalent to 85 percent of the target. In the case of failure then CODE advocates citizens voting by producing their identity documents only on Election Day.
The suppressive laws Aippa and Posa must be scrapped at least 4 months before Election Day. The opposition must have access to State media at least 4 months before Election Day.
Allow long term and short term election observation by any member of the United Nations.
Diasporans should be allowed to vote.