Republic of Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru welcomes President Robert Mugabe on his return to the country after a visit to Singapore. Mugabe was in the Asian country for a routine medical check-up., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
President returns home
Saturday, 07 July 2012 21:26
Sunday Mail Reporter
President Mugabe returned home Saturday after undergoing a routine medical check-up in Singapore.
He was welcomed at the Harare International Airport by Vice-President Mujuru, Ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa (Defence); Sydney Sekeramayi (State Security) and Nicholas Goche (Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development), senior Government officials and service chiefs.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces appeared to be in high spirits, as he engaged in an animated conversation with Vice-President Mujuru.
He left the country for the regular check-up on Monday.
Have Zanu-PF, MDC found each other?
Saturday, 07 July 2012 20:44
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
Since the formation of the inclusive Government, have Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, political parties that clearly have ideological differences, finally found each other? While MDC ministers seem to have been charmed by President Mugabe, has Prime Minister Tsvangirai charmed Zanu-PF ministers? Our Assistant Editor Munyaradzi Huni (MH) spoke to the Minister of Justice, Cde Patrick Chinamasa (PC), about these and many other issues.
MH: Honourable Minister, you were one of the key negotiators to the Global Political Agreement that culminated in the formation of the inclusive Government in 2009. What is your assessment of this Government since its inception?
PC: Considering that we came from divergent ideological viewpoints, I think the inclusive Government has done relatively well. It has been able to achieve some cohesion in terms of its operations, in terms of the way we relate to each other, in terms of the way ministers relate to each other, in terms of debating issues and coming up with solutions.
Overally, I think we have done relatively well considering that diverse ideological background. It has made achievements. The achievements have been largely restoring political stability, which is a prerequisite to any development.
Without political stability you go nowhere, and the inclusive Government has been able to achieve that.
MH: Well, everyone agrees that the country has achieved political stability. However, it appears not much is happening on the economic front.
PC: Yes. But coming from where we were in 2008, I think that political stability is a prize worth cherishing. True, economically we have not been able to register any meaningful growth. Growth has been there, but this is growth that is largely coming from a contraction of the economy and not new growth. What I think is important here is that political stability has been able to restore normal economic activity in the country. There are serious challenges which restrict any new growth in the economy.
These challenges are largely to do with lack of liquidity. The fact that we are not using our local currency, everything has now been dollarised, we do not print United States dollars in this country, we no longer have a monetary policy — that is a negative. We should have our own local currency.
We should have a monetary policy to complement fiscal policy. At the moment, it is all fiscal policies, no monetary policy and obviously that is a major constraint in the economy. It means we won’t have sufficient money to finance all economic activities that are being generated in our economy. What that means, of course, is that a lot of trade is being undertaken as barter. That is not desirable.
MH: What major challenges has the Government faced given the ideological differences between the parties which were expressed even before this political arrangement came into play?
PC: The ideological differences were on a broad range of issues. First, they (MDC) were opposed to the land reform programme, although they tried to hide behind the statement that they were not opposed to the land reform programme but the manner in which it was conducted. But the bottom line is that they were opposed to the land reform programme. So that was one major ideological difference between us.
They were also opposed to the empowerment of our people. They are afraid of indigenisation or anything that suggests that blacks will be in control of their resources, lives and economy. They are afraid for a good reason. It is because they are the faces of colonialists and imperialists who would not want them to take that position.
They were a creation, as you know, of those forces. So anything that undermines the interests of imperialists and colonialists will not find any favour with them. Hopefully, we have been able to convince them over the issue that the land reform programme is irreversible, which is why you find those statements scattered all over the Global Political Agreement. Whether they agree with this statement genuinely or not is another question.
MH: Why do you doubt their sincerity?
PC: I doubt not because of them, but because of the forces behind them, forces that drive them — your Bennett, Eddie Cross and the whole phalanx of Rhodesian forces behind them. That is the major threat to this country and also the MDC itself. The MDC cannot have a mind of its own other than a Rhodesian mind, and that is a problem with them. We also had ideological differences over sanctions. Again, understandably, being the face of colonialists, they went and asked for the sanctions to be imposed against us. Rhodesians, in collusion with the MDC formations, lobbied for the sanctions to be imposed against us.
Naturally, it has become very difficult for them to call for the unconditional lifting of the sanctions. It has taken time. They could not even face up to the real name of the sanctions. They preferred to use “user-friendly” terms with the people with whom they colluded to impose sanctions. So, because of the ideological differences, it took us time to get where we are.
I think in the re-engagement committee, I cannot say the same outside that, the Minister of Finance (Mr Tendai Biti) is agreeable now that sanctions must be lifted unconditionally, but that was not the case from the beginning. There were other areas where we found ideological differences, but essentially the MDC was attacking the core of the liberation struggle: the land issue and the black people’s control over the resources of the country.
MH: On what fundamental principles and areas have the parties found congruence in light of these ideological differences? And what brought about this common understanding?
PC: There has not been any congruence. We have agreed, I think, on very minor issues to get things going. This is why there has been no movement on major issues. For instance, we have disagreed on the issue of agriculture. Zanu-PF’s position is that it empower the people by distributing land to them. It wants them to be productive and that focus in terms of resource allocation must be devoted towards agriculture.
In fact, agriculture is the foundation of the economy. If you do everything in agriculture, all the other things will fall into place, will come to life. We have not been able to attain congruence, which is why you find agriculture is now declining.
MH: So, in short, you are saying Zanu-PF cannot trust the MDC formations?
PC: Certainly on major issues we cannot trust them to implement. Even if they seek to do, their heart is not into it. Even in terms of land, they have not fully accepted the distribution (of land) to black people; in fact, I notice that most of their thinking, especially their failure to finance agriculture, is to prove that blacks cannot be productive, and, therefore, justify any changes that they might want, in other words, justify that the only productive people are whites.
MH: But their argument is that the land that has been distributed is being under-utilised.
PC: Yes, naturally, it will be under-utilised. I have said it on many occasions I would not want to see any assessment of people’s productive capacities at this moment because the resources are not there. The few who are producing are doing so from their own resources, and you know what we went through in 2008. All our capital, all our bank accounts were washed out. We have had to pull ourselves by our own bootstraps. I accept that there is a lot of land that is not being productive. It belongs to people with no capacity to utilise it.
MH: Let me take you back to the negotiations that led to the formation of the inclusive Government. What was the feeling in Zanu-PF as the negotiations began?
PC: I think what you need to understand is that negotiations did not start overnight. They started some time in 2000 when a team that comprised the current Vice-President of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, tried to bring us together. I had the privilege of leading our delegation to those talks. The negotiations did not last three days, if I recall correctly. They collapsed.
In fact, we collapsed them because we were so diametrically opposed. They started from the premise that there should be a reversal of the land reform and we said, ‘Nonsense!’ So, we collapsed the negotiations and they did not go anywhere. Later on, of course, we tried to unpack the issues and I was able to meet informally with Professor Welshman Ncube, who was the secretary-general of the MDC when it was still united. We started meeting informally at my house in 2001 to unpack the issues and ascertain what the issues of concern were to the MDC.
They characterised their concern as the constitution. Zanu-PF did not see it that way.
The problems were arising from the land issue. So that was the first issue we addressed. At that time, even with Prof Ncube, they (MDC) were not ready to talk about land.
They were not given a leash to discuss land by those forces that were bent on reversing (the programme). We then suggested to start with areas where they did not have any problems.
MH: At that time was there consensus within Zanu-PF to engage with the MDC?
PC: As I said these were informal discussions because we wanted to see whether these would be productive or not. It was only after I thought there was something coming out of it in terms of productivity that I had to inform the President. Only the President and a few other colleagues knew that I was meeting informally with Prof Ncube.
So if anything did not materialise that would have been the end of the day. It was basically to try to find each other, to try and find consensus so that we could move forward as a united people. So, we first tackled the issue of the constitution. At some point, we were meeting almost on a daily basis.
MH: This was still informal?
PC: Informal. Later, when the President felt the party should be informed about the negotiations, the bilateral meetings between Prof Ncube and I, it was then reported to the Politburo. We were then constituted — formally now — into a team, comprising myself for Zanu-PF and Prof Ncube on the MDC side. We were able to agree and initial a draft, which is not the Kariba Draft. We negotiated the issue of land, especially the need for a constitutional amendment in order to settle the concerns of Zanu-PF. Again, we agreed that what had been done was irreversible and that the acquisition will continue. We even drafted the amendments which we again initialled. We went further to discuss the issue of Electoral Reforms.
Everything was going well until 2005. By that time, we (Zanu-PF) had acquired a two-thirds majority in the House (Parliament) unlike before. From 2000, we had the majority, but not two-thirds to change anything, although we could change the law. In 2004, we were able to make amendments to the Electoral Act. We had their (MDC) commitment.
Unfortunately, they withdrew their support when it came to Parliament. Fortunately, we had the majority in Parliament and managed to push through the amendments. But those amendments were amendments that were agreed between Prof Ncube and I.
MH: Did Prof Ncube explain to you why his party was backtracking on issues you would have agreed on?
PC: They decided not to co-operate with Zanu-PF for whatever reasons. It does not matter what the reasons were anyway. The bottom line is they decided to renege on a commitment they had made that we push these reforms jointly — Zanu-PF and MDC. It did not bother me because we had the majority in Parliament and we went ahead, unilaterally, to push through what had been commonly agreed. The outcome, basically, was they no longer had any concerns about the Electoral law.
We also now had a two-thirds majority in 2005. I was able to push the constitutional amendments that we had agreed over land. Again, we unilaterally did it. The MDC withdrew their support, but I have documents that they signed, agreeing to these reforms.
The reasons (for reneging) are not too far to find. They are not free from their masters. The moment they went to report what they had done, what they had agreed to and the import of that was appreciated, they were not given permission to co-operate with Zanu-PF, especially on the issue of land. Then there was also a split (within the MDC).
The re-introduction of the Senate was also agreed to. It was part of the constitutional draft to which we had agreed between Prof Ncube and I, representing our respective political parties.
MH: You said Prof Ncube felt undermined. Do you think this contributed to the split of the MDC?
PC: Clearly, in my view, and we come across it again in future negotiations, it was very clear that Tsvangirai was not his own man and he vacillated. He would make a commitment, make an undertaking, and as soon as he saw a white man, he would change his mind.
There were several moments . . . you meet him, he makes a commitment, he meets a white man, he will change his mind.
MH: Did Prof Ncube express his frustrations to you?
PC: No, no, no, he did not. Well, I could just read from outside. At the end of the day, he was not delivering on any agreements that we had entered into in terms of bilateral support.
He was not delivering and what brought matters to a head, which surprised me, was that the decision we had taken together to reintroduce the Senate, actually ended up splitting the party and I can only read that that was the height of his frustration.
More so when that decision, from my understanding, was put to the vote and there was overwhelming support for supporting the re-introduction (or the Senate). Tsvangirai had said, even before the vote, that whatever the outcome of the vote, everyone was supposed to abide by that decision. But after the vote, he decided to renege and go against the decision of the majority. In other words, he proved that he was not a democrat, but just a dictator. So, dictatorship on the part of Tsvangirai split the party and I could understand that Prof Ncube had reached the end of his tether in terms of frustration and so on.
MH: We now move on to the negotiations that were mediated by former South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki. Initially, some quarters thought Zanu-PF would not agree to go into such negotiations with the MDC. What made Zanu-PF agree to the Sadc-brokered talks?
PC: To be honest, I do not know where people got it from that there was resistance on the part of Zanu-PF that we should not have dialogue. As a party, we have always maintained a policy of openness with genuine Zimbabweans who are interested in the future and destiny of our country. We are open to suggestions. As long as the direction is correct, we have never said we will not talk to Zimbabweans as a party. As a party, our doors have always been open to talk to whoever thinks we can improve our situation. I am not aware that there was any resistance from the party.
MH: Reports also emerged that some of your colleagues in Zanu-PF felt you, the negotiators, were “selling out” because of the concessions you made with the MDC during negotiations.
PC: Well, that was outside the party. I do not know whether you can give any credence to things that were said outside the party. We kept the Politburo informed of what we were doing throughout. I never heard anyone make the statement that we were selling out. We were aware of the bottom line and the bottom line was we should not throw overboard any fundamental policies of Zanu-PF. Essentially, as we were negotiating, the fundamental issues of the moment were the land issue and the policy that blacks should have control over their resources. Whatever concessions we made, the bottom line was we could not make concessions on fundamental policies of the party. If you look at the Global Political Agreement, there are no concessions which undermine the thrust of the party.
MH: When you look back at the negotiations, do you think certain things should have been done differently?
PC: The only thing I think could have been done better is the constitution-making process. When we negotiated, we agreed that the Kariba Draft, which we all negotiated . . . after the MDC split, we were then now a threesome — Prof Ncube, Tendai Biti and I, should form the basis of further discussions.
MH: What exactly brought Zanu-PF and the
MDC to the negotiating table?
PC: What basically brought us to the negotiating table under Sadc was the unfortunate assault on Tsvangirai at a police station. Unbeknown to anybody, the forces had been gathering storm outside our borders. International forces opposed to the land reform programme seized that opportunity to try to impose a solution on the country and to reverse the land reform.
As you know, this went on later to gather momentum, which ended with a Security Council resolution to try to impose a Chapter 7 situation on our country. What triggered it was the assault which was nothing really to write home about, but it gave the pretext for external intervention in Zimbabwe. Fortunately for us, Sadc has always been a strong organisation. Sadc insisted that the resolution of any problem in Sadc is the primary responsibility of Sadc. They quickly met in Dar es salam and constituted a facilitation team headed by President Mbeki to try to resolve the contradictions that had arisen in this country. So that is what happened.
MH: Several MDC-T officials keep showering praise on President Mugabe after working with him in the inclusive Government. You have also worked with Prime Minister Tsvangirai, have your views about him changed from the way you used to see him before the inclusive Government?
PC: My views have not changed. We had quite close contact during the negotiations. As a person, he is a nice person: affable . . .
MH: You meet and joke with him. . .
PC: He is affable, but as a leader, I find him indecisive. He vacillates. He makes undertakings which he does not fulfil. That in a leader I find to be very undesirable and unacceptable. That is the major weakness of the Prime Minister. He is indecisive; he takes the advice of the last person he woul have consulted. He has no mind of his own; that is his problem and I think he also has a terrible weakness for white people and their interests. He wants to be seen in very good light by imperialists, colonialists, Rhodesians. That is what I find to be fundamentally flawed about his character.
MH: Could this view be one of the reasons why most Zanu-PF ministers do not attend his Council of Ministers meetings?
PC: No, no . . . we attend. Sometimes we are absent in the same way that we are also absent from Cabinet because of other commitments outside the country. I would not want to think that there is any policy by Zanu-PF ministers not to attend the Council of Ministers meetings. We always send apologies when we do not attend; just like we send apologies when we do not attend Cabinet.
MH: How would you describe your relations with MDC ministers?
PC: It is a good working relationship. I have no problems. Maybe it is because of my ministry. To be honest, I have no problems working with any of the ministers of the MDC.
MH: Minister, do you think it is still possible for the elections to be held this year?
PC: What the President has said is that we are committed to the constitution-making process, to see it completed and that elections will follow after the constitution-making process. Our position (as Zanu-PF) is they should be this year, but obviously it will depend on a number of other processes, but our desire as a party is that elections should be held this year. But you must also bear in mind that we have until June next year under the constitution to hold the elections. The Constitution requires that by June 29 next year elections should have been held, which is the day when the President was sworn in.
MH: Zanu-PF wants the elections to be held this year. Now considering the processes involved . . .
PC: No, no, no. I do not want to speculate. What is important is that we must speed up the constitution-making process. If we complete it early, it will be possible to have elections this year. If we do not, that means they may spill over into next year.
MH: Do you think Zimbabweans are ready for elections?
MH: How do you gauge that?
PC: Why would you think they are not ready? What do you mean by, ‘Are Zimbabweans ready?’
MH: The institutions that run elections.
PC: They are very much ready. All they just need are the resources. You can ask them to have elections tomorrow. If you are talking about institutions; oh yes, they are more than ready. You can ask them to have elections next week if you give them the resources. What they may not have are the resources, and, of course, they do not have resources.
MH: What is the correct position on by-elections? When are they supposed to be held?
PC: The correct position is that there was no money. As you know, there are almost near 30 vacancies in both Houses of Parliament.
MH: So, you are saying there was no money for by-elections . . .
PC: Yah, there was no money.
MH: But you can find money for national elections and not the by-elections?
PC: Well, that is not my problem. Let those whose headache it is to find the money do so. It is not my problem.
MH: The issue of violence keeps coming up in socio-political discourse. What do you think needs to be done to stem it?
PC: Well, it comes up . . . first it is distorted and exaggerated. One isolated incident of violence is presented as something that is taking place simultaneously nationwide. All these distortions, fabrications and manipulations are done for a purpose, for an objective. The objective is to create the impression that the country is ungovernable in order to justify external intervention. This is done by political parties that know that they do not have the support of the people. So, in order to avoid elections, they would want a situation which will be ungovernable to justify external intervention. There is no violence. We all know there is no violence.
But there is no country anywhere in the world that can boast freedom from criminality. No country can basically swear that there will be no crime within its borders. Unfortunately, for the MDC formations, they try to project a situation which is not borne by the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is that we are a peaceful country; more peaceful than the countries they tout as the paragons of democracy, peace and stability.
The problem that we have and it is arising from the fact that when the MDC formations gauge their grassroots support and they find it is not there, they fear the elections.
Unfortunately or fortunately, they have tasted power, so they do not want to relinquish power.
MH: Turning to the constitution-making process, the people out there are wondering what exactly is happening. Where are we in terms of the constitution-making process?
PC: I thought the people were aware that the select committee produced the first draft.
They are also now aware that the management committee is now seized with that project to see it to finality, to produce a draft they can give to the principals (of the inclusive Government) from there we can move forward. As you know when the first draft was produced, the management committee did not even look at it because we were told it had not been fully discussed by the select committee. We insisted that they go and fully discuss it. We also insisted that they ask for input from the political parties, which was done. So when the management committee commenced its deliberations, it was given the first draft and all the input from the political parties, including lists of agreed and disagreed issues and that is the task we are seized with at the moment. I would not want to go into detail as to how far that task is and you will not ask me any questions about any issue arising from that. We have agreed that in order for us to be productive, we must keep our deliberations out of the media.
MH: But surely you can tell us when we are likely to hear from you.
PC: No, that also I will not tell you. You will hear from us once we have finalised that task. To finalise the task we must produce.
Thereafter, you will hear from us and I will be able to give you interviews on that matter.
MH: There are concerns that Zanu-PF has brought its input into the constitution-making process, concerns that are almost killing the process.
PC: No, no, no. . . I will not be tempted to respond to any questions to do with the constitution.
MH: Turning to the multi-currency system that you introduced as Acting Minister of Finance, do you think the multi-currency system has served its purpose?
PC: Yes, it has served its purpose. It killed hyperinflation overnight. In fact, much of what we are touting about economic stability, the foundation is dollarisation.
MH: But the MDC are claiming that they are the ones who brought all the stability?
PC: That is not true. The stability of the economy is coming from the introduction of the multi-currency system. Personally, I am not worried about people who claim credit for things that they have not initiated. What I am grateful to Biti for is that he was able to adopt and carry forward the policy. He did not reverse anything. He has maintained it. He lost the plot in one or two areas. He lost the plot over the issue about local currency. I strongly believe that we could have killed the current liquidity problem after maybe two years if we had introduced our own currency to run concurrently with the other currencies.
I am not an economist, but any economist could have come up with a policy to allow the introduction of a local currency printed in relationship with the foreign currency that is circulating in the domestic economy and that would have assisted a lot. He should have brainstormed in that direction.
MH: But has the issue been brought to Cabinet?
PC: He has not. He is the Minister of Finance . . . you cannot run someone else’s ministry. You can only bring up the subject, but it needs someone who can take up the idea and run with it in the same way he ran with the idea of multi-currencies for which I am eternally grateful to him. I am eternally grateful to Minister Goche for running with the idea of toll gates. Things have not happened entirely in the way we envisaged, but, overally, the direction has been maintained.
MH: We saw the signing of the Anti-Sanctions Petition. How effective has that been?
PC: It is effective from the standpoint that before you seek to change international opinion in any way, you must first have the support of your domestic population. You must galvanise your population so that they see how evil the sanctions are and they all will call with one voice for the lifting of those sanctions. So to that extent, we now know, after the petition, that 99 percent of the population with the exception of the leadership of certain parties, of the MDC, we knew that the people were behind us in supporting the lifting of sanctions unconditionally.
There is great awareness that we are facing problems because of sanctions. So, if you go into the streets, people would tell you about sanctions. They are certainly aware that they are hurting ordinary people. They will also be very clear in their call for the lifting of sanctions. That in itself is major. That collective voice should certainly influence first Sadc. Fortunately and happily, Sadc is speaking with one voice on this issue. That collective voice has also influenced the African Union and there is a resolution by the African Union calling for the lifting of sanctions. Whether or not the African voice, Sadc voice, the Zimbabwean voice will have any impact on those countries which imposed sanctions is another issue.
MH: The EU is meeting later this month to review the sanctions. Is there any likelihood that they will suspend or lift the sanctions?
PC: To be honest, I am not optimistic that they will lift them unconditionally. They may come up with some statements which mean nothing and are of no significance. At the end of the day, I do not think they are ready to lift sanctions unconditionally. Why do I say so? They have not achieved the foreign policy objectives of the sanctions which were to achieve a reversal of the land reform programme and regime change. They have not given up on these two policies. So, if they lift them (the sanctions) I would be very surprised because they have not yet achieved their foreign policy objectives. They do not want Zanu-PF as a key player in the politics of Zimbabwe. Their policy is to impose a puppet regime so that they can continue the same exploitative colonial relationship that we have had with our former colonial masters.
MH: Do you think the two MDC formations are sincere in their call for the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union?
PC: Let me put it this way: Within the re-engagement committee, I read sincerity of the team members. I, however, don’t think the MDC-T leadership is sincere. My reasonable suspicion is that anything that will make this country prosperous they perceive it as not good for themselves as a party. So, anything that continues to keep Zimbabwe in a state of poverty, in a state of economic decline — that is what the MDC-T party wants to see in this country. They want any bad economic situation to be blamed on Zanu-PF.
That was basically their platform in 2008, which is why they were able to achieve whatever support they thought they got. If we go to elections when this country is economically prosperous with no sanctions, economically prosperous, looking to the future, optimistic about our prospects for the future, MDC will not win any support. They can actually be written off the political map.