AN opinion piece titled ‘Zanu PF: An introspection’ published last week by Professor Jonathan Moyo has triggered debate within and outside the party with some people accusing the former information minister of political grandstanding and seeking to find "political relevance". Moyo addresses these allegations and related issuses in an interview with The Sunday Mail.
SUNDAY MAIL (SM): There are allegations that through the article, you were just “grandstanding” as you raised issues that many people already know about Zanu-PF. On the other hand, others are accusing you of using the article to seek relevance in the party, considering that you don’t have a specific brief in the Politburo. What is your comment?
JONATHAN MOYO (JM): While it is true that there’s indeed nothing new under the sun and therefore many people as you are saying do in fact know about Zanu-PF, it is nevertheless not true that what is obvious is also self-evident or self-explanatory. In any event, the piece was not about Zanu-PF per se but about critical issues in the national or public domain whose handling by Zanu-PF and the broader nationalist movement has thus far left a lot to be desired. As such, the piece was less about Zanu-PF and more about acknowledging those issues relating, for example, to when the next elections should be held and why, the reprehensibility of violence and corruption as evils that are anathema to Zanu-PF and the nationalist movement, the need to acknowledge and correct our mistakes, the need to restore our national currency, the need to embrace and lead change with the understanding that the nationalist conception of change is very different from prevailing notions of change that are reactionary and counter-revolutionary and so forth.
I don’t see how raising these issues which are hardly raised by Zanu-PF or the nationalist movement can be seen as grandstanding, but I have no problem with the fact that some comrades and other critics might see it as such. The fact that I do not have a specific portfolio in the Politburo does not mean that I cannot contribute to national debate on behalf of my party or the nationalist movement.
The responsibility for projecting and defending our party and the nationalist movement is not a monopoly of those who head specific portfolios, rather it is a collective responsibility and duty of every Zanu-PF member. I have always contributed to national debate as far back as anyone cares to remember and I have not done so as a Politburo member but as a Zimbabwean academic and now MP for Tsholotsho North who is a proud member of Zanu-PF who also currently happens to be in the Politburo. So it’s not about seeking any relevance because I inherently have that as a Zimbabwean about which I have no apologies to make to anyone.
SM: Some people are saying your article gives the impression that you are frustrated that Zanu-PF is failing to deal with corruption and violence within its ranks. Is this true, Professor, and what do you think Zanu-PF should do to effectively deal with corruption and violence within its ranks?
JM: It is a fact and not a matter of frustration that we in Zanu-PF in particular and the nationalist movement in general need to stand up and be counted against corruption which is the greatest threat to our distinguished public and national service as a party. On violence, it is not true that our party has a culture of violence and that is why levels of violence in Zimbabwe are far low compared not only to our neighbours such as South Africa but when compared to UK, US and EU detractors who suffer from untold institutionalised violence. The problem for us is that we have not stood up against violence in the way we should and that is indeed frustrating because there’s no justification for it.
On corruption, it is a fact that we have comrades who abuse our Party and behave as if the public owes them heaven and who either sit on their positions at the expense of service delivery or who abuse those positions to unjustly or illegally enrich themselves, their families, friends and networks to the detriment of the public good. The point is that the interests of comrades who fall into these temptations should override the interests of our Party or our country.
Corrupt individuals must carry their own cross and that should not be allowed to taint or soil the name, reputation and policies or programmes of our party. So we need to denounce corruption and violence in much more robust and regular ways than we have done in the past and President Mugabe has been showing the way in that regard and what remains is to resolutely punish and isolate individuals who thrive on corruption or who use violence to defend that corruption under the cover of our party or nationalist movement.
SM: There is talk that Zanu-PF can’t deal with corruption because this will divide the party and that this is ill-advised, especially now as there is talk about elections. How far true is this?
JM: The talk you are referring to is just one of the corrupt ways in which the few individuals whose business is corruption seek to defend their indefensible and evil enterprise. They spread that idle talk in the hope of making us afraid of fear itself and that is why the time has come for Zanu-PF to banish corruption into the dustbins of history.
The people out there know fully well that the only party that can rid our country of the cancer of corruption is Zanu-PF and we therefore have moral and historical reasons to rise to the occasion. This is because while we cannot deny that corruption has polluted our ranks in Zanu-PF, the public can see quite clearly that, unlike the correctable situation we face, the ranks of the MDC formations cannot be corrected because they are inherently corrupt such that the whole regime-change agenda they represent is corrupt by definition.
SM: In one of your questions you asked: “Why is it that some comrades in the nationalist movement in general and in Zanu-PF in particular seem to be afraid of change when it is a fact of everyday life and is thus essential to the survival of any living thing whether biological, social, economic or political?” Some are saying you are now trying to hijack the MDC slogan about change. Can you explain this change that you wrote about?
JM: Well, over the last decade or so Zimbabweans have been under the spell of change-mania under the MDC banner of “chinja” whose unspoken import has been to cripple the imagination of some comrades in Zanu-PF and the nationalist movement who now wrongly view “change” either as an MDC mantra or just a dirty word that should not be used in our revolutionary political discourse in Zanu- PF or nationalist circles.
The point I sought to make in the opinion piece in question is that the chinja moment was not only conceptually and ideological wrong but also that it is now behind us and is therefore history. Some of our comrades were so bombarded by that MDC chinja stuff that they started fearing change itself yet in the meantime they had all along known that it was a fact of life. Let us be clear about the meaning of chinja or change of the MDC formations. There are two key features that define what the MDC formations and their masters mean about change and one is that they mean “destroying what we have built as a country since 1980” and the other is that they mean “replacing the Zimbabwean nationalist leadership with the puppets of our erstwhile colonisers”.
The current loudest MDC proponent of the former is US Ambassador Charles Ray who has publicly said his country does not only seek the change of government in Zimbabwe at the top through elections but also seeks the “change of the whole system from the bottom foundation to the top”.
In other words, Washington’s loquacious Uncle Tom in Harare seeks the destruction of the Zimbabwe we have built since 1980 and his instrument for that are the two MDC formations, which explains why many say the MDC acronym stands for the “Movement for Destructive Change”. On their part, the MDC formations have used their stint in the GPA government to pursue change in a manner that has meant “replacing nationalists in government positions with MDC appointments instigated or sanctioned by the UK, US and EU governments”. Now, and this is very important to understand, we in Zanu-PF and the nationalist movement see and understand change in fundamentally different ways rooted in our revolutionary history.
In the first place, for us change means “destroy and replace” only in a colonial or neo-colonial situation. The essence of our heroic liberation struggle that we are celebrating this month was to destroy and replace the institutions and instruments of colonialism and UDI with liberation institutions and instruments as a matter of revolutionary change. Having done that in 1980, our quest for change since then has not been to destroy or replace our institutions of independence but to change by growing, improving, enriching and renewing our liberation thrust and legacy. This explains the saying that, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
To repeat and emphasise, our commitment to change today is not to destroy or replace but to maintain, grow, enrich and renew our liberation institutions and gains of our liberation struggle by widening and deepening their thrust to benefit the majority of our people. That is what I meant by the call for our Party to embrace and lead change as a fact of life.
SM: You wrote about “Generation 40” that you said should take “charge of the national indigenisation and empowerment thrust”. What exactly do you mean by “Generation 40?”
JM: I mean young people like you. Every revolution is fought by young people. No society can succeed only with its old guard dominating the scene. Successful national leadership requires a generational mix, which is not the same as a generational replacement. But I realise that this issue has generated quite some debate.
I got a text message from a nationalist colleague who charged that it is a contradiction for me to say that Generation 40 should take charge of the national indigenisation and empowerment thrust when supporting an 87-year-old for President. While I fully understand this sentiment, the fact is that there’s absolutely no contradiction at all between the two positions. In the first place, I have never understood leadership to mean occupying this or that position given a certain age. Leadership is a disposition and not a position while age is just a number. When Americans elected Ronald Regan as their president they were not as interested in his old age as they were in his disposition which they warmed up to in overwhelming numbers. As such, Generation 40 or G40 means two things taken together.
One is the fact that the critical core of any functional nation or country is defined in the services of young people whose maturity age for national leadership is 40 starting from 16 — which is the age that qualifies to obtain a national registration identity and driver’s licence ripening at 18 with the right to vote. If you don’t get it, the point is that in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the democratic world you don’t qualify to seek the presidency until you reach the age of 40 and the civic or political qualification process starts when you hit 16. That is G40.
The peak of our liberation struggle and independence was led by the G40 of the time. For any country to survive, it is absolutely necessary that the sum and substance of its leadership must be G40-based and driven. This is what the US was when Reagan became president and that is what it is today with the clueless Barack Obama who is a G40. As a matter of revolutionary change, the time has come for Zimbabwe’s national leadership to represent a generational mix to deepen, widen and entrench the gains of our independence and liberation struggle.
SM: Can you explain what you mean when you say “We have educated our youths. Now we must hear them by giving them real responsibilities in the running and management of our public affairs . . .” because some people are saying you want the older generation to leave the “running and management of our public affairs” in the hands of the youths.
JM: No, I don’t mean that the older generation should be replaced by the younger generation or that the older generation should leave the running and management of our public affairs in the hands of the youths but simply and only that there should be a generational mix in our national leadership as a matter of assuring our survival.
That’s all. In our case, we must do this not for any theoretical reason but as a logical consequence of our investment in education. The simple fact is that the young people we have educated as a country under Zanu-PF need to be given national responsibilities as a matter of indigenisation and economic empowerment otherwise our highly regarded education policies since 1980 will become a laughing stock.
SM: Do you think with the challenges that the country is facing, Zimbabwe should trust this “Generation 40” because it seems the older generation has been the one at the forefront defending the country from imperialists?
JM: It is not true that only the older generation has been at the forefront of defending the country from imperialists alone as G40 comrades have been there too and that is why our country has survived. Of course the G40 comrades have benefited immensely from the wisdom of the older generation, which is why that benefit must now be given concrete and visible responsibilities as a matter of national policy.
SM: Turning to elections, you wrote that the whole debate about elections has nothing to do with the alleged implementation of the GPA or the need to fulfil the so-called Sadc election roadmap “but is all about confusing everything to ensure that the next elections are held when it is practically impossible for President Robert Mugabe — who the UK, US and EU governments and their local puppets see as an unbeatable electoral opponent in the post-GPA era — to be candidate. When do you think elections should be held, who should be the Zanu-PF candidate and why?
JM: In terms of the GPA, elections should have been held by now and that is a fact whose non-fulfilment should worry all Zimbabweans who want to see peace, unity and development in our country. I therefore think elections are imminent. You should expect them sooner than most people think or want. The proposition that elections should be held in 2013 is ridiculous not least because it is being pushed by electoral cowards and people who did not win any parliamentary seats in 2008 and now want to extend their stay in government for as long as possible to enrich themselves as individuals.
Otherwise the candidate for Zanu-PF is of course President Mugabe in terms of the constitution of our party which says that the first secretary and president of Zanu-PF is the party’s candidate in any national election for the leadership of the country. President Mugabe would therefore be the candidate not because of his position but because of his disposition in relation to the interests of our G40.
SM: But, Professor Moyo, before the 2008 elections you were widely reported as having said that President Mugabe would lose even to a donkey. What has now changed for you to back his candidacy at this moment?
JM: You are right in recalling that I did say President Mugabe risked losing the 2008 election to a donkey and the fact is that, politically speaking, a donkey in the form of Morgan Tsvangirai actually went on to win the first round of the presidential elections. That unprecedented development prompted nationalists in and outside the country to regroup and support the nationalist cause ahead of the presidential run-off election. Never again should we have a situation in which a donkey can win any election round, especially if that donkey has never won any support from its own village.
SM: In conclusion, don’t you think your article was tantamount to “washing dirty linen in public” because you surely could have taken your concerns to the Central Committee or even the Politburo?
JM: Maybe some comrades might think that way, but the issues at stake are not dirty linen by any stretch of the imagination. These are very important issues being debated in the public domain and there is nothing private about them.
The issues are not about internal Zanu-PF matters but about public questions inviting public debate. Of course I fully agree and accept that any Zanu-PF answers to these questions will have to be debated inside the Party in the first instance before they become public.