Zanu PF provincial youth chairperson, Jim Kunaka (JK) has stirred a lot of controversy in Harare and has been linked to Chipangano, a militia group accused of waging political violence against rival party supporters. The Standard (S) last week caught up with the youth leader and engaged him on a variety of topical issues.
S: Youths are seen as the game changers in the forthcoming elections. As Zanu PF Harare provincial chairperson, what measures have you put in place to ensure you reclaim seats that are in MDC-T hands?
JK: It’s true that this election is for young people, not just in Harare but in the whole country. That’s where we are going to define our tomorrow. Since 2008, we have been working flat out on the ground to make sure that we have proper structures. We are ready for elections.
We have been encouraging young people to go and register to vote, especially those who have finished their education. We have managed to capture a large number of youths to come and join the party. We are getting new people coming to join the party on a daily basis.
S: Zanu PF has only one seat in Harare (Harare South), how many do you think you will be able to wrestle from the MDC-T?
JK: When the MDC joined the government, the leadership of the party has proved that they know nothing about governance. They have been looting resources, including from the City of Harare. They were getting allowances, getting houses and were involved in corruption when awarding tenders. When one is elected he or she must come to develop their constituencies.
Harare South is ours but the rest of them (constituencies) went to the MDCs. If you go to those constituencies you will find that there is no development, but the MPs were given funds to develop their constituencies and they went away with the money. They have done nothing. (Gift) Chimanikire and (Pineal) Denga are nowhere to be found.
S: Is it not because you chased them away?
JK: There is no violence in Mbare, why should we chase away MPs, we expect to see development, you must come back to the people, sit down and have meetings and ask them what they want.
We have suffered for the past five years, as if we have no representatives, only to be rescued by well-wishers from Zanu PF. Shadow MPs from Zanu PF have been assisting us so that we survive, if universities close, we run to Zanu PF, if water is not available we run to Zanu PF, so people now know that there is a difference between a burial society and a political party. The MDC is a burial society.
S: Why are you confident that the people of Harare will support you this time?
JK: Where I was growing up, I had never known of load shedding or water shortages. People of Harare are saying, we never knew when we voted in 2008, now we know where leadership comes from.
Electricity bills are high, the responsible (Energy) ministry is being run by Elton Mangoma, who said he could do it but he has failed.
Even in education, you will be shocked how children have failed. Who is running that ministry? David Coltart of the MDC.
Biti (Tendai Biti, Finance minister) why are you not giving civil servants money? Diamonds are not being sold. The same people like Biti are going to tell foreign countries not to buy blood diamonds. Does he think Obert Mpofu (Mines minister) will lay money just like a hen?
As the minister of Finance, his job is to look for money for the country, but what is he doing?
S: You have been linked with contesting for Zanu PF primaries in Southerton Constituency. What do you want to change if elected into Parliament?
JK: I am not standing as an MP, I am standing at ward 11 in Southerton constituency as a councillor.
I want to make sure the people especially those from Mbare, benefit. I will come to the people and consult with them on what they can pay and include that in the budget. We also want people without title deeds to get them. This City of Harare administration does not want people to extend their houses, and it takes a long time to approve plans (for extension).
People in Mbare know me, spend their time with me. They are the only ones who can say if I’m violent, the rest is media propaganda. I haven’t ever been arrested because of beating anybody with regard to political violence. You can check.
S: Do you think your alleged link to Chipangano, known for violence, will work against you and Zanu PF in Harare?
JK: Since 2008, I chose to live among the people, learning the people’s problems and solving them. The MDC decided to tarnish my image saying I’m the leader of Chipangano. Can anybody come on board to explain to me — is it a beer hall, is it a shebeen or what? Is it an organisation and is it registered in whose name? We don’t know what Chipangano is all about, we only deal with structures in the party.
S: Why do you (as Zanu PF provincial chairperson) think Hararians will support President Robert Mugabe instead of a younger Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Jonathan Moyo or Emmerson Mnangagwa?
JK: You see Zanu PF is a revolutionary party. Even if Mugabe reaches 200 years, we don’t vote for the 200 years, we are voting for his wisdom. There are protocols in the party; we are not greedy about positions in the party. That is why we are voting for Mugabe with his 89 years. We are united.
S: You have been vocal against the construction of a service station in Mbare by one Alex Mashamhanda. Don’t you think Mbare will lag behind when development moves forward, especially considering the Bill and Melinda Gates project was relocated to Dzivaresekwa?
JK: It was good for Mashamhanda to build a service station, but we only asked him two questions. You want to construct a service station, what are we going to benefit as the sons and daughters of Mbare? He did not even manage to answer that question. Then we decided that it is better for us to construct a home industry because we survive on selling our wares here in Mbare. We once applied for land before Mashamhanda, and our application was rejected. We were told that the land was for extension of Matapi Police Station, but now it has been given to Mashamhanda because he is pro-MDC.
There was an agreement made at Harvest House, to the effect that when he constructs that service station, he is going to fund candidates who may want to stand for Mbare using money that comes from there.
With regard to the Bill and Melinda Gates project, we approached City of Harare and said guys you want to construct some flats, who are the beneficiaries? Then they said they alone would identify the beneficiaries. We said no to that. They constructed flats in Mbare at Ardbenie, but not a single person from Mbare got accommodation there.
We said why don’t you first renovate the existing flats and build family units, then you paint them and construct proper ablution facilities. Then we said if you have your own beneficiaries rovai henyu pasi (go elsewhere).
S: Do you feel the GNU has done enough to empower youths?
JK: The GNU has three parties so we need to separate them. The MDCs have done nothing; they are trying to implement Zanu PF policies. The ministry of Indigenisation is for all, regardless of political affiliation. There are many young businesspeople who can testify that they got loans to start projects. I am one of them. I am not shy, I benefited from indigenisation and economic empowerment. I’m doing a lot and I can’t comment on the projects because the enemy will start attacking me.
S: What’s your view on Zanu PF factionalism? Don’t you think factionalism will work against the party in the forthcoming elections?
JK: As far as I’m concerned there is no factionalism in Zanu PF. All that (factional) politics is found in independent newspapers. You can’t get that sort of news from the Herald . . . you have an agenda to come and divide.
We are united, our thinking may differ here and there, but we are the champions of democracy in Africa. Tsvangirai (Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai) and his people will not win the elections.