ZIMBABWE has over 50 opposition parties claiming to be committed to the fight to wrestle power from long-serving President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF, but this has not stopped ambitious politicians from forming more outfits ahead of the 2018 elections.
Last week The Standard (TS) spoke to Blessing Kasiyamhuru (BK) an entrepreneur and academic, who recently launched the Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (Zipp) in South Africa, a youthful political party he says would be a serious player in next year’s polls and is not interested in ongoing talks of a proposed coalition to challenge Mugabe. Below are excerpts of the interview.
TS: Very few people know you in Zimbabwe after spending some time in the diaspora and launching your party in South Africa recently. Who are you?
BK: My name is Blessing Kasiyamhuru. [I was] born in Zimbabwe. I am an entrepreneur and an academic, a holder of a Masters degree in Management and development finance, Ph.D in Public and Development Management and a post-doctoral political science student at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and with years of consulting experience in governance and strategy within the region.
TS: What makes you think you have what it takes to be Zimbabwe’s next leader after Mugabe?
BK: You don’t need to drink beer to own a bottle store and be successful, that’s how l see this challenge. But the understanding of good governance and fear of God is what is required to run a country in the 21st century.
TS: Zimbabwe has more than 50 opposition political parties whose sole mission appears to be the “Mugabe must go” mantra. What is it that is different or new which you and your party are bringing as a new kid on the bloc?
BK: The main downfall of the so-called opposition political parties is that they do not have the anointing of God to lead the country; their leaders have yesterday’s solutions for today’s problems, and they have not prioritised the revolutionary agenda.
His Excellency President Robert Mugabe was anointed by God to lead Zimbabwe, and knows what his mandate was, where he did well and where he failed Zimbabwe. Our message is simple: Zipp embraces the revolutionary agenda of our ancestors like King Lobengula, ambuya Nehanda and sekuru Kaguvi. The same agenda that had our elders like Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo, Joshua Nkomo, taking up arms to dislodge the colonial regime of Ian Smith.
This agenda had political independence and economic freedom at the top of priorities. Only political independence has been achieved.
Zipp acknowledges the contributions to Zimbabwe’s political freedom of all our elders regardless of their political affiliations, colour or creed.
We are comfortable in our belief that God raises men and women, from time to time, to fulfil certain generational mandates. Our elders have done their part.
Today, God has raised a group of young and God-fearing leaders to take Zimbabwe to the Canaan of economic freedom, with the sole mandate of building a great nation of Zimbabwe.
Prosperity and posterity is at the top of our agenda, and Zimbabweans can only be free when there is no more fear of our government, when every Zimbabwean has access to the national resources of the country regardless of their political, religious, tribal, sectorial or racial group and when foreign economic colonialists and opportunists are out of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will only engage foreign participation in our economy from a position of strength, guided by 500-year development plans in all sectors.
TS: But how visible are you in Zimbabwe as it would seem you are still firmly based in South Africa and some of us only see you on social media?
BK: Zipp was only officially launched on December 16 2016 but with the grace of God and the tireless efforts of our partners, we just finalised office agreements in Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare.
Today’s politics must of necessity utilise both traditional and new methods of engagement. This is why social media and other technology-based methods will be very prominent in the Zipp campaigns to reach as many Zimbabweans as possible before the 2018 elections.
Many partners are already sharing the vision of Zipp to our parents, brothers and sisters in all the major urban and rural centres within Zimbabwe.
Our message is irresistible to Zimbabweans because it is practical, solution-based and addresses their previously dashed dreams and aspirations. Our partnership is growing almost uncontrollably in Zimbabwe.
In our efforts, we will not forget our technically disenfranchised citizens in the diaspora. Southern Africa has about four million Zimbabweans spread around South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.
There are also more than a million Zimbabweans spread around the world, in Europe, UK and the USA, just to mention a few.
While we are thankful of the hospitality of our Sadc partners, we believe that it is every Zimbabwean’s constitutional right to cast their ballot in 2018.
Zipp will, therefore, continue to have a presence in the above-mentioned countries to encourage our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters to come back home and vote in 2018 and to plan their relocation to Zimbabwe post 2018 elections.
TS: Briefly outline your party’s preferred economic policies?
BK: Zipp has a vision of prosperity and posterity for Zimbabwe. This will be able through very long-term planning, entrepreneurship, innovation and acknowledging God as the ultimate blesser of nations. We promise to build a conducive investment environment for Zimbabweans first and foreign direct investors later.
Only when Zimbabweans can bring back their hard-earned wealth into Zimbabwe and invest will the nation prosper. Our main campaign will be “bring back the capital” aimed at all Zimbabweans regardless of race, tribe, political affiliation or creed.
Foreign direct investment will only be allowed in Zimbabwe on our own terms as a nation and should be in line with the nation’s long-term plans in all sectors.
The rule of law, zero tolerance to corruption and tight fiscal controls underpinned by a culture of accountability will be our focus.
Zimbabwe must be the preferred investment destination for every Zimbabwean.
A Zipp-led government will encourage investment partnerships and a culture of entrepreneurship. We will create the right environment for youths to develop their ideas into commercial enterprises. We will make deliberate efforts to encourage entrepreneurship all the way from the curricula to the graduates currently in the streets.
Zipp in power aims to implement a policy of worker equity in all corporations operating in Zimbabwe. This is in line with our entrepreneurship and accountability model. The direct benefit is every Zimbabwean becomes a shareholder of the means of production and national resources of Zimbabwe.
Worker shareholding will reduce the myriad of labour disputes between organised labour and employers.
Although a national currency is our priority, a Zipp-led government will not rush to expose Zimbabweans to the speculative powers of world economic manipulators.
Zipp will do away with the current bond notes and will strive to build the conditions for establishing a local currency in the shortest possible time.
All natural resources like minerals, land, wildlife, water and energy just to name a few will only be commercialised in line with approved long-term national plans that take into account the needs of our great grandchildren 200-500 years into the future.
All such exploitation of Zimbabwe’s natural resources will be under strict beneficiation rules within the borders of Zimbabwe.
TS: Zanu PF has come up with several economic blue-prints in recent years, the current being the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) which the government has adopted and is battling to implement. What do you think are the weaknesses of this economic blue-print?
BK: ZimAsset is an aptly named document but that is where its brilliance starts and ends. As a source document for the problems that beset Zimbabwe, it is a good document but it unfortunately lacks the national outlook that a national strategic document should have.
It is unfortunately a party document that focuses on the survival of the ruling party rather than the sustainable socio-economic transformation.
Sustainable transformation has some key ingredients that are clearly lacking in the current dispensation.
First, Zimbabwe needs a long-term strategy and plan that has the country and the people at heart without all the partisan undertones in the ZimAsset document. Our leaders have focused on their personal and Zanu PF survival in all that they do.
The second problem of the document is that it assumes accountability in leadership. The current leadership has lacked accountability in all their actions.
ZimAsset is a problem statement and not a strategic document. The key stakeholders for any public service transformation are the citizens, businesses, visitors, government employees and other government departments.
There should have been clear definition of the benefits that the initiative aimed to achieve in relationship to citizens, businesses, visitors, civil servants and other government departments.
The document, however, is a list of project initiatives that has no link to national goals or benefits to stakeholders.
Our elders took to the bush in 1964 and in 1980 they gave us a politically free Zimbabwe. That result we acknowledge and we are thankful because we are heirs and benefactors of the sacrifice of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
Since 1980, our elders have come up with some well-meaning strategies and policies but they have all failed dismally to maintain the status of Zimbabwe as “the bread basket of Africa”.
Our elders were and are not equipped to deal with the modern demands of economic prosperity but we, the children, are more than capable.
We are ready to take the baton stick from them. In all the cases the failure has been due to poor implementation. Our elders failed to separate the interests of the state from the interests of Zanu PF.
With all due respect, most of the current leadership struggle to see the difference between the business of Zanu PF and government.
Therefore issues of governance and accountability will always bring down any well-meaning plan from Zanu PF and its government.
The approach has not been approached from a disruptive, thinking mind-set. How can we use technology and the knowledge base (which the document correctly identifies), to Zimbabwe’s advantage and accelerate the rebuilding process?
Using the knowledge base has the advantage that little capital is required to get started and rebuilding can start almost immediately.
How can we use the experience and expertise of Zimbabweans scattered on all the four corners of the world to rebuild Zimbabwe at exponential speed?
Agriculture and mining are good as a foundation, but they are too dependent on the external world, depressed prices and climate change challenges, etc. If we didn’t have agriculture and mineral resources, how would we rebuild Zimbabwe?
The strategy is also not clear about how FDI will be attracted. Can we take some cues from what Singapore did? What Rwanda and more recently Tanzania are doing?
We don’t have time for the long protracted process of joining Brics (although that will be useful in the long run).
How do we turn the tide so that the world actually wants to do business with Zimbabwe, without selling the country to the East or any other nation?
TS: What is your view on the structure of the present Cabinet?
BK: A Zipp-led government will adopt a services programme model in streamlining and optimising public service in Zimbabwe.
At the core of the new government structure will be e-Government implementation. Zimbabwe can operate efficiently with only 15 ministries.
TS: Do your ideas, vision resonate with the generality of the Zimbabwean population?
BK: Zipp’s vision is the same revolutionary vision of Mbuya Nehanda or the Iconic Herbert Chitepo. Dare I say, they are also the same vision and ideas that our current national leaders had when they took up arms to fight Smith’s Rhodesian government. We aim to restore our political and economic pride as a nation.
We want a Zimbabwe for all Zimbabweans regardless of colour or creed. We have God at the apex of all that we do.
These are all fundamentally Zimbabweans ideas and they are at the core of what most Zimbabweans dream of.
We are therefore a direct result of the dreams and aspirations of all Zimbabweans throughout the generations from the first Chimurenga until today.
TS: What do you think is wrong with the present opposition political parties?
BK: There is nothing wrong with our elders in MDC-T, or any other political party for that matter. They were all necessary to bring Zimbabwe to this point in time.
Unfortunately, their role has reached an end and a new breed has been chosen by God to take Zimbabwe to the next stage of economic growth with prosperity and posterity as the core goals of Zipp.
We respect the contributions of all the elders and young people in the current opposition. unfortunately, we do not share the same values of their organisations and we invite them as individuals to come partner us so that we can fully utilise the abundant human capital at our disposal as the current generation.
TS: What are your views on Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People’s First? Do you think her project is genuine?
BK: Dr Mai Mujuru is a valiant daughter of the Zimbabwe liberation struggle. It must be her wish to see the same revolutionary goals they had during the war realised in her lifetime.
Unfortunately, our dear leader’s contribution as an active leader is over but Zipp will welcome her advice as an elder and war veteran in our government in 2018.
We will welcome all our elders to advise us youngsters as we steer Zimbabwe to prosperity and posterity in the post 2018 era. We will need all Zimbabweans.
TS: Will you stand as a presidential candidate in next year’s elections and is your party fielding candidates in all constituencies?
BK: Zipp is a national party with a national mandate. We aim to address and re-dress all the constitutional errors in Zimbabwe and we need more than two-thirds majority to do that.
We will field our candidates in all constituencies and we will win more than two-thirds majority. Our model of leadership encourages all Zimbabweans, especially youths, to be leaders.
TS: There are allegations that Zipp could be a front or an appendage of Zanu PF formed to hoodwink weary Zimbabweans ahead of the 2018 polls. What is your reaction to that?
BK: Everyone in Zimbabwe has links or would like to have with Zanu PF or Zapu because they are our main liberation parties. As mentioned earlier, Zipp will not divorce themselves from the revolutionary agenda that our elders fought for until political independence in 1980. Jeremiah 23 speaks of a righteous branch.
A branch has to come from a tree and that tree is the revolutionary blood that was spilled during the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.
Yes Zanu PF is part of our heritage because they are our fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters, but we are not Zanu PF. It is time that our elders take a rest and give the business of government to the capable hands of a new generation of leaders.
We are praying that His Excellence President Robert Mugabe lives to see what Zimbabwe can be within just five years of Zipp leadership. Victory is certain and we are ready to lead Zimbabwe under Zipp.
TS: Who is funding you because elections in Zimbabwe are expensive as they demand huge resources such as cars, campaign material and to as they demand huge resources such as cars, campaign material and to pay foot soldiers, among other financial requirements?
BK: Zipp is a partnership of Zimbabweans and to date Zimbabwean partners in the diaspora have been assisting in funding the campaign because of their love for everything Zimbabwean.
The diaspora population has been the lifeline of the Zimbabwean economy for a while now as they send their hard earned money to their parents and families.
The same sweat and blood is being used to fund this final push for a Zimbabwe that we are all proud of.
TS: Opposition political parties are coalescing and said to be on the verge of forging a grand coalition to confront Mugabe ahead of 2018 elections. Will you consider joining that coalition?
BK: Our vision and mandate have been very clear from the beginning. We look beyond defeating Zanu PF in 2018. We are not seeking change of leadership for the sake of change. We are confident of our value proposition to fellow Zimbabweans.
We shall not allow organisations to pollute our vision through coalition.
We are for a multi-party democracy and promotion of divergent ideas within the political landscape in Zimbabwe while coalition defeats that purpose.
Coalitions defeat our aim of a lean government and ushers in patronage as parties try to accommodate different leaders into government, thereby putting pressure on the tax payer.
With all due respect, Zipp does not aim to recycle leaders who have been in “opposition” or Zanu PF for the past 20 years or more.
We believe Zimbabwe has produced enough young leaders who have already proven themselves in various leadership roles within and outside Zimbabwe. we seek that new generation of leaders to take Zimbabwe into the new dispensation.
Zipp is open to a partnership of all Zimbabweans, as individuals, regardless of past political affiliations as long as they embrace our vision and mandate.
It is a political party for all Zimbabweans regardless of tribal, religious or racial group.
TS: What is your appeal to voters ahead of next year’s elections?
BK: Zipp is ready for the 2018 poll. We are not asking Zimbabweans to take to the streets to insult any of our current leaders, be it in Zanu PF leadership or opposition leadership. That is not Zipp.
The culture of Ubuntu has left Zimbabwe a long time ago and we aim to restore love and respect back into the family unit that we all grew up in the 1980s.
We are calling on all those that are interested in prosperity and posterity to come in their numbers to register to vote and then to go ahead and vote Zipp in 2018.
We know it is a big task because Zimbabweans have lost faith in the electoral system of Zimbabwe but we need you for us to implement our vision.
Victory is certain because we trust that God has already heard the cry of Zimbabweans within and outside Zimbabwe.