The Big Interview: Prof Moyo savages General Chiwenga

Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo was last week described as an “enemy of the state” by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga for criticising the implementation of the command agriculture programme.

Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo was last week described as an “enemy of the state” by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga for criticising the implementation of the command agriculture programme.

the big interview BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

Jonathan Moyo
Jonathan Moyo

A week earlier, it was reported that Moyo had asked the Zanu PF politburo to take a deep look into Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged manoeuvres to grab power from President Robert Mugabe through the systematic capture of state institutions.

On Friday this week, Moyo (JM) exclusively spoke to our reporter Everson Mushava (EM) on these and other issues:

EM: If we may start with command agriculture, the scheme is said to be quite a success according to figures provided by the public media. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, without identifying you by name, said “you feel unhappy that we are succeeding” and Chiwenga, again targeting you without naming you, said you were an “enemy of the state” for criticising the scheme. What exactly is your problem with command agriculture?

JM: The problem I have with command agriculture is that a beautiful and strategic maize import substitution programme that we all supported when it was initiated in the politburo by Zanu PF’s secretary for women’s Affairs, Dr Grace Mugabe, has been hijacked and corrupted by successionists who are implementing it through a task force, headed by VP Mnangagwa, whose modus operandi effectively sidelines the Ministry of Agriculture in favour of an unaccountable military structure run by soldiers. [That] violates government procedures and the law, rips off farmers and uses the programme as a parallel structure for positioning and projecting VP Mnangagwa not only as a maize mesh, but as the anointed successor.

EM: But Professor, where is the evidence of what you are claiming? Chinamasa says you are just a barking dog?

JM: The numbers speak for themselves. The projected maize harvest for the season is 2 155 526 metric tonnes. Of this, 70% is largely from the 1,4 million households that were supported under the Presidential Input Scheme, while only 30% is mainly, but not all from command agriculture.

Rationally, we should be touting the success of the Presidential Input Scheme. Notably, due to its very serious implementation shortcomings analysed by the Public Debt Management Office in the Ministry of Finance, command agriculture has not affected or changed the traditional pattern where communal and A1 farmers supported by the Presidential Input Scheme programme have over the years consistently had the best maize harvest.

Otherwise Chinamasa’s charge that I’m a barking dog is significant in so far as it reveals his Rhodesian mentality.

He is a black Rhodesian who did not dare join the liberation struggle when all his peers did. I don’t know if he’s able to explain to his children why he did not leave Rhodesia to join the liberation struggle, or even study in the free world outside Rhodesia, given his age.

Instead he chose to remain in Rhodesia where he was routinely called a barking dog by Rhodies until he internalised the insult which he is now using with reckless abandon as if to prove or remind us of his Rhodesian roots.

But as Finance minister, Chinamasa is wrong to think he can get away with insults to defend the financial mess surrounding the ugly implementation of command agriculture by VP Mnangagwa.

The sooner Chinamasa forgets about insults and resorts to the language of dollars and cents and audits, the better for him and VP Mnangagwa.

Otherwise things are going to get worse for the two of them just like the sun will shine tomorrow, come what may.

EM: What do you mean exactly?

JM: Please allow me some time to explain this. The most damning criticism of the illegal and corrupt implementation of command agriculture has not come from me or anyone else but from beneath Chinamasa’s nose via the Public Debt Management Office in the Ministry of Finance.

Among many critical shortcomings of the implementation of command agriculture raised by Chinamasa’s own ministry, I find the following six to be devastating:

l Under the supervision of VP Mnangagwa as the Task Force chairman, the Ministry of Finance issued Treasury Bills (TBs) and contracted a loan for command agriculture, thereby duplicating the two instruments concurrently for one programme.

l The programme has been engulfed with the fires of conflict of interest, lack of checks and balances, no competitive bidding, bad corporate governance and wanton violation of State Procurement Regulations made worse by the fact that the financer of the programme is responsible for the procurement of all inputs, thereby risking overpricing and rent-seeking behaviour, commonly known as corruption. And [the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission] Zacc has been conspicuous by its blindness and silence in this manifestly unacceptable situation.

l The financer, Sakunda, traded all the issued TBs in violation of their non-tradable features. This fact plus the repayments of the “loan” through the Noczim Debt Redemption Fund and the treasury budget means that command agriculture has in fact been wholly funded by the government — meaning taxpayers — but at a very high cost and in violation of State Procurement Regulations. VP Mnangagwa’s many public assertions that command agriculture has been funded by the private sector are thus simply not true.

l While the selling price of maize is expected to go down because of the abundancy of supply this season, the cost of inputs to the farmers is rocketing because the facilities under command agriculture include inputs and administration costs that cover all sorts of dubious items such as vehicles and motorbikes for the task force which would have been unnecessary had the programme been fully implemented under the Ministry of Agriculture as initially proposed by Dr Grace Mugabe.

l While Treasury has exempted the inputs secured by the financer from taxation such as duty, etc., there has been no corresponding reduction of the input prices charged to the farmer. This has opened up dark avenues for lining up pockets of individuals and the funding of a nefarious succession scheme.

All these things that have in fact been raised by Chinamasa’s ministry are made worse by the fact that the implementation of command agriculture does not have a monitoring and evaluation mechanism on how the public funds have been utilised.

In fact, there’s no financial reporting at all. Because the money being used is wholly public, it is important and necessary to follow it without fear or favour. Instead of doing his job to make this happen, Chinamasa has been playing Rhodesian politics through primitive insults courtesy of the Herald.

EM: So what does this mean to the farmer under command agriculture?

JM: Take the diesel fuel example. Extank Msasa it’s 54,5 cents per litre; duty is 46,1 cents per litre; the wholesale margin is 6 cents per litre; the dealer/retail margin is 6 cents per litre; local transport is 1 cent; transit losses are 1 cent and the Zera pump price effective 3 July is $1,16 per litre.

Yet command agriculture is currently charging the farmer $1,21. The farmer is being ripped off big time in three ways.

First there’s 5 cents prejudice, which is the difference between $1,21 and $1,16. Second, the duty of 46,1 cents per litre and the 6 cents dealer/retail margin (which amount to 52,1 cents) that the financer/supplier is not incurring are being charged to the farmer.

Third, the real price that the farmer should be paying per litre of fuel, if the programme is a subsidy as claimed by Chinamasa, is $1,16 minus 52,1 cents and that’s 63,9 cents; instead the farmer is paying $1,21!

EM: Chiwenga says you are an enemy of the state and that now they have you where they wanted you to be. That’s very serious coming from the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Are you an enemy of the state?

JM: Where has Chiwenga wanted me to be? Where he can harm me because I have refused to support a subversive succession scheme that is unconstitutionally targeting President Mugabe?

Well, I’m reminded by all this that during this country’s moment of madness in the 1980s, some of these people also murderously labelled my late father, Job Melusi Mlevu who was a Tsholotsho district councillor and PF Zapu member, an enemy of the state before they got him to dig his own shallow grave after which they shot him in cold blood and buried him.

Are we being called dogs and cockroaches for what VP Mnangagwa is for fumigation or extermination purposes just because we are saying No to unconstitutional succession and No to tribalism? What’s going on here?

EM: Can we talk about your relationship with Chiwenga. According to a report published by one publication early this year, Chris Mutsvangwa alleged at a meeting of war veterans in Harare that you tried to cause the death of Chiwenga at Mgagao camp in 1975 during the liberation struggle. Firstly, is that true and does that explain your frayed relationship?

JM: These people are not just command liars, they’re also evil. In 1975 I was in high school and nowhere near Mgagao as they allege.

I went to Mgagao in mid-June 1976 as part of a contingent that was ferried in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) trucks from the Liberation Centre in Kamwala, Lusaka.

I got ill on the way and arrived in Mgagao mid-June 1976 when I could hardly walk or sit. One of the OAU officers put me on a bed which, it later turned out, belonged to one of the camp commanders who — on his return from wherever he had been — was so incensed to find me on his bed that he picked me up and threw me down like a stone.

I screamed like a baby and the OAU officer who had left me on that bed came to my rescue. Later that night I learnt that some two or so weeks earlier on June 6 1976 there had been a massacre of Ndebele speaking Zipra cadres at Mgagao.

Because I did not know any Shona then, I feared for my life purely on account of what I was hearing. I pleaded with the OAU officer to take me to a hospital.

The next day he and a Tanzanian army officer took me for treatment at Iringa, which was the nearest town to Mgagao. I was in Mgagao for no more than 24 hours. In Iringa, I pleaded with the OAU officer not to return me to Mgagao.

EM: Have you shared this before?

JM: No but Chiwenga has been using the likes of Mutsvangwa to tell lies for too long. The OAU army officer and his colleagues from the Tanzanian army asked if they should take me to Morogoro, a Zipra camp and I wailed in protest and pleaded to be returned to the Liberation Centre in Lusaka.

After multiple interrogations by different officers I was handed over to the Tanzanian police who escorted me to the Tunduma border with Zambia where I was handed over to Zambian police who did their own interrogations before escorting me to police headquarters in Lusaka where I was subjected to further intense interrogations before being handed over to the Liberation Centre in Lusaka where I chronicled my 24 hour Mgagao ordeal of June 1976.

After a month, I was redeployed back to Tanzania with a new contingent of comrades first to Kibaha and then to Mwananyamala holding camp where I learnt my Shona.

I remained in that camp until February 1977 when I was assigned to assist with organisation for FESTAC 77 which was held in Lagos, Nigeria.

I first met Dr David Parirenyatwa there, he was a student. After FESTAC, I was sent to train as a radio producer at the All Africa Council of Churches Communications Centre in Nairobi, Kenya where my lecturers included Oliver Chimenya and Lucas Chideya.

After that course, I was earmarked for deployment in Uganda to broadcast to Zimbabwe when the UNDP facilitated my travel to the US in November 1977 to complete my high school.

During that time I worked at the ZANU office in New York under the late Tirivafi Kangai, who was the party’s representative in America, and the late Edison Shirihuru until I started my undergraduate study at the University of Southern California in September 1978. So I was at Mgagao for no more than 24 hours, not in 1975 but in 1976 before I went to America in late 1977.

EM: Back to Command Agriculture, President Mugabe has hailed it today as “beautiful”. Does this mean he doesn’t know about the corrupt activities you refer to, which would suggest you have not raised your misgivings in Cabinet?

JM: Of course I agree with President Mugabe that Command Agriculture as formulated by DR Grace Mugabe is truly beautiful in so far as it is supposed to be a targeted and guided maize import substitution programme implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture under transparent and accountable funding.

I hope you are aware that the Herald, Chronicle, Sunday Mail and Sunday New started accepting that Command Agriculture is the brainchild of Dr Grace Mugabe only after President Mugabe pointed this out on 2 June 2017 at his Youth Interface Rally in Marondera. Before that, they were contemptuous of that fact as they peddled all sorts of lies.

EM: But also today President Mugabe asked the question in Masvingo that many would want to know: “What wrong has Mnangagwa done”? Your answer?

JM: The devil is in the implementation of the programme, especially with regards to its financing. Follow the money! VP Mnangagwa says he is responsible for the programme and yet he does not want to be accountable for it. The applicable principle is that there can be no responsibility without accountability.

VP Mnangagwa is on record claiming that Command Agriculture is private sector financed. That’s not true given the criticism that has come from the Public Debt Management Office in the Ministry of Finance.

EM: A point that Chiwenga and Chinamasa were keen to make is that you’re a beneficiary of Command Agriculture who has done really well. Should that not tamper your criticism?

JM: That’s a dead point from dead thinking. Do you mean to tell me that patients should not criticise the ugly culture of a hospital where they are treated?

EM: Except perhaps for your colleague Patrick Zhuwao, the Youth and Indigenisation Minister, you seem to be fighting a lone battle in your criticism of Command Agriculture when most in Zanu PF are quiet. Why do you think this is so?

JM: Don’t be fooled by what you think is the silence of the majority affected farmers who have been financially ripped off under Command Agriculture. A stich in time saves nine.

EM: In his attack directed at you, Chinamasa claimed a whistle-blower had called him to say The Standard would be running an article on Command Agriculture which you had “helped to edit”. Gen. Chiwenga, in his interview with The Herald, claimed you have “bought the editorial policy” of The Standard.. For the record, would you like to respond to those two particular claims?

JM: Just because Chinamasa and Chiwenga edit the Herald and the Sunday Mail whose editorial practices have gone to the dogs does not mean we are all like them or that Trevor Ncube’s editors would let me edit his newspapers and keep their jobs.

EM: The central allegation that both Chinamasa and Gen. Chiwenga were making is that you’re a mole leaking classified government information on Twitter and in newspapers. Chiwenga goes further to say that he, meaning you Minister, “has written in his books that he is going to destroy (Zanu PF) from within”. Your response?

JM: The claim that my open Twitter feed has classified information is as idiotic as the claim that I have written in any of my books, which are used in higher education institutions across the world, that I will destroy Zanu PF from within.

Thankfully, my Twitter feed and books are accessible to rational people in and outside Zimbabwe who know or who can independently tell that Chiwenga’s claim utter rubbish by a desperate politician in an army uniform.

EM: Our sister paper the Zimbabwe Independent reported after your last politburo meeting that Mnangagwa is “soon be dragged to appear in the Politburo dock over explosive succession charges”. The report says you “asked President Mugabe for a special politburo session for you to demonstrate that Mnangagwa wants to usurp power.” Is this true?

JM: No comment.

EM: You have stated several times that Mnangagwa is a “successionist”. You would know better because you, together with Mnangagwa and others, were once involved in a similar plot in 2004, which ended with you exiled from the party. Where did it all go wrong in your relationship with Mnangagwa?

JM: It has never been right to begin with. I have said it many times before and I will repeat again that my association with the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration was a mistake from which I taken my lesson and moved on.

The lesson is that conspiring to subvert your appointing authority for succession purposes is plain wrong and even criminal.

EM: At a Sapes Trust lecture recently, you appeared to suggest Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi would make a good president of Zimbabwe. How does that set you apart from those advocating for Mnangagwa to become the next president Are you not all “successionists”, to borrow your term?

JM: I made it clear in that lecture that there was no vacancy either in the office of the First Secretary and President of the Party or in the office of the President of the country.

I also made it clear that I referred to Dr Sydney Sekeremayi as an example to challenge the Lacoste lie that VP Mnangagwa is the most senior leader in Party below President Mugabe and pointed out that Dr Sekeremayi has infectious leadership qualities.

EM: War veterans Minister Tshinga Dube stated last week that President Mugabe “must groom and name a successor”. Do you agree?

JM: No I don’t. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Dube is a Lacoste successionist.

EM: You’re alleged to be a member of a Zanu PF faction called G40. We know the other side, the so called Lacoste group, would like to see Mnangagwa succeed Mugabe. Who would be your choice?

JM: There can be no choice without a vacancy.

EM: Finally, with all the infighting in Zanu PF, it is becoming clear that the party will not meet its policy targets set in your manifesto in 2013 before elections next year. Do you agree that the last four years have been a waste of an overwhelming mandate to govern given to Zanu PF?

JM: The real Nehanda and Lobengula miracle is that, notwithstanding the infighting that you are referring to and which we must acknowledge as a fact on the ground, Zanu PF and the government have made significant policy strides to respond to the needs of the people because President Mugabe has not been part of the fights and has remained focussed.