Former Industry and International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo has been laying out his plans, which he believes will help him to sweep aside the world’s oldest ruler in next year’s elections.
the big interview BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Moyo, who abandoned President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet in 2001 protesting the violent takeover of commercial farms owned by white Zimbabweans and a general lack of direction, announced last month that he was taking the 93-year-old leader head-on in next year’s polls.
The Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA) leader has been criss-crossing the country selling his ideas and when he ventured into Bulawayo, residents wanted to know what plans he had to address effects of the Gukurahundi genocide that left over 20 000 people dead in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
Our reporter Nqobani Ndlovu (NN) posed a few more questions to Moyo (NM) via email after his Bulawayo engagements over a week ago on these and other issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.
NN: Weeks after you announced your 2018 presidential bid, how would you describe the reception you are getting from Zimbabweans?
NM: The overall response has been positive. From the initial surprise and questions about vote splitting, the feedback now is about people offering ideas on how we can take the journey to the rural areas. And as I am travelling across the country, I am meeting with people that really understand that democracy is a contest of ideas and they should simply pick the best candidate on offer. I am very grateful for the response received to date.
NN: What is your reaction to Morgan Tsvangirai’s charge that you cannot form a party without people, an assertion he made in reference to your return to Zimbabwean politics?
NM: Well, one of the issues we have with our politics in the past has been this “my people” issue. At APA, we are very clear. This is not a Nkosana project, it is the People’s Agenda. I don’t own any people nor do we propose to at APA. We actually expect the people to run with this agenda and this is turning out to be the case as I travel around the country. On election night, the question will be “how many votes do you have?” I am confident my answer will be 50% plus 1.
NN: Zimbabweans on social media have been very critical about what they perceive to be your late entry into the race, saying you were likely to confuse the electorate. What is your reaction to that?
NM: We believe Zimbabweans are discerning people and they can tell the difference between the candidates before them. I think, Zimbabweans are listening to what we are saying and there is a growing sense that what we have to offer is not only refreshing but certainly different!
NN: What is your response to charges that you are a Zanu PF agent out to split the opposition vote?
NM: I think many Zimbabweans know that this is anything but. And I like that. many Zimbabweans are coming forward to me to say they like my candidature precisely because I have already shown that I do not believe in accepting the benefits of serving in a Zanu PF government as long as it does not serve the people. This is not a Zanu PF plot, but a project of conviction and we fully intend to form the next government of Zimbabwe so that we can restore this great country to a place of honour among nations.
NN: Former High Court judge [Benjamin] Paradza says the fact that you didn’t speak out about what was happening in Zimbabwe after you dumped Mugabe disqualifies you from running for president. What is your reaction to that?
NM: I would really like to have a debate with everyone in the political space about how to make Zimbabwe great again. I would welcome that debate. I do not believe in the politics of personalities. I am not the type of person who will disparage my country simply to prove a point. The politics of hate, fist waving and divisive politics is not our style at APA and we intend to campaign on that basis. We are focused on core values and competence.
NN: So far it has only been you in the limelight, where is the rest of the APA leadership?
NM: We didn’t want to start with a closed group as most do. Announcing the team would have said to everyone else, this is who we have, and we have enough. We cannot say that. We are a movement that is inviting Zimbabweans with shared core values and competence to join us. There is a team but we are also consulting to make the circle bigger as the youth would say.
NN: There has been an outcry after an online publication claimed you said in an interview that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is smart and must be given a chance. Is that what you believe in?
NM: Again, it is quite sad really that interviews given in sincerity are twisted for an agenda known best to particular channels. It is very simple, if you ask me about MDC president Morgan [Tsvangirai], VP Emmerson or PDP president Tendai [Biti], you will find my answers consistent. Why disparage people so that someone can be entertained? We are not in a mud fight, certainly not for APA and we intend to practice the politics of unity, nation building than engage in mud-slinging.
So, for the sake of clarity and good order, I never endorsed Mnangagwa. I was asked the question, “do you think Mngangagwa would run the country differently than Mugabe?” And I responded yes of course. Which I think is true, he would.
NN: Some say you have not been clear about Gukurahundi. What is your party’s position on the atrocities and how can the matter be put to rest.
NM: We have been hurt and traumatised so many times in the past in this country all the way back to the 1890s. Our lives have been one violent episode after another. How best do we heal? At APA, we believe that restorative justice might work better for Zimbabweans than retributive justice.
This means uniform development across the country, restoring a sense of belonging to regions that previously felt marginalised and creating a prosperous nation for all with institutions that serve all.
Does it mean we are minimising Gukurahundi, no! It was a period of madness and we must find the best way possible for healing and building a united nation.
The mistake we must not make is to find a narrative that takes a national tragedy into a political campaign issue. That would be wrong.
NN: Please elaborate on APA’s strategy to wrestle power from Zanu PF and Mugabe in next year’s elections?
NM: That would be telling! We will present ourselves before the people with our ideas and we trust the people will make the right decision. Incidentally, who says getting in to the race “late” as you put it is not tactical? There is method in what we are doing, and we believe it really is the right time. As we say in APA: it is time.
NN: What should Zimbabweans expect from a Nkosana Moyo-led government?
NM: We should expect the following: nation building and a genuine and concerted effort to unite the people. The people should look forward to institutions that serve the people, a caring police service, a protective and professional CIO, a professional army. Our government will be staffed with civil servants whose mindset will be how best may I serve?
What happened to the police charter? Remember how proudly we used to say our police were second only to Scotland Yard? We want to go back to those days. Put simply, our people should expect a Zimbabwe that is the best place to live in Africa.
NN: In the event that you lose the election, what will be your game plan? Some fear that you will retreat back to business and academia where you came from.
NM: APA is in this race to win. 2018 is the start of a long journey to transform Zimbabwean politics and the fortunes of our country. Future elections will see us consolidate APA’s focus on the People’s Agenda”