Former Health and Child Care minister Paul Chimedza was one of the new faces in the Cabinet line-up announced by President Robert Mugabe last week.
By EVERSON MUSHAVA
Chimedza was one of several ministers and deputy ministers swept aside during a purge of Zanu PF officials that were accused of supporting former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s allegedly bid to topple Mugabe in 2014.
On Monday he was appointed the new Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister to replace Shuvai Mahofa who died in August.
Chimedza inherited a fractious province that Mugabe has openly admitted was torn along tribal lines as Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a rival faction, G40, tussle for control.
Chimedza (PC) is believed to be G40 in a province dominated by Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction.
However, he told chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) in an exclusive interview that factionalism was the least of his worries.
Below is the full interview.
EM: Minister, you have just returned to government following a spell on the sidelines after you were suspended over allegations that you were part of the people that supported Joice Mujuru. Would you say you have been rehabilitated?
PC: When I left the post of deputy minister of Health and Child care I was a very active member of the Health and Child care committee and the media committee in parliament.
As you know, our government has got three arms: the executive, legislature and the judiciary. So I had just moved from the executive arm to the legislative arm.
So I just continued to discharge my duties as per mandate given to me by the electorate. I never at any one time considered myself as having “a spell on the sidelines”.
There was no rehabilitation required as I was performing my duties as assigned at that time.
EM: Masvingo has been described as a hotbed for Zanu PF factionalism. As the new man in charge, how do you intend to deal with factionalism in the province?
PC: Where there is a group of people, whether it’s a political party, a church or even a family, there will be some differences from time to time on the way people perceive issues because human beings are different.
However, everyone across the political divide agrees that development is required in Masvingo, industries need to be revived, investment is needed and livelihoods have to improve.
So our differences in opinion should not paralyse us from moving the province forward with a development agenda. We have to create a new narrative that focuses on those things we agree on so we can move forward.
EM: You are one of the MPs in Masvingo who are seen as members of G40, a group strongly opposed to a faction allegedly led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which dominates the provincial structures. To what extent do you see this as a hurdle in the execution of your new duties as the Provincial Affairs minister?
PC: I have been given so many labels in the past that I have ceased being obsessed. I am a Zanu PF cadre loyal to the party and very loyal to the president Cde R G Mugabe.
The problem I have with this G40 and Lacoste narrative is that it is never about ideas. Neither group has given their vision or ideas on how issues affecting Zimbabwe should be solved.
So until that happens, I am not subscribing to either group. For me there is no hurdle, the people of Masvingo want development and progress and they will support anyone who moves them in that direction and the president tasked me to do exactly that.
EM: Mugabe recently said Masvingo province should be reconstituted due to factionalism, which he said was caused by tribalism and a nexus between the province and Midlands, where Mnangagwa hails from. do you share the same view?
PC: The president always has a bird’s eye view on issues. He makes his decisions or pronouncements based on several sources of information and I agree with His Excellency.
Normally, the extent of divisions or differences in any area is a result of the kind and calibre of leadership.
EM: I understand you are one of the MPs who attended the meeting at State House and another in Chiredzi calling for the ouster of Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe and the late Mai Mahofa whom you succeeded as the provincial chief; do you still have the same view?
PC: Nothing has changed; the president was very clear about that in his speech at the Bindura youth interface rally.
But my brief is to unite people of Masvingo and not to further divide them along factional lines. I am extending my hand to everyone who wants to see progress in Masvingo so we can work together.
EM: You wanted Mahofa to go. what do you think was the major problem in the way she executed her duties and how do you intend to be different from her?
PC: Cde Mahofa is now our national heroine, she was accorded that respect by His Excellency Cde RG Mugabe.
She ran her race and I am going to be running mine. I will build on the good she did and discard the bad. MuchiKaranga tinoti “wafa wanaka.” [as Karangas we do not speak ill of the dead]
EM: You were chased away from Mahofa’s funeral alongside other MPs who include Jeppy Jaboon (Bikita South), Joosbi Omar (Mwenezi East), while Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi was embarrassed. There is speculation that Lacoste members are afraid that you may want to retaliate? What is your position regarding that?
PC: [Laughs]. There is nothing to worry about at all. I do not believe in retaliation. The reason why the windscreen of a car is bigger than the rear view mirror is that we have to keep looking forward.
We all at one time do things that we regret later, to err is human. Besides, Romans 12: 17-19 says: “repay no one evil for evil.
Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” I totally subscribe to this verse.
EM: Do you have any hope that Masvingo will one day be united again? Why do you think so?
PC: Yes, Masvingo can be united. When people have a common purpose and interest, they will always close ranks. These ingredients are already there, so unity is possible.