One of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s surprise picks in a Cabinet unveiled last week was Terrence Mukupe, a former banker.
Mukupe, now the deputy Finance and Economic Development minister was controversially elected as Harare East MP in 2015. Controversy seems to have followed him in the National Assembly.
At one time, his Zanu PF counterpart MP Lawrence Katsiru reported Mukupe to Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda claiming he had threatened to kill him in the House.
Mukupe was brought into Parliament through the support of ousted Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere but before long, the two had a spectacular fall-out.
The MP also claims that former vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko, former Finance minister Ignatious Chombo and ex-Transport minister Jorum Gumbo had tried to prevent him from winning his current parliamentary seat.
Mukupe feels that technocrats must now run government while the old guard retreat to the Zanu PF politburo. Our senior reporter Veneranda Langa (VL) spoke to Mukupe (TM) before his surprise appointment last week.
VL: There are reports that former Local Government minister Kasukuwere is the one that supported your candidacy as Harare East MP against Mavis Gumbo. What is your comment on that?
TM: That’s very true. When I submitted my resume as a prospective candidate to the Harare provincial electorate directorate, it was rejected on the grounds that I had started campaigning before it was time.
Surprisingly, the letter that was then submitted to the then national commissar by Harare province stated that I did not have the prerequisite years as a member of Zanu PF.
The national commissar took my case to former president [Robert] Mugabe who then ordered that I be reinstated as a candidate as I had served the party in another portfolio as a direct appointee of Mugabe, which was not for public consumption.
I went on to win the primary elections despite the fact that Mavis Gumbo bused in over 300 people from Epworth and Harare South.
Former vice-president Mphoko and former secretary for administration Chombo then hatched a devious plan that resulted in Mphoko writing to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that Zanu PF did not recognise my candidature.
The fight over my candidature became very public with Mphoko, Chombo and Gumbo on one side and I had Kasukuwere, Lovemore Matuke, the late Shuvai Mahofa and Josaya Hungwe on my side.
Note that G40 and Lacoste had not been born at that point in time. After I was declared by the politburo as the bona fide candidate, Kasukuwere joined hands with Mphoko, [Patrick]Zhuwao, Moyo and Chombo to form G40 and Jorum Gumbo came to our side.
VL: What were the reasons that made you to stop supporting the G40 kingpins like Kasukuwere even when they had supported your candidacy?
TM: The untold story is that there was a cold war between Chombo and Kasukuwere during the period I declared my candidature.
The controversy surrounding my candidature provided a fertile ground for Kasukuwere to show Chombo that he owned the party structures. We had no personal relationship at all.
VL: Recently Marondera Central MP Lawrence Katsiru (Zanu PF) alleged in the National Assembly that you had threatened to kill him. What was the problem and how serious are your problems with Katsiru?
TM: We did have a heated exchange over constituency boundaries. Not once did I threaten to kill him, but I’m happy we have found each other and our relationship is now cordial.
VL: You at one time slammed Mugabe for retaining permanent secretaries accused of graft. Who are those secretaries in question and do you still feel that Mnangagwa must fire them?
TM: The auditor-general’s reports as well as investigations of several parliamentary portfolio committees were clear that several secretaries were of questionable character and were federally corrupt.
I don’t think it would be fair at this point in time for me to pre-empt the actions that Mnangagwa is about to take.
VL: As Mnangagwa chooses his new Cabinet, what is your view on young people and technocrats taking over some ministries as ministers? Are there some old big wigs that you feel must continue serving in government?
TM: My feeling is that we should separate government from politics. Let the old guard be in the politburo and technocrats run government. Appointment should be based on meritocracy.
VL: When Mugabe resigned you said your heart bleeds, yet it was necessary for him to go. Explain, are you happy or sorry that he has resigned.
TM: I’m sad with the way he had to leave power. This is a man who did a lot for our nation, a hero to the pan-African cause.
He deserved a better ending to his legacy. I am genuinely sad and sorry with the manner he exited and how those around him manipulated his advanced age.
VL: Do you still have respect for Mugabe?
TM: To the grave, he will always be a hero to me and the founding father of our great nation. I still have his portrait in my offices.
VL: What is your view of Mnangagwa. Do you see him ushering in reforms that will bring in economic and political stability in the country?
TM: If you analyse his first official speech, it’s clear that the thrust of his government will be anchored on economic revival, an exclusive culture, zero tolerance to corruption, clean business and better relations with the world and in particular mending strained relations with the West especially the USA.
VL: What is your view of the opposition and your forecast of the outcome of the 2018 elections and why?
TM: They have matured as politicians as they are now putting national interests first over self-fulfilling agendas such as calling for sanctions on the citizenry.
It was lovely to see all opposition leaders attending the inauguration of the new president of the Republic.
What the opposition needs to see is a leadership renewal and a change in their chain call which was solely anchored on removing Mugabe from power.
Since I’m Zanu PF I can only prophesy through my spiritual spectacles that we are going to romp to victory.
VL: Who is Terence Mukupe? Tell us about your career before politics and how you ended up in Parliament?
TM: I’m a born again Christian who attends church at Borrowdale Community Church under the able stewardship of Bishop Ngwiza Mkandla.
I’m an applied mathematician by education and an investment banker by training.
I have practiced banking in every continent but primarily in New York. I was the first black deputy chief investment officer of New York State Insurance Fund where I managed an asset base of $55,2 billion.
I came back to Zimbabwe to run a Russian-owned financial outfit. Ever since I came back into the country, I was appointed by Mugabe to oversee some of the party’s portfolio companies and that led to my natural transition to active politics.