the big interview BY TANGAI CHIPANGURA
Following the MDC Alliance elective congress recently, our deputy editor, Tangai Chipangura (TC), spoke to the newly-elected vice-chairman of the party Job Sikhala (JS) on a wide range of issues.
The vocal and often abrasive Sikhala responded to questions about his return to the main MDC which he, together with Tendai Biti and others, abandoned following ructions over a lost 2013 election and also about his election to the lofty position of vice-chairman in the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC.
He also spoke about the imminent mass demonstrations that the MDC is agitating for in protest against the obtaining economic and political crisis in the
country and his party’s vision of a new Zimbabwe.
He laughed off the many infidelity allegations made against him, summing it up with a bold statement: “Is it a crime to be born with good looks?”
Below are excerpts from the interview:
TC: Congratulations Hon. Sikhala on your election to the post of MDC vice-chairperson. What would you credit your election to? Would you say your election confirms your popularity within the party structures?
JS: I would like first to thank the MDC family for having confidence in bestowing me with the leadership position to assist president Advocate Nelson Chamisa in the progression of our great party.
It’s not about popularity to be elected, but it’s about people having confidence in the project and giving certain individuals an opportunity to steer the party forward.
I don’t believe it’s about being popular. It’s about people expecting results. They know I am a results oriented person
TC: From the look of it, what has happened in the party is a restoration of the original, formative MDC leadership of 1999. What can be expected from this original team of the MDC?
JS: Gweru spoke loudly. It spoke so loudly that the MDC family is no longer interested in silly endeavours and toxic insinuations.
Those whose political lifeline was toxic politics of undermining, rumour-mongering, cabalism, vana tisu vacho (those who beat their chests) must learn that the MDC family has the most sophisticated and brained people in the world. They keep quiet, misleading you and pretending to agree with you but they will strike at the right time.
They no longer want to have their time wasted. Twenty years of a struggle against a monolithic system is not a joke. Cheap talk is no longer their portion.
They want freedom now not tomorrow. Talking is no longer the business of their interest.
To all those who have been elected, including me, people want results. They want their liberation.
They voted with faith. Failure or dithering will despair the high expectations.
The faith in our president Chamisa must be complimented by astute leadership and unquestionable loyalty to the vision of the leader. We will make sure that there are no sideshows through any form of discord in the cockpit, especially myself I have no patience anymore or time to tolerate any form of discord.
That patience has long gone and replaced by total loyalty and unequivocal support of the vision of the leader.
Anyone trying to bring rumour-mongering antics, just wait and see. We will thwart, expose and viciously defeat such disposition.
We don’t want the president to be distracted from the task at hand by ridiculous shenanigans. People are waiting for their victory. It must not be destabilised by any form of cheap disposition.
TC: As one of the top leaders — captains of the party, what is it that you see as your key result area, particularly your job as vice-chairperson of the party?
JS: The most important role is to make sure that everyone is happy once again in the people’s movement. They must feel at home in the party of excellence. No more disenchantment in the party. Everybody in the party must be satisfied with our internal processes. Structures are no longer going to originate from people’s homes, pockets or from under the tree. Everyone coming in the structures of the party must come from the people.
No more dreamers who constitute themselves into a party structure from their bedrooms.
Munhu wose ibva kuvanhu (every position must come from the people). We owe the positions we have to the people. Chamisa is there because he came through a mandate from the people. So what’s so special about you to sit down in some hidden place elsewhere writing the names of your wife, girlfriends and friends and calling yourself a structure from the party of excellence?
People must feel ownership of their leadership from the street committees to the top hierarchy of the party. The will of the people is our breath. Never ever shall there be double candidates in the party again. Such intransigence will never happen.
Those who do not wish to be disciples of democracy in the party should know that being disrespectful of the outcome of primary elections is your end.
I will make sure that free, fair and just primary elections are conducted to the satisfaction of every contender and the winner is celebrated by everyone.
I promise to conduct the cleanest primary elections ever that will be even the envy of the United States of America, which is regarded as the bastion of democracy.
Discipline will be the daily business of the party of excellence.
We are ready to govern and resuscitate our nation from the current quagmire and poverty.
We can only do that if we are a disciplined outfit. Leadership must be respected from grassroots to the most sacrosanct office. No more dithering and drunken behaviour.
We are the hope for Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe needs our leadership that has no traits of wickedness and docility.
TC: What would you view as your biggest challenge at this time as Zimbabwe’s main opposition party?
JS: Human rights abuses and using the perishable power of the gun is one of the major challenges this country is facing under this regime.
This unpopular regime of the pfeerorists knows it well that they are clueless, hopeless and scandalous in all its body system.
It is over applying the force of the gun. When you over use the gun the results will be too ghastly to contemplate.
It’s advice based on historical facts. The Sharpville Massacre did not kill the fight against apartheid. It rather emboldened and intensified the struggle. It is stupid to think that Zimbabweans are fools and will tolerate them forever. Watch the space.
The gun shall silence itself. People shall speak. They shall speak in a language that will shake the people presiding over our affairs. Time up calling in my small prophecy is nigh.
People are agitated and shivering with anger. Its explosion will call upon the massacre of every single citizen. This is our country. We owe it to ourselves to preserve it for generations to come.
TC: Is today’s lawyer, the older and more mature Job Sikhala, the same as that youthful, temperamental, bold, brash, blunt — the no-holds-barred Wiwa of yester-year? What has changed and what has remained intact?
JS: Law has mentored me to be a complete self. It has opened the intellectual horizons beyond comprehension. It gave me a deeper understanding of so many things that I would not have appreciated without that wisdom. I can now understand some of the things in life that I did not see in the past.
It gives me satisfaction of survival and duty calling. Radicalism without direction is no longer an option for me. I am no longer a brewer of unintelligible conflict. When I say something I am convinced to the bone that it is the correct route to take.
By 2023 I would have completed my Doctor of Laws (LLD). I am currently pursuing my Masters of Laws (LLM) and truly it is a privilege to be a lawyer and practise it with perfection.
TC: What do you see as the solution to the problems that Zimbabwe is facing today? What do you think of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a leader and Zanu PF as the party in government?
JS: The economic mayhem he has visited on our country and on every citizen of this country shows that he is Mr. Clueless.
Fuel queues everywhere. Every day his laughable currency is losing value by each passage of a second.
Mysterious deaths of people through accidents and the torment of our people shows that he is not presidential material at all.
As we speak, one of our members in Mberengwa escaped abduction from the CIOs who are based at Mataga. Our members in Gutu Mupandawana have been sleeping in the bush for two weeks now after having been visited at night by members of the CIO based in Gutu.
TC: Could demonstrations be one of the options? How much success chances do you give demos given past experiences?
JS: Whether demonstrations are solutions or not is neither here nor there. What I am convinced about is that the people of Zimbabwe shall speak. You reap what you sow.
TC:What measures would you put in place to minimise injury, death and property destruction coming from demonstrations.
JS: Who told you that we are planning demonstrations? We have always been demonstrating since Chamisa took over the leadership of the party and not even a plate was broken. Our conduct has been very peaceful during all the demonstrations we have held in this country. The gods and goddesses of violence are known even by a fly.
TC: Protests have often yielded ugly consequences, what does the new MDC leadership like you say? How prepared are people to go onto the streets? Are you not
afraid for your life and that of your family given what has happened to you in the past?
JS: No one will ever prescribe a violent confrontation with this regime as the solution and that will never be a solution.
Whether being afraid for my life or that of my family is an issue or not is something funny to ask about. Even Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein who lived the arrogance of giving and taking life to others and their citizens have died.
We shall all die, including that soldier who was kneeling in Harare on the 1st of August 2018 mercilessly firing “at 45 degrees”. God only knows how long we shall all live and die, including those who murder others.
TC: You are one of the senior officials that abandoned MDC during Morgan Tsvangirai’s era and you have returned under Nelson Chamisa. What influenced your change of heart? Was it because of the case of it being cold out there?
JS: That narrative is incorrect. I was visited at my house by the late unifier and our icon President Morgan Tsvangirai in March 2014 and he engaged me on the need to bring back to life the MDC of 1999 by working together again.
He talked to me like a father and said let’s move together, my son, as he had a lot of trust in my capabilities to help the party achieve its 1999 goals. He immediately appointed me into the national executive as the secretary for mobilisation and recruitment. I then went on to address more than 30 rallies throughout the country.
We reinvigorated the movement after his fallout with our other colleagues. That is the correct narrative, my brother.
TC: How did you retrace your footsteps back into the MDC and who was influential in that decision?
JS: The late president Morgan Tsvangirai loved me so much. He approached me at my house in St. Mary’s after his Huruyadzo Rally and persuaded me to move together to liberation tower. No one except Morgan Tsvangirai himself convinced me.
TC: Do you think the MDC is playing its role as the main opposition effectively given the fact that Zanu PF appears comfortable in its leadership of the
country and is not being challenged on many policy missteps?
JS: MDC does not only have alternative policies, but it has the best policies enunciated in our various policy documents. The party policies are the only hope for Zimbabwe. In Parliament the MDC MPs are the best in articulating the national agenda.
We are the people who know how the country should be run. The best brains are in MDC.
TC: What is your reaction to critics who say many opposition legislators are only interested in lining their pockets and getting influential positions instead of keeping the ruling party in check?
JS: It’s an illusionary falsehood. Lining pockets to what end? Pub talk by the hopeless agents of the dead system can’t be taken seriously even by a child in kindergarten. Everyone with a position in the party deserves it without doubt. Like I have earlier said, the rich brains are in MDC.
From top to bottom, you can’t compare the current MDC leadership with that of Zanu PF. Let’s go one by one.
Advocate Nelson Chamisa versus Mnangagwa, Tendai Biti versus Kembo Mohadi, Welshman Ncube versus Constantantino Guvheya Chiwenga, Lynette Karenyi Kore versus even both Guvheya and Mohadi, Thabita Khumalo and Job Sikhala versus Oppah Zvipanga Muchinguri Kashiri, Pupurai Togarepi versus Obey Sithole, Mabel Chinomona versus Paurina Mpariwa… it’s a no-contest!
TC: There are stories that have associated you with several women since you came into politics.
JS: I became a public figure when I was a boy; from student leadership to national politics.
I even became a Member of Parliament at a very young age of 25 and I was not married. I had already found love in 1997 in Ellen Gudo who became my wife in 2000 after I became an MP up to the present. We are blessed with beautiful kids. They are now grown-up. If these other women existed at all, our marriage would have long collapsed like that of Guvheya Chiwenga or that of Kembo Mohadi. You could have published headlines of me visiting my wife with a troop of bodyguards and armed with an axe to inflict injuries to her.
Secondly, as said above, I became a public figure at a young age.
If truly I slept around with women dai ndisina kuridzwawo here nezvirwere zvepa bonde senjovhera? (wouldn’t I have died from sexually transmitted diseases?) People make stupid allegations without evidence. Some of us laugh at such reckless talk, which is just meant to vilify innocent people. I am a very busy lawyer. I am always in court every day.
I am an MP who attends to his constituency. I am a student of post graduate law.
I am the vice-chairman of the party who is always needed by the president for duties he allocates to me.
I can’t even fulfil appointments with friends and relatives who wish to see me. I also have a family to attend to. And on top you add women. Women also need attention. Where would I get the time?
Is it a crime to be born with good looks? I love my wife very much. She is the Alpha and the Omega of my heart.