The big interview BY OBEY MANAYITI
Zanu PF youths threw the cat among the pigeons recently when they released a list of alleged corrupt people that included senior ruling party officials such as Obert Mpofu and Prisca Mupfumira.
Mpofu and Mupfumira are said to have reacted furiously to the “exposé” during a politburo meeting last week. President Emmerson Mnangagwa reacted by pledging to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations amid defamation lawsuits by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and former football administrator Henrietta Rushwaya. The two were also included in the list.
Zanu PF youth commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu (GT) told our senior reporter Obey Manayiti (OM) that allegations that the youths were pushing a factional agenda were not true.
He also revealed that another list has been submitted to the Zanu PF leadership pending the investigations.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
OM: Can you tell us about this anti-corruption drive that you are doing as the youth league? What is its basis and what do you want to achieve?
GT: What we are simply doing as the youth league is to make sure that we push for the fulfilment of the party’s manifesto from the 2018 elections.
It was one of the key issues that we pledged to deal with. Remember we had promised to fight corruption and as the youth league we said elections are gone and we need to be working towards the fulfilment of what we promised.
The motivation is that as you look at the current scenario, we have a crop of leadership both in the public and private sectors who have just become so greedy and selfish to the point of taking everything for themselves without taking into consideration that we have other generations to come after us.
It is on this basis that we said as the youth leadership we cannot continue to look aside and be bystanders when we have a few individuals destroying what Zimbabwe stands for and what the party stands for.
OM: You named just a few individuals from Zanu PF and others. Critics are saying those that you named cannot be the only ones driving corruption in the country. They allege that by naming very few individuals, you are just trying to settle scores with those that you named. Are you being pushed by anyone?
GT: It is not true. If you talk of a youth league, you are not talking of an individual, but it’s a structure.
We have structures from cell up to the top and this stance that we have taken is shared by the whole body of the youth league.
We are not pushing any agenda. If you look at the composition of the people who were accused of being corrupt, they are being drawn from the government, party, private sector and others, hence you cannot say there is a vendetta.
We have armchair critics who are bent on criticising what we have done, but remember this thing has to start from somewhere.
Yes, we have not named everyone, but at least we have named certain individuals whom we have concrete evidence against.
We are making a call to every Zimbabwean, not Zanu PF members alone, that they also have a right to expose these people.
It’s not only the duty of the youth league. If people feel that the youth league has not mentioned everyone who is corrupt, they must also come forward and play their part by taking up from where we have left it.
OM: From the time that you released that list, there are some who are saying you deliberately left out some names, including a business tycoon now known as Queen Bee, who have been accused of corruption by people linked to Zanu PF such as Acie Lumumba.
GT: People have to understand that our list was not exhaustive. We have to start from somewhere and if people think Queen Bee fits in the category of people who are corrupt, they are free to suggest that and even to go to the police or to name and shame as we did.
We haven’t exonerated anyone of wrongdoing.
It does not mean that those we didn’t mention are not corrupt, we had to start with people whom we have evidence of their corrupt activities.
If people have the evidence that can be used to nail that Queen Bee, they must come forward.
I don’t think it’s fair to blame the youth league. Let others come on board, either from the main body, women’s league or from opposition to private citizens.
They have a right to fight corruption too and not to blame the youth league. I don’t think it is fair to criticise us yet those critics haven’t done anything to fight corruption.
OM: There are allegations that you are doing Queen Bee’s bidding, especially in targeting Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Mayor Wadyajena of Zanu PF.
GT: It’s not true. We didn’t even exonerate anyone and neither did we even implicate Wadyajena.
Some people are even coming up with other names, but because we didn’t implicate any of them, it means we are not even involved in their fights.
We are trying to be objective and we will not allow ourselves to be swallowed in petty fights involving individuals.
OM: Others are saying this “exposé” is actually a manifestation of factionalism in Zanu PF. Critics say those that you named are from a rival faction, what is your comment on that?
GT: No, the youth league cannot be seen to be belonging to a faction or being a faction.
We belong to the party and I would want people to come forward and say Cde Obert Mpofu belongs to such and such faction or Cde Prisca Mupfumira belongs to this faction or whatever or Cde Joram Gumbo and Tino Machakaire belong to a faction, which the youth league is against.
As long as people don’t say we belong to X faction and the other guys belong to Y faction, then that argument doesn’t hold water.
Of course, you would expect that from people who would have been named and shamed because they will be fighting back and they will throw all sorts of accusations.
The truth of the matter is that we are fighting corruption.
As far as I know we don’t have factions in Zanu PF at the moment and there are no factional fights.
By the way, who is leading those factions? It’s simply not true.
OM: Does the list of the alleged corrupt people which is dominated by people linked to Zanu PF not vindicate those who argue that the ruling party is generally corrupt?
GT: No, it’s not. This simply shows that Zanu PF is serious about fighting corruption.
If we didn’t want to fight corruption we could have just gone quiet and pretended that everything was okay, but because the party doesn’t believe in corruption, we had to come out in the open and say what these members are doing is exactly the opposite of what we stand for.
If you can recall, after the politburo meeting the party spokesperson (Simon Khaya Moyo) said there was a unanimous decision and the agenda is a noble one and it cannot be ignored.
This is the presidium and through the president it has to constitute a commission of inquiry to look into the allegations that we raised against these comrades.
The party doesn’t condone corruption and if you check, the president said it on his inauguration of November 2017.
He was clear that we are going to fight corruption and the youth league has done its part.
However, it must be clear that we are not ending in Zanu PF and this is just the beginning.
Corruption doesn’t only exist in our comrades in Zanu PF, but also even in the opposition, urban councils, parastatals and many other institutions.
Even on our list, we had to pick some people from the private sector and some from the opposition.
OM: Does this mean there is another bigger list of corrupt people?
GT: Cde Simon Khaya Moyo was very clear after the politburo meeting that the youth league was going to raise more allegations.
We were asked by the leadership to provide the full list and like we said before, we are going to release more names.
We have since submitted the names of those people whom we think are corrupt.
OM: Where is that list? Is it also available?
GT: It’s not available for the media. We have submitted it to the leadership, so the findings will come out from the commission of inquiry.
We don’t want to pre-empt what we have submitted to the commission of inquiry.
OM: The opposition says you are trying to divert attention from the economic crisis. What is your reaction to that?
GT: It boggles the mind how the opposition thinks dealing with corruption is trying to divert attention because corruption is one of the biggest threats to the livelihoods of even coming generations.
Any serious political party will hail our efforts and come and join us in fighting this monster called corruption.
For them to say we are trying to divert attention from critical issues is simply out of order.
What other critical thing is there that surpasses corruption? This is justified for us to fight corruption.
We must come together as a generation in fighting corruption. It must not be seen to be a Zanu PF fight, but must be seen as a generational fight where we are fighting for our space and rescue our country from the jaws of corruption.
Everyone must embrace it.
OM: There are also threats of mass protests against the government due to its alleged failure to improve the economy. What is the youth league’s position on that?
GT: Peaceful protests are rights as enshrined in the constitution.
Everyone has a right to protest but peacefully, so we cannot take that away from the MDC and say they are not supposed to protest.
However, I am not sure if their protests are going to change the status of the economy or if it is going to improve the living conditions of our people.
I think the MDC is just being reactionary and not being progressive.
If they have other solutions they must come forward and proffer those solutions.
Those are just political games for them to continue to psyche their supporters ahead of the 2023 elections.
The major question is: What will be the result of those protests?
I mean after the protests, then what and is that going to change the economy?
Those that have alternative solutions must just come forward and share their policies bearing in mind that 2018-2023 is a Zanu PF term.
Even if they go to the streets, it will not change anything, Zanu PF is there and we will not pay attention.
However, in as much they have the right to protest, if they turn violent, Zanu PF will not fold hands as they destroy what (the president) is working hard to restore.
As a party and youth league, we will organise ourselves to protect our properties and investments that Zimbabwe stands for from hooligans that will be trying to destroy what we are working hard for.
OM: On that note, will this not lead to unnecessary confrontation?
GT: I think they are the ones who would have started with a confrontational approach.
For as long as they get to the streets and try to cause problems, then they are the ones who would have started and what will we be expected to do then?
Just to say okay look at these people they are trying to kill us and destroy everything, God come and help us?
No, we will not do that, we have to defend our properties and make sure that our people continue with their businesse
s without any disturbances.