The Sunday Mail
Victor Matemadanda recently won the Gokwe Central seat on a Zanu-PF ticket. Last week in Gokwe, the war veteran leader, who is not used to mincing his words, spoke to our Features Editor Garikai Mazara . . .
Q: What is the state of the party and what is the way forward?
A: The party is okay but there are some stupid individuals within Zanu-PF. Zanu-PF is a seasoned party and it has a clear constitution with clear ideology; clear party line and clear party policy. But fools who get into Zanu-PF for power don’t know how Zanu-PF operates. I am sorry I am using language which may sound obscene. But this is why you find people like Jonathan Moyo who get into the party and climb as high as the Politburo but if you listen to what he is talking about at the moment, that is not Zanu-PF language.
So we continue to make those mistakes, that someone just comes into the party and without proper orientation, he is given powers. When we went to war, we went with so much anger, wanting to vent anger on headmen and their relatives because they would have taken our land but when we got to the front, we got proper orientation on who the real enemy was. So we have people within Zanu-PF who don’t know who their real enemy is, people who lack political history. You see people being proud to be greeted by a senior party official, being seen with a senior party official, being seen at the front table. There are some, like Obert Chinyama here with me, who started working at the party office here in Gokwe in 1980 and met so many obstacles. Someone will come today and want to erase what was done by those who have been there. But you cannot erase what was done by someone because you don’t know how it was done.
That is the problem that we have in our party. We don’t have inter-party fighting, we have some misguided elements who don’t know what they are supposed to do. But you cannot blame them, because we would have failed to give them the correct orientation before they got the positions.
Like someone ends up in the Politburo yet that person cannot do a proper slogan. And that person cannot be taught anything because he will argue that I am now your “chef”. Right now we think the Herbert Chitepo College will do a lot of work, and if someone joins the party, they should start from the bottom right up to the top so that we won’t end up having the “bhora mudondo” ideology because if someone was bred within the Zanu-PF structures, they will never brood such ideas.
Take for example, those who went to war, some of them were not educated. Then came those who were taken from high schools or universities, when they got to the war front, the leadership was not changed to accommodate the newly arrived, better learned. Instead, they would become assistants, deputies to the uneducated senior and write on their behalf.
And we never found a single situation where the assistant would say I want to become the leader. Then there are those who came, thinking that Zanu-PF is a labour market, who when their ambitions are not matched, they go to every other political party.
Look at this young man from Masvingo, Bhasikiti, to understand what he really wants, you won’t get it. Even the old man, Robert Mugabe, to imagine he is the one who led us for so many years . . . if you listen to his mutterings, that he is now supporting (Nelson) Chamisa, then you wonder if he is still sane. If you look at Mugabe, some will ask, but you were with him. Truth is, he refused training . . . if you refuse training, you don’t have the basics of Zanu-PF.
Q: Party renewal, if we are looking at the 2023 elections, there will be lots of first-time voters, what are you doing as a party to capture these voters?
A: That I am not qualified to talk about, because that belongs to the commissariat or the party’s spokesperson. But our party has a youth policy. If managed properly, the same youth policy that recruited all of us to go to war, it is the same youth policy that recruited the war collaborators who were aged from 10 years upwards. The same tactics, if used, can recruit more than enough voters for Zanu-PF.
But if we employ wrong people, we create a disaster. So I don’t want to speculate or rush into things, we have a leadership which is tried and tested, I think they are going to formulate strategies that will cater for your question. But the bottom line is, we have a youth policy which is very vibrant, which needs correct people to be put in place.
It is a legacy that we are talking about, a legacy that did not come accidentally. It is a legacy that has people who created it, people who are walking in it, people who can hand it over. If that is co-ordinated properly, you know Zanu-PF is a rich party, I don’t believe there is a party that can stand up to Zanu-PF, Zanu-PF is the foundation of the State of Zimbabwe, but the problem is someone is taken because they have 15 degrees, and they are thrust into a position where they don’t know where the party is coming from or going to.
There are those youngsters who said
they wanted to re-brand Zanu-PF, because they were still in school when we fought the war, they think the war phase is not part of the richness of Zanu-PF, yes we cannot live in the past, but that past is our foundation, we cannot leave it to anyone, we must carry it with us.
Of course, galvanising as we carry forward. The systems of Zanu-PF need to be placed in the hands of people who know what they are doing, but we have the problem of a people who want to own every aspect of history.
My belief is that, if the systems of Zanu-PF are put in the hands the right people, without favour or fear, problem is there are some people who rush, when noticing that the pot is about to be ready for serving, claiming to have looked for the firewood, someone saying I am the one who cooked.
We have the problem of people who want to own every part of our history, wanting to claim all the glory.
Coming back to the youth, there are many things we are doing. I know there is Twitter, there is Facebook. Let me give you a practical example, if I meet someone on the road and introduce myself, and then go on to interact, I am closer to this person than someone who talks to him on the phone or over Twitter. Political mobilisation is about face-to-face, not Twitter.
Zanu-PF is not an old party, it is not a party for old people. It is a re-invigorating party, that is why it dumped Mugabe and put in ED and when ED announces his Cabinet, he is going to dump a lot of old timers, that is part of the renewal process.
Q: You have touched on the aspect of Cabinet, are we likely to see Matemadanda as a member of that new Cabinet?
A: I don’t know, that is the prerogative of the President to appoint. If l am deployed anywhere, I will take it up. I am a soldier, my Commander, who is the President, knows where to deploy me. If he says remain in Parliament, he knows I am effective Parliament and they will see it in Parliament.
Us, as war veterans, we have what we think. There are those official languages, your Shona, Ndebele and so forth but there is another language called “chiwar vet”, which we usually use where other official languages would have failed. The “chiwar vet” language does not fail. If the President says I should serve full-time in Parliament, he will be wanting me to panel-beat some issues in Parliament.
Wherever he will deploy me, I can assure you I will work 200 percent. There is nothing that will give me greater satisfaction than seeing what we fought for, what we sacrificed for, we have our friends and comrades who perished whilst we were making slogans. And these were not just slogans but these were slogans to ensure that Zimbabweans have attained what they deserve. We have had 37 years that did not produce what we wanted and we are hoping that in the five years that have been given President Mnangagwa, when we look back, we will see what would have been done.
All these people who are wasting their time running to court, they will actually see that they were wasting time, they were wasting Zimbabweans’ time. Whatever team (President) Mnangagwa is going to assemble, it will be an effective one. We have agreed, all of us, that we are not going to tolerate corruption at whatever level, that is the cancer that had gotten into our economy.
Corruption had become institutionalised, where it was seen as no offence to be corrupt. There is the common language that it grazes where it is tied up, this time it is not going to graze there, it should graze where it is supposed to graze. There was a culture when the President would assign someone to take things to the people and the person who had been assigned instantly turned into the “people”, that was then.
And we are not going to watch because it has happened in Gutu, Mutoko, Gokwe or wherever. Where there are reports of corruption, we are going to deal with the culprit. Some are going to say, but there are those already in Government who are corrupt, we will deal with them. What we need is the evidence that they have been corrupt.
Q: And there is a school of thought that you should have been the national political commissar?
A: I don’t know, I was never told that. What I know is that, as war veterans, we said the position of political commissar should be held by a war veteran. I was appointed to that position but the President decided to deploy me elsewhere and I think that was done through and by his wisdom. Retired Lieutenant-General Rugeje is a war veteran and personally I have not seen a single thing that he has done wrong so if there are those who say, if Matemadanda was PC, I say Rugeje should be PC.