The Sunday Mail
United Democratic Front (UDF)’s presidential candidate for the July 30 elections, Mr Mapfumo Peter Gava, believes that the new political administration has changed the face of democracy in Zimbabwe by opening up political space, which has allowed 23 candidates to contest for the highest office in the land.
The 56-year-old Binga-based politician told The Sunday Mail last week that if elected into office in eight days’ time, his plan is to constitute a Government of National Unity (GNU) designed to insulate the peaceful environment obtaining in the country.
“Zimbabwe has been subjected to repression and anarchy pre and post-independence. This is portrayed by the number of political parties that have emerged with the coming in of the new political dispensation in November last year,” said Mr Gava.
“The new atmosphere raised confidence levels of many who either feared for their lives, or had given up hope of ever getting the chance to freely compete for the office of President.
“Should I win the election, I will constitute a Government of National Unity that will bring all Zimbabweans together and support the peaceful environment in the country. It is high time we all chose new faces. Our country needs a complete turnaround,” said Mr Gava.
His motivation, he says, is to stand for the voiceless and disadvantaged communities, regardless of the election outcome.
“I am from the masses and live out there in the heart of Binga District and have known and endured what suffering is together with my community. Win or lose, I stand for those forgotten and the voiceless, those who never think or imagine a President can ever come from such ridiculed communities.
“I wish to encourage them that as Zimbabweans, they also have a mandate to lead and develop together with everyone else in the nation without fear or prejudice,” he said.
He says UDF will promote regional integration while ensuring national unity, which will give Zimbabweans equal opportunity for economic participation. Devolution, he adds, does not mean secession, but it redefines provinces as the nucleus for economic growth. Working on the premise that cash shortages were created by corruption, UDF plans to decentralise the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
Mr Gava says: “Cash shortages were created by lack of accountability and corruption within the central bank and Government ranks. To resolve the cash crisis and graft, UDF government will decentralise the RBZ.
“Pooling all our eggs centrally has proved a risk, where much of our money ends up out of the system or stashed in private storerooms of individuals.
“Decentralising (the bank) will create a competitive environment within the provinces and will also create effective auditing systems from central Government,” he said.
“Good industrial performance for export will ensure good foreign earnings, resulting in more import of goods and a well flourishing local market, all which will keep our currency acceptably strong, but with affordable goods.”
According to Mr Gava, although the July 30 elections will be relatively free and fair, more still needs to be done.
“Free and fair elections, to a greater extent, yes, but with a lot of questions. The preparation for elections is not free and fair. The stage is not even for new political parties and the two big ones — Zanu-PF and MDC-Alliance — are sponsored from State coffers and we are not.
So regardless of how much effort is made to make the elections fair, the small parties will be saying no.
“In terms of freedom of participation without coercion, yes. So far, personally, I have not been distracted in any of my activities, nor that of my party,” he said.
He added that UDF did not join other political coalition partners because of confusion within the ranks of other opposition parties, including differences in ideologies.
The decision to sell the fledging UDF political party also motivated the decision to go it alone.
“Viewing from far, we could see and sense a lot of confusion among the big parties and a lot of power struggles. Win or lose, we as UDF then decided to go it solo. When one sells a brand, they want to grow and promote it not for today and yesterday, but for the future. We are happy to test our prowess as a young political party.
Added Mr Gava: “There were initially 133 prospective political parties and we are proud to be among the 23 that made it at Nomination Court. We are not sponsored by anyone nor are we someone’s project. We are in competition because we have a different approach and ideology to move Zimbabwe forward.”
UDF, which was born three years ago in the United Kingdom, managed to register only four aspiring parliamentarians and one councillor.