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Yesterday Zimbabweans commemorated the 34th anniversary of their Independence. Our Senior Political Writer Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) caught up with Senior Minister of State in the Office of the President Simon Khaya Moyo (SKM) to reflect on this momentous day and what the future holds for the nation.

TZ: Zimbabwe celebrates 34 years of Independence this year. What is the significance of this milestone?

SKM: They say life begins at 40 but certainly at 34 you are certainly a grown-up person and some at 34 have got families. Zimbabwe at 34 is celebrating its birth in 1980 after years of repression, suppression and oppression by the settler colonial masters. So we are saying at 34, congratulations Zimbabwe for many reasons. One being that a number of people died for this Independence, thousands perished as you know in various places, both outside Zimbabwe and inside. We also, of course, are aware that the struggle was led by two erstwhile liberation movements, then Zanu and Zapu, and their respective liberation armies, Zanla and Zipra, led by our two iconic leaders President Robert Mugabe and the late Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo. We are celebrating their leadership. We are also celebrating the victory by the people of this great land. We take this opportunity to reflect what has happened since that day, that great day, when we attained nationhood. We also have to offer special gratitude to those of our leaders and of our cadres who have since gone and we should, of course, in the process ensure that they didn’t die for nothing. In other words their deaths were not in vain. We are also cognisant of the fact that we must use this day to recall the support we received from our neighbours, Frontline States at that time, particularly those in our immediate surroundings, Mozambique, Zambia Botswana, Tanzania, Angola and many others in SADC now. At the same time we also recognise that this is an Easter weekend and we, as a Christian country, want to thank God for all he has done to see that we continue with our unity and jealously guarding of course our sovereignty.

TZ: What have been the challenges and threats to Zimbabwe’s Independence?

SKM: As you are aware, we didn’t just gain political Independence. We did, of course, struggle for it but our effort was economic Independence and the land was a major issue and this is what took us to war. After getting back our land, the former coloniser — Britain — was hurt and imposed sanctions and mobilised the European Union against Zimbabwe. These were very serious challenges which needed very astute leadership in the form of our President and we have managed to defeat them on that front. The West also created an animal called the MDC to dislodge us from power. So these are challenges we are facing. Earlier, of course, we had challenges among ourselves which we overcame through the Unity Accord but the biggest challenge remains in the former coloniser trying to come back through the door via the opposition MDC. It is a challenge in terms of our sovereignty, a challenge to our Independence. I think this is our greatest challenge but we will overcome. We suffered some setbacks in the 2008 elections but we moved on to strengthen the structures of our party to redress the mistakes of 2008. When we moved on to the harmonised elections of July 31, it was evident that our people realised they had made a mistake in 2008, which needed not to be repeated, and this is why ZANU-PF won so massively. The win was also because of what our manifesto stood for: it was a people’s manifesto, it is still a people’s manifesto and we have since converted the manifesto’s provisions into an economic blueprint, which you know very well as Zim-Asset.

TZ: We will come back to Zim-Asset, but I want your assessment of the political environment in the country and how that bodes for the country’s Independence and sovereignty.

SKM: We can never ignore the fact that in unity there is strength. We are aware that the so-called opposition parties tried whatever they were assigned to do they failed. They continued naturally using many other ways to discredit our unity, our sovereignty, our party, our Government as they have always done in their so-called independent papers. Those are not independent papers. Those are owned by people who represent the yesteryear colonisers and they will continue to do that. They will continue to peddle the lie that the elections were rigged but that is obviously madness in the sense that these elections were observed by a number of people from all over the world including SADC, the AU and the international community at large who approved the conduct of those elections. The onus is on the opposition to prove how these elections were rigged. It’s a very irresponsible way of conducting politics when you harp on things which you know are not true and mislead the nation. And I am saying that in spite of that, we have shown that we are a responsible party because all our principle, all our programmes are really people-centred and the people realise that. So I don’t think personally that one would want to say that the opposition has made any dent to our body politic. What is key is to show unity and deal with this animal called factionalism. We just have to make sure that wherever it exists it must be eliminated. Corruption. These are evils. We know that for instance as a party we have one President, one leadership elected at congress and there is no other leadership which can claim any role except that which was elected. We have one President, one leadership elected at the congress and there is no other leadership which can claim any role except that which was elected at congress and also elected at various structures of the part. So there is need for discipline in the party and we must stop this day dreaming by people who think that this country came on a silver platter. People died for this country, thousands died for this country and we can not allow a few people to continue misleading and disturbing the unity of our people. Corruption is an evil and whoever engages in corruption, action must be taken against them. People must be brought to book. We want a clean Government, we want a clean leadership and we cannot allow this glorious party, this Government from the people, to be disturbed by a few people who are obviously greedy. We must as a people exercise discipline, fight corruption, fight factionalism. We must never impose leaders, let people choose their leadership freely but of course we must be guided by our party’s constitution which is our bible.

TZ: This year’s Independence theme emphasises economic empowerment and socio-economic transformation. What can be done to ensure the success of economic empowerment and social transformation?

SKM: Policies are clear. Zim-Asset itself is a very clear economic blueprint but we need discipline, we must be focused and we must move away from the vices l referred to already. This is a very important economic blueprint which we must all own as a nation, we must all own it as a nation, as a party, as a Government, at every level of our human life because it addresses issues that are basically our daily aspirations. We are talking of issues of food security. It’s key to the survival of any nation and nutrition, very key. We are talking of social services and poverty eradication which are absolutely important. We have to ensure that more schools are built, hospitals are built and that various certain structures in the social welfare are taken care of in terms of. Poverty is an enemy of humanity it must be eradicated but you cannot do it when you are greedy, when you think of yourselves you must put people first and ensure that through these policies and actions, we are promoting the quality of their lives but let them be participate they must not be observers to their own lives. We are also talking of development of infrastructure and roads, electricity, transport. And finally we are talking of the issue of value edition to our natural resources. We must benefit from these resources so that we don’t keep on sending raw materials that come back as finished goods at our own very serious cost. So all these are issues which are in Zim-Asset, which is a product of our election manifesto. It’s a transformation, it’s a process. We have to move with it and by 2018 we will reflect what we have and what we have not achieved. The important thing to me is that those who have been elected by the people to be their representatives must keep in touch with the people, must stay with the people, listen to the people. Let’s not be dictating to them. This is why l have said and we have said it as a party, we expect Members of Parliament to be giving us performance reports. How are they performing in their constituencies, what are the challenges they are facing, what efforts have they made to overcome those challenges? From the people we came, to the people we must go.

TZ: How can young people keep in step with the letter and spirit of Independence?

SKM: Young people are the future of this this country and if we don’t prepare them for tomorrow then we are obviously heading for a crisis as a country. So we must engage these young people in various activities, various projects, various economic activities. They must be catered for through development of skills in all sectors of the economy.

TZ: How can the nation preserve its hard-won Independence?

SKM: Unity is the key. This is why our motto as a party is unity, peace and development because without unity there will be never be development and without development there will never be prosperity. The late Dr Nkomo died calling for unity, unity, unity. If people are not united we will not have liberated this country. The Unity Accord of 1987 is not just unity of two parties, but was the basis of the unity of our entire people. We must destroy this animal called regionalism and tribalism. We are one people, born of one mould, as it were, and we cannot say God made a mistake in creating us. He gave us that gift of being human and we are the most gifted creation and we are saying let’s thank God for that let’s not degenerate into idiots.

Source : The Herald