Home » Governance » It’s Time I Uplift My People, Society, Says Mukupe [interview]

Until last week when zanu-pf decided to step into the squabble in Harare East constituency where Cdes Terrence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo were contesting for the June 10 by-election seat on the same party ticket, chaos reigned supreme with possibly nasty outcomes. Our Political Editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) yesterday spoke with Cde Mukupe (TM), whom the party resolved should stand,

First of all may you tell us about yourself, who is Terrence Mukupe?

I would like to say first and foremost I am a born-again Christian. I grew up in Mufakose. I did my high school in Gweru at Chaplain High School. I did my first degree at the National University of Science and Technology and then my second degree at New York University where I did my MBA. I have been a career banker my entire life. That is all I have ever known, banking is in my blood. Politically, I joined Zanu-PF in 1995 in Mufakose and I have been in the structures in Mufakose. I think the other thing that could be of importance is that having spent time in the US where I was a Wall Street banker, I came back to Zimbabwe. It had always been my wish that having experienced everything there was to banking in Zimbabwe I needed to broaden my horizons and my scope. So that US experience was important and having gained it I came back here. Ever since I came here though publicly everyone has known me as someone who ran two financial institutions in Zimbabwe, Renaissance Capital and as well as Allied Bank. I have a couple of financial transactions that have been celebrated in the country for instance the ESSAR ZiscoSteel resuscitation transaction. I introduced the community share ownership trust in Zimbabwe. That was a concept that no one knew about and I successfully implemented them with Mimosa and Zimplats and I think those are probably the only share ownership trusts that are working in Zimbabwe. Politically, what was not known about me is that though I was known as a banker at the same time I have been working in the Zanu-PF commissariat for business development, where I was working under Hon. Sithembiso Nyoni. Up to this day I am a member of the secretariat for business development and that’s the arm that is charged with raising funds for the party and making sure that we have lights in all the buildings, people are paid, vehicles are working and that sort of thing. We are the lifeline of the party in as far as the funding is concerned. So politically that is where I have been and basically using the skills that I have to make sure I make my contribution to the party. I am a family man, I

What made you venture into full time politics because as you were saying you are a career banker and why Harare East specifically?

I think in terms of my professional career I have achieved everything there is to achieve. I have been at the top in everything that I have done I have succeeded in everything that I have done. And so I felt having been blessed in the sense that I have seen the world, I have run some fantastic institutions, it was time that I traced my roots. And when you look at my roots like I said, I was born in the “location”. I grew up dirt-poor and I remember when I was growing up that sometimes we would even have sadza and sweet potatoes, sadza and sugar for our meals. I felt that it was time that I also uplifted people around me and uplifted my society. So that’s why I decided that I needed to go into mainstream politics and apply the skills and the networks that I have to make a change in my community.

But you have gone head-on into controversy. What is your assessment of the circumstances that led to the controversy in Harare East? From your take, what was this ruckus about?

I think it’s an issue of slight misunderstandings and the Press blew them out of proportion and tried to create a soap opera about it. But I think in as far as the party policies, procedures, constitution and the responsible parties, I think there was clarity where I stood within the party, where I stood with the electorate and where we were going. And I believe in the processes of the party, the truth was going to come out and I am happy that the truth came out.

But I was talking to the interim chairman of Harare Province and he was alluding to the fact that you were never really in the structures and did not have leadership experience in the party. How then now would you respond to that if you were to refer to your party structures, party policies and procedures?

I respect him as my chairman because if my memory serves me well I don’t think he was elected for that position. It is a position that he was co-opted into. He was co-opted because he didn’t have the necessary five years within the structures and his co-option was because he had served the party with distinction in other areas and because of the fact that he had served the party with distinction in other areas they gave him a waiver. So I think it is just unfortunate that I haven’t had the chance to sit with the chairman and re-educate him and show him that like I think some of the paperwork that they had where you have affidavits from people from the branches that I came from and the districts that I came from that show my legacy within the party. Moreover I am a director of several party entities. So that in itself warrants a waiver, a waiver that I think people like my very good friend Psychology Maziwisa has enjoyed, the Betty Kasekes have enjoyed, the Oliver Mandipakas have enjoyed. So I think it’s an issue of people having selective memory and choosing to remember certain facts and not know the right facts. I would want to believe my chairman has been misled.

TZ: But would you take it as a personal matter between you and the chairman and certain elements in Harare Province? Have you ever considered it that way?

TM: I don’t have any evidence that it is a personal matter, but I think it is just an issue of people who are not fully informed. I think if you look at all the matters and everything that has been said, none of the people that are standing on top of the mountain and shouting have actually given me the audience to say can you come and respond to these issues. We don’t run this party from what the newspapers are saying and everything. There are rules and regulations that govern how a party functions. I don’t even have a letter from Harare Province where they are saying can you highlight or can I elaborate on A,B,C,D . . . there is nothing of that sort. So that’s why I would want to probably assume that they were misinformed and they were not aware of the correct position and I think the correct position is there for everyone to see. I wouldn’t be a director of party companies I wouldn’t be working in the secretariat for business development without even the prior approval of His Excellency (President Mugabe) because it’s a key department, it’s a key area. So that’s why I would want to believe that my learned chairman who I respect a lot, he knows I have tried to have a sit down with him, he has never taken any of my calls. And I am still available, I am still available to work under his leadership and to basically bring out the truth and not resort to this issue of going to the papers and passing information which I would want to believe that he is grossly misinformed.

TZ: But of course this whole episode has highlighted another flashpoint of factionalism in Zanu-PF and one thing that came out in the papers recently was that you were saying you would only listen to what Cde Kasukuwere had said. Are you playing factional politics and are you a proteacuteeacute of Kasukuwere?

TM: That’s from the position of the Press right? And the job of the Press is to sensationalise issues and if you look at that headline it doesn’t even have quotations saying that I made that statement. It’s people who are selling papers. People belong to Zanu-PF. We are all there to make sure that we may enhance and promote the policies of our President. The Presidium which is made up of our President, Cdes Mphoko and Mnangagwa are the ones who give us direction and all we do is act like we are foot soldiers and as foot soldiers our job and our duty is to make sure that we are carrying that message that has been given to us and we carry it to the masses. So people should be able to discern that and be able to say when you’ve got certain portfolios in the party that have certain roles and someone is carrying out his role, don’t construe it to mean that if he has carried out his job then he is basically supporting a particular person or a particular individual. I think what was happening was that the commissariat — if people read our constitution — highlights on rules and regulations that govern elections within Zanu-PF and it is the commissariat that is charge of all the party organs and all the elections. So the office, not an individual, the office of the commissariat, has the responsibility of making sure the party organs and the party structures are functioning and that the rules and regulations that govern elections are properly adhered to. So when you’ve got the commissariat comes out and pronouncing the rules and regulations of the party, the people should not construe that to mean that I belong to Cde Kasukuwere. And that is why I am happy that that position has been exonerated the Politburo upheld the position of the commissariat.

TZ: And how did you feel when Cde Mnangagwa pronounced that position?

TM: Sad, I was actually sad that we had to stoop so low and having to take our elders away from their busy schedules. We’ve got bigger issues in Zimbabwe we’ve got issues of our economy, the issue of jobs, the issues of the social infrastructure which is not in the greatest of shape and we are taking them away from their busy schedules to have to deal with minute issues that are really clear. That is why in one of our slogans that those who don’t know should be taught. People should take time to read the party constitution. People should take time to read all the acts and the rules that govern our party so that they know what the party line is. During the liberation struggle people used to sing songs about “Nzira dzemasoja” pertaining to party discipline. So again it is the same thing, we have got people who are coming into our party and taking up leadership positions and I bet you they have never taken the time to read the party constitution. This is why we end up having such problems. I don’t think this was a matter that needed to go all the way to the Politburo. This was an issue that could have been dealt with even at the cell level if people had taken time to read the party constitution and the rules and regulations that govern our party.

TZ: Are you on talking terms with Mavis Gumbo and other people who were seemingly ranged against you?

TM: I don’t have followers. Mavis doesn’t have followers. We are both members of one great family, Zanu-PF.

TZ: But have you, or have you not talked to her?

TM: We are on good talking terms. If our President could have tea with Tsvangirai the sellout and be able to have discussions and take our country forward, why can I not have tea with Mavis Gumbo?

TZ: On the substantive issues, now. What are you telling the people of Harare East to vote for you?

TM: We are going back to the socialistic principles of our party. Our party was founded on socialistic principles. It was all about delivering to the people and making sure that there’s education, health and infrastructure to the people. And what we have had of late is that some of the social services that were the responsibility of the government going into private hands and now we were having individuals who were taking the aantage of the people like the land barons who came chanting slogans like us and say they are bringing housing to the people but actually fleecing the poor. We are saying no to that. We are say that all these activities should go back to the Government and Municipalities not individuals who now think that they can convert Zanu-PF to Money-PF and a system you find in some places in India where people are owned by land barons a situation where you say I have given you a stand or a house so you have to vote for me. We are saying no to that. The people belong to Zanu-PF. Our liberators did not fight to have the land in individual hands so that these people would become land barons and take money from the poor. In my constituency children are walking five kilometres to school or the next healthcare facility because the infrastructure was meant to cater for the upper echelons of society. And what’s happening to the people of Caledonia and Mabvuku? We now have the word “vendor” is now used as a derogatory term but we are saying they are entrepreneurs and we must uplift them. We should not let a situation where people who go around charging them for space for them to sell their wares and holding them at ransom. And those people are doing it in the name of Zanu-PF. We are not a party of thieves!

TZ: And how confident are you to bag this seat?

TM: I think for anyone who has attended our rallies and monitored the social media, the response has been overwhelming because we have stuck to one principle: we will tell people the truth. We will not promise what we can’t deliver and we are saying that the economic, jobs and empowerment revolution we have got we will deliver it to the people. And our message is resonating with the people. We are very confident and come June 10, we will have record numbers coming to vote for us.

TZ: But this election will be marked by the official boycott of the opposition, so it’s a stroll in the park for you, isn’t it?

TM: Never take people for granted. If we were taking things for granted I would have stayed at home and played soccer with my son, watched TV and enjoyed finer things of life. But you know what, I have rolled up my sleeves and with the people together we have gone out there and put bridges, repaired roads, we have put electricity, we are bringing food to the people we are making ablution facilities we are making sure that schools and health care facilities will be available. We are not sitting on our laurels. As a party we are not spurred on by the availability of MDC. We are here to serve to the people. And what I’m happy about is that most of the youths that had gravitated to the MDC are responding to our message. We have a message that cuts across society and that is real.

Source : The Herald