Home » Governance » Party Emerges United – Zanu-PF UK [interview]

TZ: You are the chair of the UK branch and Zanu-PF’s biggest external structure and it looks like you are doing a lot of work considering membership card sales in comparison with South Africa. What’s your modus operandi and philosophy?

NM: We built a network of media partners, the media who help publicise our activities. We have a robust media department which meets regularly to discuss our media strategy. Part of our thrust is to be the mouthpiece of the party in Europe expositing the party position on a sundry of issues. Whenever there is a major issue of public interest we will get a briefing and a narrative from the mother party and in some cases from Government departments. Most ministers if not all realise how much we have managed to counter the negative publicity against our country therefore happily brief us so that we can articulate that position in the media. This has made a lot of people want to be associated with our brand. One has to take note that whilst we will defend ourselves with vigour we don’t want to win arguments through aggression. We prefer communicating and bringing intellectual clarity on issues. We are progressive so we don’t tolerate insulting our interlocutors. We also don’t rise to every act of provocation. This has made even our detractors respect our brand. Neutrals and the apolitical have therefore bought into what we are trying to achieve. We are not only working for the party. Though our fellow diasporans might not appreciate this but we have done a lot to confound the myth that the diaspora is comprised of sell-outs and non-patriots. Our presence and breakthroughs has made both the party and government appreciate that leaving outside Zimbabwe does not make one any less patriotic than those that remained at home. If you listened to the President’s opening speech, you had him saluting the delegates from the diaspora. That is a first . . .

TZ: Can you give a political profile for Zimbabweans in the UK? How interested are they in politics at home and what is their attitudes in general?

NM: In my opinion a lot of the people In the UK are passionate about Zimbabwe. They are irked by anything that they perceive as unfair. The UK used to be a (opposition leader Morgan) Tsvangirai territory but due to our own political throughput and his own damaged brand as well as the hopelessness of the MDC-T after their massive July 31 loss, and other factors we are the domineering party by a very wide margin. In fact it will be fair to say we are turning it into a one party state in the context of Zimbabwean politics. Zimbabweans in the diaspora are generally very much engaged with the politics at home. They just want what’s best for their country. I don’t think they take politics like religion. I believe they will affiliate to anyone who does well by our country. Anyone who delivers a good outcome for our country is their choice. In the current case if we can make Zim-Asset deliver as a party then we will win even those opposed to us. Being away from home has not made Zimbabweans in the UK detach from the politics at home. Rather they did the opposite.

TZ: What is your relationship with the UK government? One would imagine there can never be an appreciation of Zanu-PF structures in the country?

NM: One of the first things we did before starting our activities in the UK was to seek permission from our hosting authorities to operate. Their response was going to be indicative of their subsisting or altering policy towards Zimbabwe and our party. We chose to apply for that permission when the Conservative government came to power. We therefore have established a very cordial, candid and honesty relationship based on mutual respect. We meet with them, we write them on any attitudes or policies we feel affect our country. This is the reason we just ignore at those few individuals who have been trying to get us deported. We have been engaging on sanctions (that the EU imposed on Zimbabwe at the behest of Britain) and it has been productive. We also have a good relationship with the BBC where now they have to get our voice before broadcasting anything. This helps us try put our own side (government and party) across. The BBC is part of the British establishment and of course some of the editing done to our programmes has an unfavourable slant but at least we get heard.

TZ: You earlier alluded to a Rhodesian clique or lobby that is also active in the UK. How g is it and what do they seek to achieve?

NM: This is a very very g lobby with a lot of resources. Their antipathy and bitterness toward the President coupled with their nostalgia makes them an obstinate lot. That is the major group that cannot brook our presence in the UK. They use surrogates organisations like Zim Vigil to harass us and every Zimbabwean government official who comes to the UK. They are the ones that declared war on us. But having said that we are not fazed. Politics is never for the faint hearted.

TZ: A lot has happened back home in the party in terms of factionalism and revelations of plots to kill President Mugabe how have you related to these things?

NM: We were appalled to learn of the machinations. Our position in the UK has always been that, we have a President that was given a resounding five-year term by the masses of Zimbabwe. He should be left alone to fulfil that mandate. We were also shocked when one of our leaders said that it will take 40 years to realise the positive transformation in Zim-Asset. We asked each other how someone so high ranking could help deliver a programme they had such little faith in. However, we said to the cadres that when parents are quarrelling, children should stay out of it. And so we did. We also said our eye and pathfinder would remain the President. That position has been vindicated. Zanu-PF will always be where the President is. Not anywhere else.

TZ: And one would also think that you would be divided on factional lines. What is the situation and what are you doing about it?

NM: As I said before, one cannot be in Zanu-PF and be against President Mugabe. So for us it was simple. Those opposed to President Mugabe could find another political home. Not Zanu-PF-UK. Those following other leaders and fanning factionalism risked being expelled from Zanu- PF-UK. That position still obtains. We don’t and won’t tolerate anarchy.

TZ: You came for the congress what struck you the most?

NM: The candour with which everyone spoke for the President to the cadres in the plenary sessions. The atmosphere was also electrifying. There was a lot of energy and optimism.

TZ: And any lessons taken from the parent organisation?

NM: A lot. Too much for this interview, but the primary lesson was that “no one is bigger than the party” is not just a clicheacute. It is statement of fact. And of course that Zanu-PF is unscathed by the goings on that took place in the build up to the congress.

Source : The Herald