Home » Governance » The Interview – ‘We Need Not Lose Sleep Over Fired Ministers’ [interview]

President Mugabe has fired VP Joice Mujuru and 16 ministers for reneging on their Government mandate and expending their energy and time on alleged graft and factional politics which sought to topple him through unconstitutional means, including assassination.

Star FM’s Acie Lumumba (AL) caught up with political and economic analyst Dr Davison Gomo (DG) on the firing and other issues concerning the shake-up in Government. Excerpts. . .

AL: Who is the biggest surprise from the ministers who have been fired?

DG: Lumumba, these ministers are the same. I would imagine that their value to the nation was more or less the same. But, quite frankly, there are times when you say of the people who have been befallen by a problem like this one. I must say I find it extremely strange that (Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment) Francis Nhema is out. By all accounts he always came forward as a very sober, disciplined, well calculating individual and one time when the President was moving him to the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment, he actually said he felt the guy was very intelligent and being introvert did not mean that he was not up to the game. That was not so long ago, but the guy is out. I would say, to me, Nhema is the most surprising individual.

AL: Is this a sign that Nhema was inefficient, was incapable of the task of being Minister of Youth, Indigenisation Empowerment or that he was just ineffective? Had he lost the plot of the new ministry or was better off in the former ministry?

DG: I think the ministry that he inherited has always been a poisoned chalice. When Nhema started we thought he was on top of the game but as he went forward he become immobilised in the process. His message was not very clear, not consistent and was not in sync with the public mood. He appeared to veering more towards watering down the position that had been established by former minister (Saviour) Kasukuwere and generally those of us from the empowerment movement were feeling that maybe Government was making a U-turn on this policy. This was largely because of the direction that he took. I don’t think he is seen as somebody who did something very outstanding in that ministry. The young people felt totally disconnected and not part of him.

AL: What do you think of the suggestion that we are now staring at a possible Zimbabwean version of South Africa’s COPE, the Terror Lekota-led splinter party from the ANC?

DG: I think those who may be tempted to form a political party are welcome to do so, but I can tell you that it would be absolutely political suicide to do that at this stage because at the moment Zanu-PF is at its best, very popular, very robust and very g. If you were at that congress you knew that there is going to be an uphill struggle for any political movement that is trying to unseat Zanu-PF.

I saw people who came very much voluntarily, people who believed in what they were doing, people who loved their party and people who were committed to making sure that the party was realigned to their objectives and that party was revitalised and once more was very g on the ground. So I would imagine that anyone who attempts to go in that direction is most welcome, it is their democratic right but it is going to be an antithesis.

AL: The fired ministers were just a year old (in Government). This is a team that a year ago the President trusted and only a year later he does not trust. How should the public be interpreting the change in trust?

DG: I don’t think it’s a question of President Mugabe trusting or not trusting individuals. You need to understand that we live in a very dynamic environment where things change and sometimes change is so rapid. I want to believe that most of these things have been precipitated by a sea of expectations from the people. For a long time I want to believe that the general membership of Zanu-PF has wanted to see the party and Government deliver in terms of their commitment to the people. The President must have been thinking, how do I get my party to move forward, how do I get a system or a leadership or a group people who can actually help us realise what we have been fighting for over the past 34 years? Maybe time did come when the President did say I must reorganise the system so that it’s fit for the purpose and obviously it’s capable of taking some of the dreams that the people have.

AL: From your interpretation of the events, what do you think will happen to the constituencies? What does it mean being fired from Government and not from the party?

DG: There are two things. If you listened to the President when he was addressing congress he did say those who were fired were not necessarily expelled from the party. I guess it’s up to the Central Committee guided by their constitution on a case by case basis. They might just have to review each case depending on the severity of the disquiet around each individual. Very individual decisions may be taken in terms of whether a recall is made or not. Generally speaking, I think the party is prepared for any eventuality whichever direction the decision goes.

AL: What are the pro and cons of retaining them as representative of the party in constituencies when they are no longer in Government?

DG: Remember that in respect of Marondera and Mashonaland East once people raised some concerns and uneasiness about what happened they appealed for intervention. I suspect the constituency by constituency approach if the generality of the membership of Zanu-PF in those constituencies decide that those who have been relieved of their responsibility at Government level and indeed top party leadership level no longer deserve to represent them, I guess the party and Government is going to listen to them very carefully and it’s likely to be a system that is pushed from the bottom rather than from the top.

AL: Do you think this is the end of the firing? Are we going to see more ministers getting the boot?

DG: Again if we go by the clue and cues that President gave at congress it does appear this is the beginning of a wide-ranging, soul-searching and introspection in the party. Remember he said that he is yearning a for a situation where the party can actually run deliverable programmes and, in fact, he wanted capabilities within the party and Government to make sure that happens. I suppose that as chief executive of both Government and the party if he felt they were square pegs in round holes the possibility is that those square pegs will have to be put aside for the round ones.

AL: In the event of these people being fired from both the Government and party, what are your views and what do you think should happen?

DG: Most of these people have been in public life for a very long time and I think it’s time they consider retiring, sit back and relax and do other things. The world is big, Zimbabwe is big, and there are so many other things they can do. They can’t define their life from beginning to end in political terms. This country offers a wide range of issues they could do. I think that will be good for them. Those who believe that they still have something to offer they just need to sit back, be patient and wait for the day when they will come back into the political high ground but trying to do anything right now will obviously be a mistake.

AL: Is there any possibility of by-elections and recalls coming soon? In the event of a by- election, are there any possibilities of strange bedfellows coming together to fight the ruling party?

DG: You can’t rule out the possibility of a by-election. When you look at the drama and the radical changes that have been made I don’t believe that a by-election is impossible. Remember Kwekwe Central were already talking of recalling their MP, it was in the Press – whether true or not I don’t know – and that is an indication of the things to come. The possibility of a by-election is very real.

Remember the constituencies are the key players here and if they are not happy with a Member of Parliament, I can almost tell you that going with what we have seen, the President and the party will listen to them. There is a possibility of strange bedfellows coming together to fight the ruling party, but I do not give them any snowball’s chance in hell to succeed because Zanu-PF is at its best now. I don’t see the party having any difficulties retaining most of the seats that may become vacant because of a recall.

Source : The Herald