Lance Guma speaks to Dr Simba Makoni

dr_simba_makoni.jpgDr Simba Makoni
This week on Behind the Headlines Lance Guma speaks to former Finance Minister Dr Simba Makoni in a wide-ranging interview. Lance asks Dr Makoni for his views on the unity government currently being put in place and whether he thinks they can del

Lance: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of Behind the
Headlines. My guest this week is former finance minister and leader of
the Mavambo Movement Dr Simba Makoni. Dr Makoni thank you for joining
us on SW Radio Africa.

Makoni: It's a pleasure, thank you good afternoon.

Lance: Right, starting point is we've had a new unity government put in
place this week. Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in on Wednesday and as a
prominent leader yourself in Zimbabwe, the starting question has to be
what is your view of this recently installed government.

Makoni: Well first we must place the facts on record and say the
government is not yet fully installed as you know cabinet ministers
have not yet been appointed and taken oath, but yes the leadership of
the government in the sense of the Presidency and the Premiership is
now in place. We welcome it. We welcomed the Global Political
Agreement. It was and still is an imperfect agreement but it's the best
on offer for the people of Zimbabwe at the moment and we wish that they
will work well together to serve the people of Zimbabwe.

Lance: Now those who have been very skeptical of this arrangement have
pointed to the lack of sincerity which they seem to be picking up from
Zanu PF. Do you see this as a major stumbling block? Are Zanu PF
sincere in this arrangement?

Makoni: Well I think it is quite clear that all the partners in this
arrangement are there for convenience. There is no commitment, there is
mistrust, there is suspicion and so people are justified to be
skeptical because the motivation is not commitment to service and
therefore we also have expressed our reservations about what motivated
the three of them to come together. But let's be generous, let's be
optimistic, let's be forward looking and wish that they will work well
together for the sake of the people and the country.

Lance: If it had been left up to you Dr Makoni, what would you have
proposed as a way forward in terms of? I mean you have just pointed out
that this agreement is imperfect. How would you have suggested a way
forward for the country?

Makoni: Well its not, how would I, you know that I was the first
proponent of a government of national unity at the time when I launched
my presidential campaign. I maintained that stance up to now. We would
have offered a leadership that was motivated to service and committed
to serving the people rather than to acquiring and spending power and
control. The major misgiving we have about the Global Political
Agreement is that it was motivated by power and control and that is why
people set out in a country in dire straits as ours to set up a huge
administration. Six people in the Presidency and the Premiership, 31
ministers, 11 Deputy Ministers. We cannot afford that. And so we would
have sought to set up a compact, technocratic, competent based national
authority that was committed to taking Zimbabwe out of the crisis it is
in.

Lance: Now do you think then given those hurdles that you are pointing out, can this government deliver?

Makoni: Well it can if they commit themselves. It's not impossible for
people of different political persuasions to work together to a common
purpose. A lot of Europe is run by coalition governments from extreme
right, extreme left centers. So it's not a new thing. But it depends on
commitment, honesty trustworthiness and those elements are not there in
the parties to this Global Agreement.

Lance: Last year in the presidential elections you came third and a lot
of people were rather surprised that you did not play a very prominent
role in the negotiations that followed those disputed elections. Are
you some how disappointed you were somehow excluded from this process?

Makoni: Well I have two feelings and views about that. Yes indeed I was
disappointed, not just for myself, but more for the people who are
committed to the vision and mission that I set out to promote because
we are confident that we would have made a meaningful contribution to
those negotiations. We would have influenced the negotiations away from
power control and command to service. So from that point of view, we
are disappointed. That I am not there personally, I am not
disappointed, because participating in this process that has led to
this imperfect outcome would have discredited and compromised some of
our principles and values.

Lance: Now Dr Makoni, do you see a role for yourself under the current
set up, I mean have you been approached about doing anything?

Makoni: No, I haven't been approached by anyone. I don't see a role for
myself in the so-called inclusive government. But I do see a role for
myself and for colleagues in our movement and the population of
Zimbabwe that subscribes to the values and principles that we stand
for, in that with the creation of MDC T-F, we now become the sole voice
of the people. We will be watching this so-called inclusive government
step by step. We will be monitoring their every action. And we will be
keeping them under close monitor to ensure that what the people yearn
for is voiced. And that voice now is ours.

Lance: Some analysts had actually pointed that same fact you are
talking about Dr Makoni that the MDC which was the only credible
opposition to date has now joined the government and that has now
created a vacuum were the likes of Mavambo and maybe the recently
re-launched ZAPU can take up space, so I mean this is a bonus for you.

Makoni: Well I wouldn't say it is a bonus, it is what we created. When
I moved in to join the presidential race, we offered the people of
Zimbabwe an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai. We offered the people
of Zimbabwe an alternative to Zanu PF and MDC. And we are continuing to
offer the people of Zimbabwe that alternative, so is not a bonus, it's
our creation.

Lance: Several weeks ago I interviewed former Home Affairs Minister
Dumiso Dabengwa and he said the decision and the project to support
your presidential candidacy was meant to stop an outright winner
developing between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Do you subscribe to this
summarization of the scenario that you basically acted as spoilers?

Makoni: Well I do not subscribe to it and I can tell you that is not
what motivated me to stand. I don't know if Dumiso actually said that.
I stood genuinely and honestly to offer Zimbabweans an alternative
leadership. I wanted to win in order to serve the country, not to spoil
for anyone. I was convinced so were many Zimbabweans in Zanu PF, in MDC
and those outside politics that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai were the
best leader for Zimbabwe at this time and I believe the large majority
of Zimbabweans still believe that to date. And I set out to offer to
Zimbabweans an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai not to spoil for
anyone.

Lance: Going to another issue Dr Makoni, much closer to your own
movement. I believe last Wednesday several members of the National
Coordinating Committee of the Mavambo Movement led by retired Major
Kudzai Mbudzi, convened a press conference at which they announced the
decision that they had deposed you as leader of Mavambo and several
accusations were made. What is the current position regarding the
leadership of the Mavambo Movement?

Makoni: Well I can tell you that I am talking to you from my office at
our movement offices. I am functioning normally, so are all the other
colleagues who are involved with us in leading the movement towards a
political party. We've heard of this political development but it has
not affected our operation. The people you mention are disaffected by
the fact that they failed to achieve material gains they set out to
achieve in rallying behind me. Let me say that when I announced my
candidacy, all kinds of characters joined the movement with all kinds
of agenda's, objectives and ambitions. Many of them have fallen by the
way side because they have realized that we are not mercenaries, we are
not wicked, we are not crooked, we are not criminals, we are not
greedy, we are not dishonest, and because they cant fit into an honest
set up of integrity and service they have decided to take their way and
we say goodbye.

Lance: Its interesting Major Kudzai Mbudzi pointed to one issue which a
lot of people have raised in various forums. He alleges that you still
have strong links with Zanu PF and that you still have clandestine
meetings with several senior Zanu PF officials. I don't know if we can
maybe talk about this. Is that a correct representation of the
situation?

Makoni: No it is not. Remember that one of my key platforms in the
election campaign was I was a unifier. I don't want to divide the
people of Zimbabwe. I can confirm to you that I continue to relate to
people who are members of the MDC and some are members of Zanu PF, some
are members of other political parties some are not in any political
party. I meet with all those Zimbabweans as Zimbabweans not
clandestinely but quite openly in broad daylight. It is curious that
Mbudzi decides to point to my relations with Zanu PF members and not
with MDC members, with members of the labour movement, with the
Christian leadership. I relate normally with all Zimbabweans because I
quest for unity and commitment to service. I am not a factionalist.

Lance: Let me also touch on another issue. Mbudzi also claimed that you
promoted the system of patronage and division and ethnicity and he says
out of a total 10 members of the management committee 7 could be traced
to your tribal roots and village of origin. Would you maybe want to
address those claims?

Makoni: I think that kind of trash is belonging to Mbudzi, I do not
discuss those terms, I relate to Zimbabweans of all walks of life. I
relate to Zimbabweans from all stations of society, from all regions of
the country. I am a national leader; I am not a village leader.

Lance: And maybe before I move on to another subject, one more claim
that Mbudzi made were he is saying you withheld donations that were
made to the movement and the figures quoted there are from US1,5
million to about US$3 million. The financial issues, how was that laid
out in terms of the movement, were these donations that were made
towards your presidential bid or to the movement?

Makoni: All I can say is that those who are in the movement, know how
we are operating, are not raising those questions and I won't dignify
Mbudzi by answering that kind of question. The movement is functioning
normally, openly, transparently and genuine and committed activists of
the movement are not asking Mbudzi's questions. Mbudzi was with us
until September, left us of his own volition and therefore it's no
longer of his interest since September when he bade us farewell, to be
raising those issues. But movement activists are working normally to
create the party that will work for the people of Zimbabwe.

Lance: Dr Makoni when I interviewed Dumiso Dabengwa I asked him why he
had in a sense left the Mavambo Movement to reform PF ZAPU and asked
whether you two had fallen out. He sort of refused to answer the
question. I don't know if I can pose the same question to you and say
how are relations between yourself and Mr. Dabengwa and did the two of
you fall out that caused him maybe to leave the movement?

Makoni: Well our relations are normal. The last time I had a discussion
with Dumiso it was cordial, it was normal, it was rational. I have
followed developments involving him in the media and in public
discourse. I haven't had the opportunity to discuss with him how he
went that direction. But again that is the essence of democracy. People
choose associations of their own free will and Dumiso is at liberty to
do that, I don't begrudge him and I wish him well.

Lance: My final question to you Dr Makoni, you are obviously former
finance minister, Morgan Tsvangirai in his inauguration speech spoke
about paying all civil servants in foreign currency. We've also seen
the appointment of Tendai Biti as the country's new finance minister,
what do you make of those developments? Firstly do you think its
practical to pay all civil servants in foreign currency and what do you
make of Biti's appointment as finance minister?

Makoni: Well I would like to say that it is not appropriate to assess
an individual, I would like to see the whole government team in place.
So I am waiting with bated breadth for the appointment and installation
of ministers tomorrow (Friday). When we see that total line up behind 3
Presidents and 3 Prime Ministers, which is such a cumbersome and clumsy
arrangement for a country like ours in its current state we will then
be able to make a read of whether that set up can deliver or cannot
deliver and so I would seek patience on your part, lets have this
conversation tomorrow (Friday) or the day after tomorrow when the full
government team is in place and we can begin to read the potential of
its delivery or non-delivery.

Lance: And what about the issue of paying civil servants in foreign currency, what do you make of that?

Makoni: Well I actually haven't seen the actual statement to read what
the Prime Minister is said to have said. But what it begs at face value
is where will the money come from? Because Zimbabwe under current
circumstances I don't believe is in any position to pay all civil
servants in foreign currency unless they are being paid a pittance. So
it is a very curious question, but Morgan Tsvangirai is now the Prime
Minister, probably he has a little pot of gold somewhere that he will
reveal to the nation.

Lance: That was Dr Simba Makoni, former finance minister and leader of
the Mavambo Movement joining us on Behind the Headlines. Dr Makoni
thank you so much for sparing us your time.

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