Transcript of Tracy Mutinhiri on Question Time

Former ZANU PF Women’s League Political Commissar and Marondera East MP Tracy Mutinhiri is the guest on Question Time. Mutinhiri represented ZANU PF as Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare in the shaky coalition government and explains her decision to join the MDC-T after being expelled by her party. She also answers other questions sent in from SW Radio Africa listeners.

Tracy Mutinhiri
Tracy Mutinhiri

Interview broadcast 30 May 2012

Lance Guma: Good evening Zimbabwe and thank you for joining me on Question Time. Former ZANU PF Women’s League Political Commissar and Marondera East Member of Parliament Tracy Mutinhiri joined the MDC-T after being expelled last year.

Mutinhiri formerly the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare joins us tonight to talk about her political journey so far and answer questions sent in by SW Radio Africa listeners.

Thank you for joining us Mai Mutinhiri.

Tracy Mutinhiri: Okay, thank you.

Guma: Okay, let’s begin with your problems in Zanu PF – where did they emanate from and who was behind them?

Mutinhiri: Ah my problems from Zanu PF were precisely I think it was all to do with the inclusive government where I just exercised my professionalism and a lot of other guys in Zanu PF were not happy about how I was working with my Minister Paurine Mpariwa that’s precisely where the problems started because they preferred me to be fighting with Mpariwa from time to time, disrupting our government programme.

Guma: You had a lot of friction with the State Security Minister Sidney Sekeramayi and at times you cited him as the source of your problems. How did your relationship with him pan out?

Mutinhiri: Well you know surprisingly we come from the same district, Marondera district, Mahusekwa and once upon a time when I was with my husband, we considered them as family friends because he is a distant relation of my ex-husband, Ambrose.

But along the way he just developed a liking for me and I didn’t take it seriously but along the way when we came back from our diplomatic service, when my ex-husband was now campaigning for a by-election in Marondera, I suspect that’s where all the problems started because that’s when he began to make advances to me and I resisted. But along the way then my marriage was just broken.

Guma: You blame Sekeramayi for that?

Mutinhiri: Yes, he used his guy, unfortunately the guy is late now, a guy called Richard Bvukumbwe was his emissary who was used to break my marriage.

Guma: Now Zanu PF accused you of de-campaigning the party and building a relationship with the MDC-T. Would you say that allegation was true?

Mutinhiri: No that allegation was not true at all. All ministers they eat together, they drink tea and some of them visit each other and that’s exactly what I was doing – I was working well with Paurine Mpariwa and only one government programme that we made with my Minister and which was then later joined by the Prime Minister.

That’s where the whole problem came about because after doing our programmes, then the Prime Minister invited us to his village because it was just close by and then a photo of me and my Minister was taken and it was flighted in the Prime Minister’s newsletter and that’s when hell broke loose and they drew all their own conclusions which were basically untrue, totally untrue.

Guma: Oliver Chinhamo sent us a question via Facebook and he wants to know your honest opinion on Zanu PF. He says please ask Mai Mutinhiri how do you view Zanu PF?

Mutinhiri: Ha… Zanu PF, once upon a time in as far as I’m concerned was a very good party, everybody even those who have moved over to the various parties, once upon a time they all belonged to Zanu PF but because of the in-fights inside Zanu PF some people could not stand it and they moved on.

I’m not the first one who left Zanu PF; well I left by expulsion, but other people have left on their own, other people have been expelled, or other people they are just frustrated and along the way they find themselves joining other parties.

So it was a good party but somewhere along the way when you are beginning to show your skills, when you are beginning to show what you can do, then people resist you. That is the weakness that I saw in Zanu PF; they don’t like professionals, they don’t like people who know what the, who are capable of bringing results. Somewhere along the way it tends to threaten people’s positions.

Guma: On Facebook Zwelithini Viki sends his question and says did you join the MDC just to get back at Zanu PF or you have always wanted to join the party? What is it?

Mutinhiri: Well I did not join MDC just to get back at Zanu PF, that is not how I operate. MDC was formed in 1998, at that time I was out on a diplomatic mission in Yugoslavia and that’s when it was started and we only came back August 2000 and along the way I was working for Zanu PF but as we got into the inclusive government that’s the time when I began to see them in another light.

Because there were a lot of propaganda about MDC and I was part of that bandwagon of that propaganda because the party had been started whilst I was abroad. But when I joined the inclusive government and seeing how they were working out, they were functioning, how they would want to reach out to people and to bring bread and butter on people’s tables, I said oh after all this party is not as bad as it was being portrayed and some of their core values I respect them.

Guma: We’ve got a question from Godwin Mutematsaka and his question mirrors that of many others. Godwin sent an email – he says to Tracey we welcome and applaud you for the brave gesture you have shown us and also for at least seeing the light.

It is human nature to treat you with caution because you might be a Zanu PF functionary sent to destroy the MDC-T from within. His question is: why should we trust you and how do you plan to add value to the MDC-T?

Mutinhiri: Yah it is unfortunate, it is a problem that will always be hanging over people who move from one party to the other. In the beginning certainly there will be suspicion but if people were going to value me and follow how I was treated by Zanu PF, how can I come and destroy the party that is going to bring joy and happiness to people when I was expelled?

I was so embarrassed; Zanu PF embarrassed and humiliated me to the core and for me then to move from Zanu PF to disturb MDC programmes as a functionary, no I would not do that. If maybe I had just joined from nowhere, maybe then people would be suspicious but people know how I was humiliated and I’m lucky to be alive.

I would be history now because all the things that I was telling people that I am being followed, people they want to harm me, all those things were very factual and very true so how can I work for the party that wanted to injure me or to destroy my life?

Guma: Talking about that – those threats to you – you have in the past accused Zanu PF of trying to kill you in the same manner you say Zanu PF killed MDC-T supporters.

You specifically pointed to the Central Intelligence Organisation headed by Sekeramayi and said the CIO wanted to kill you and dump your body in the Wenimbe Dam like they did to hundreds of innocent suspected MDC supporters in June 2008. How much of that did you know – the dumping of bodies in the Wenimbe Dam?

Mutinhiri: Well the dumping of bodies in the Wenimbe Dam is general talk in Marondera town. It doesn’t come from me alone; if survey was going to be carried in Marondera town, every other homestead will tell you about their loved one who was dumped in the Wenimbe Dam.

It’s not a created story, I talked about it when then it was real to me, that on a certain day when I had gone to my constituents if I’d used the same road that I’d used coming to my constituents, I would have ended up in the dam.

Guma: How many other people in Zanu PF are aware of these sort of stories and these sort of things happening because it must have been something that a lot of people in Zanu PF knew – the violence in June 2008?

Mutinhiri: Well they will know about it but they will not talk about it because they are afraid because once one person talks about it, they know that they are next target, they will be followed, be trailed so people just keep their mouth shut because they are afraid.

Guma: Before you were expelled by Zanu PF, you were the MP for Marondera East; now that you have joined the MDC under Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a lot of listeners are asking will you seek to be re-elected under an MDC ticket in the same constituency?

Mutinhiri: I think if the Marondera, its constituents, if the people in Marondera approach me to represent them once more, why not? I will certainly represent them because I had no problems with the constituents, the electorate, I worked so well with them and at the moment they have no MP and they are so downhearted, they are so angry, nothing is moving for them because they don’t have a representative in parliament at the moment.

Guma: Your farm in Marondera was invaded by war vets and Zanu PF youths allegedly sponsored by the State Security Minister Sidney Sekeramayi; what’s the status of that farm – are you still there or have they moved you out?

Mutinhiri: No I’m still there; maybe I should just consider myself lucky because then the police came to protect me. I want to applaud the police for having protected me at that juncture. The police did not allow the militias to come into my farm and that was one incident that has not re-occurred. I’m carrying on with my farming activities at the farm and so far I haven’t experienced any disturbances.

Guma: You of course will be aware that you and your former husband Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri have in the past been criticised for the manner in which you got the farm in Marondera. Having joined the MDC-T do you think that puts you in a very difficult situation to explain how you got the farm? What’s your reaction?

Mutinhiri: No, it won’t put me in a difficult situation because all we did was, we were given that farm after it had been acquired by government, by the state and when it was acquired by the state we were given an offer letter and we took it, our offer letter we saw Douglas, Guy’s son and we showed him the offer letter and we said that we have been offered this piece of land, can we sit down and negotiate how best we can exchange hands.

That’s how it happened but certainly the Cartwrights resisted like any other person who was resisting and then in the end we then sat down with Guy Cartwright who was then the owner of the farm not Douglas, we sat down, we discussed about the issues, we agreed, we even bought some of his implements.

Guma: The version of events obviously is that a mob led by your husband is the one that seized the property.

Mutinhiri: Well people might talk in that manner but what exactly happened is we had an offer letter and we went and discussed it with the Cartwrights but like any revolution it is resisted and when it was resisted and knowing my ex-husband’s background, he is a soldier and he had to do it the, I don’t know maybe the military way, I don’t know whether it was right or if it was not right but he had to do it through the military but the lucky part is that no life was destroyed.

Guma: You are of course the former wife to the retired army Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri, many people believe if you were still married to him, no-one would have harassed you like they did. Do you agree with that?

Mutinhiri: I want to believe, yah no-one was going to harass me because we still being a family as husband and wife and I would still be maybe doing my politics supporting Ambrose but the moment I came out to do things on my own, certainly then I got attacked but if we were still a couple I don’t think anyone would have attacked me. I would be doing my politics and my ex-husband would be doing his politics but at this juncture I didn’t get any protection.

Guma: But as things stand, did he not offer you any sympathy whatsoever like when the farm was invaded by war vets and others?

Mutinhiri: Ah you know sometimes it is not nice to wash someone’s dirty linen in public but because this my breakage of marriage was instigated by some people, from time to time when people want to attack me or abuse me, they use my ex-husband so that it carries some legitimacy.

I’ll not talk about him having been involved in wanting to be invaded from my farm but he was part of the group. They agreed together with Sekeramayi that day that I should be removed from my farm but he was being used but later on I understand that he later on went to people and said ah you know I shouldn’t have done this.

People are using me to fight my wife, I have children with this woman, and I shouldn’t be doing it because these people who are causing this problem they also have extra-marital relationships and they are not fighting their, what’s the word, mistresses or their wife, their children.

So he saw some light later on that what he was being used to do against me was wrong and it was also affecting my children. It was beginning to affect my children.

Guma: Before you were expelled from Zanu PF, rather there is a theory that your problems actually started when you and fellow Zanu PF MP for Goromonzi West Beatrice Nyamupinga were accused of betraying the party and supporting the MDC-T candidate for Speaker of Parliament, that is Lovemore Moyo. Is that what happened?

Mutinhiri: It is so unfortunate that people continue to talk about it in that light. If also Beatrice Nyamupinga was part of this thing, this unfortunate thing that is being rubbished, why was she not expelled from the party?

That’s the first question people should be asking. If it was based on myself at that time when I was expelled from the party, why was Beatrice left alone and I danced to the music. Who can prove when you have done a secret ballot, who can prove, where is the evidence that I voted for Lovemore instead of Simon Khaya Moyo?

Guma: My sources tell me throughout this whole ordeal that you had that President Mugabe actually expressed a certain fondness for you and that you were one of his favourite people in cabinet. Were you surprised he didn’t offer you as much support as you would have liked?

Mutinhiri: Yah to be honest I took him as a father, I saw him as a father to me but I surprised there was no, there wasn’t much that he could do to protect me. I was really surprised but anyway maybe along the way he might have seen that I faltered in some way but I didn’t.

I’m just an innocent person who was a victim of circumstances so I’m really surprised up to now because my relationship with the first family dates back to Sally Mugabe. I was a daughter of Sally Mugabe.

Guma: Given what you know from within Zanu PF, how many other people in Zanu PF want to join the MDC-T but cannot do so? Do you know any others?

Mutinhiri: (laughs) I don’t know but yah, I know people would want to switch over but people are afraid. You know people are afraid, Zanu PF we know sometimes it will not really forgive somebody who makes a drastic step that I did but I have to do it because I didn’t want my political career finishing, to end with Zanu PF. So I don’t know much but I’m sure there are a lot of people who’d want to join Zanu PF.

Guma: My final question Mai Mutinhiri – so far how has the reaction of MDC-T supporters been to your joining the party? If you were to assess so far, how have you been received? Are you getting negative comments? What are people saying to you?

Mutinhiri: No I’ve been received very warmly. They are all excited that I’ve joined them because they’ve followed my politics ever since I came back from Yugoslavia in 2000 because MDC was formed in 1998 and ever since I came back in 2000 I became active in politics supporting my ex-husband and my politics from that time up to now, I’ve done clean politics. I’ve done clean politics and people who have been following me, that’s why they are so excited and so happy that I’ve joined them.

Guma: Well Zimbabwe that’s the former ZANU PF Women’s League Political Commissar and Marondera East Member of Parliament Tracy Mutinhiri who joined the MDC-T after being expelled last year.

Mutinhiri is also the former Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and joined us tonight to talk about her political journey so far and answer questions sent by you – the SW Radio Africa listeners.

From me Lance Guma, I’d like to thank you Mai Mutinhiri for spending time talking to us, thank you very much.

Mutinhiri: Thank you so much, nice talking to you and hope to talk to you again in the future.

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