Hot Seat interview with Didymus Mutasa

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Didymus MutasaHOT SEAT: Violet Gonda presents the programme Hot Seat where her guests Didymus Mutasa (pictured), Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Gorden Moyo, Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office, give their parties positions on the political deadlock threatening to tear apart the fragile coalition.

Minister Mutasa says ZANU PF is not taking any notice of the MDC boycott, and says the MDC are behaving like little babies, and their boycott will not take them far or achieve anything. Minister Moyo argues that out of 34 important items that were agreed to in the GPA, only four have been fully completed, because of stalling by ZANU PF. He says the MDC will continue their boycott until there are fundamental reforms.

VIOLET GONDA: My guests on the programme Hot Seat are Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office. With the political deadlock threatening to tear apart the fragile coalition government I started by asking Minister Mutasa for ZANU PFs reaction to the MDC boycott.

DIDYMUS MUTASA: Well, that is what they have decided to do but I do not think that it will take them far because it is giving them a very bad name. Theres no reason why they should boycott, they should have sat down as they are hoping to do now, as principals, and talked. But to go on strike like little babies is not what the Global Political Agreement is all about. So I think its a very silly thing that they are doing, and I do not think that it will achieve them anything.

GONDA: Right, and you say they have gone on strike like little babies but the MDC have said that theres a stalemate on the issue of outstanding issues and that is why it is appealing to SADC to intervene. Can you give us your assessment of interrupted

MUTASA: Thats nonsense, thats nonsense. The outstanding issues are wide – for us the most important outstanding issue is the question of sanctions not the issue that Bennett has been arrested and is going through the courts of justice. Thats nonsense. Why arent they doing something? Why do they not boycott because the Americans and the European Union are refusing to lift sanctions, which are a more important issue for this country than the arrest and trial of Bennett.

GONDA: Ill ask you shortly about the issue of sanctions but what about the other outstanding issues that theyve talked about? For example the appointment of the Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono and the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana? What is Zanu-PFs position on this?

MUTASA: For goodness sake, for goodness sake, let me say I wonder why you are repeating that because that is nonsense! What has that to do with the Global Agreement? The fact that the President of this country has the right and power to do so and that he has done so its a finished accompli (sic). And so why are they raising it because they know that our President is not going to change his mind about that and theres nothing outstanding about it.

GONDA: But Minister Mutasa, Gono is widely accused by the MDC of being responsible for the trashing of the economy and the Attorney General is accused of abusing the legal system, so if your party is interested in moving the country interrupted

MUTASA: Are you, are you yourself a member of the MDC?

GONDA: No Im not but

MUTASA: and if you are

GONDA: Im a journalist

MUTASA: Then you should ask your questions a little better than that.

GONDA: How would you want me to ask them?

MUTASA: Becausesorry?

GONDA: How would you want me to ask you on the issue of Gideon Gono and Tomana, because interrupted

MUTASA: Because you are convinced, you seem to be convinced that Gideon Gono has done something wrong about the economy of this country and that is nonsense. There is nothing wrong that Gideon Gono interrupted

GONDA: I have said interrupted

MUTASA: Excuse me. Theres nothing wrong that Gideon Gono has done about the economy of this country. He is in fact a man who has done everything to sustain the economy of this country and I do not understand why you, who is where you are, are speaking like that and in fact that is what our President has referred to as information imperialism. You are just repeating what other people have repeated in the past and that is absolute nonsense.

GONDA: With all due respect minister, Im asking these questions according to what the MDC is saying. For example the Finance Minister has said the Central Banks operations are illegal, so with that perception that Gono and someone like Tomanas actions have polluted the current environment, how do you think this has to be resolved?

MUTASA: Well my dear that is going to go on. Tomana is going to remain the Attorney General of this country and Gideon Gono is going to be the governor of our Reserve Bank and that is full stop.

GONDA: But interrupted

MUTASA: And the less you repeat it the better for everybody.

GONDA: Surely if there is a deadlock over just these two men, they are mere individuals interrupted

MUTASA: There is no deadlock my dear, there is no deadlock! Let me repeat that again. There is no deadlock because our President is not going to do anything about it!

GONDA: Well there is a deadlock because the MDC right now – the Prime Minister is touring the region interrupted

MUTASA: And then they can go on strike and be themselves like little babies and Zimbabwe is going to go on without them as it has gone on without them in the past.

GONDA: And you interrupted

MUTASA: Dont you think, and dont ever think or believe that this country is going to stop because of the reactions of the MDC. It is simply going to go on and none of us is going to take any notice of what they are doing because they are behaving like little babies.

GONDA: OK, hear me out on this one and tell me if it is only the MDC thats behaving like little babies as you have said. The MDC is complaining that Mr Mugabe is refusing to swear in Roy Bennett as their MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture and then on the other hand you have these individuals from your party, Gono and Tomana, so surely all these people are individuals, why not just let them go and all parties agree to appoint new people? Isnt this what a new beginning, a new Zimbabwe should be about?

MUTASA: A new Zimbabwe with who? A new Zimbabwe with criminals or people who are charged with criminal offences like Bennett, Roy Bennett? And you say that is the sort of new Zimbabwe that you are thinking of, or the MDC is thinking of, my dear its not the sort of Zimbabwe that we are looking for.

GONDA: But when you say Roy Bennett interrupted

MUTASA: We do not want a Zimbabwe that is governed by people who are charged of offences that the court is still in the process of assessing.

GONDA: You know I actually spoke to the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last week and he said it is very interesting that you are concentrating on Roy Bennetts case and that Robert Mugabe is refusing to swear him in because he is facing serious charges in the courts but Mr Mutambara went on to say there are people like himself, like Tendai Biti and even people like Patrick Chinamasa from your party who was actually convicted but still he was sworn into the new government. So why is Roy Bennett different when you have other people – even like the Deputy Prime Minister who is facing charges in the courts?

MUTASA: My dear I have never heard of those other charges that you are talking about. If that is what the Deputy Prime Minister told you then he probably knows where those charges were arising from, and which court decided on them. I dont know any of that. I dont know that Patrick Chinamasa is under any charge, I dont know even that the Deputy Prime Minister himself or Biti have any criminal offences that they are facing.

GONDA: What about you yourself, are you not facing charges of contempt of court? Didnt a Chinhoyi magistrate just recently interrupted

MUTASA: where, who told you that? That is absolute rubbish.

GONDA: Did you not

MUTASA: I have never

GONDA: Did you not call Magistrate Ngoni Nduna just a few days ago very stupid?

MUTASA: Where have you heard that? Where have you heard that from my dear? There is absolutely nothing like that. I have not appeared before any court for contempt of court. Contempt of which court?

GONDA: Were you not supposed to appear in a Chinhoyi court to testify in a case involving a Chinhoyi farmer Robert Mckersie and you were subpoenaed to give evidence interrupted

MUTASA: What was the offence? Excuse me to be subpoenaed is not facing a criminal charge

GONDA: I did not say you are facing a criminal charge but you were supposed to have testified in court and you failed to attend.

MUTASA: My dear you are actually talking about something that you dont understand and I would rather you please stop this interview because you dont really know what you are talking about.

GONDA: So can you tell us what it is about?

MUTASA: What it is about is simply a subpoena that I should appear and be a witness against myself and I have never heard of that process of law anywhere in the world.

GONDA: Why were you going to testify against yourself?

MUTASA: Excuse me. I dont know what it is all about except that some white man is being required to vacate the farm that he thinks is still his and I am being required to say why he should leave. He should leave because there is a land reform programme going on in this country and I have allocated that land to someone else in terms of the land reform programme and thats all. So theres really nothing, you know outside the law of this country and it is all the right thing to be done because of the land reform programme. It is all done legally and so there is absolutely nothing wrong that is happening here, but you are talking as if everything that has been done and I have as you say I have been before the courts, charged with contempt of court and all that which is all nonsense.

GONDA: No but theres a warrant of arrest for you Mr Mutasa.

MUTASA: Thats not true. You are telling lies interrupted

GONDA: According to the magistrate there is a warrant of arrest for you.

MUTASA: There is no, first of all there is no warrant of arrest for me. That is all nonsense and it is a lie. Please madam and I would like to stop this conversation because you dont know what you are talking about.

GONDA: But Mr Mutasa you can help us understand what is happening.

MUTASA: Please lets stop this interview interrupted

GONDA: What has been implemented out of the contested issues to do with governors,

GONDA: Hello?

MUTASA: hangs up phone.

GONDA: Hello? And that was Minister Didymus Mutasa ending this discussion in the usual format. Unfortunately after that I was unable to get him back so I spoke to his counterpart in the MDC, and that is Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office.

Mr Moyo, I have just spoken to Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of State in the Presidents office and he said the boycott by your party will not take you far and he said you are behaving like little babies. What is your reaction to this?

GORDEN MOYO: No Didymus Mutasa is as old as my grandfather therefore I am not going to respond to such kinds of words from him. My African tradition tells me that I should not engage in the altercations with my grandfather so Im not going to respond to his statement about little babies.

GONDA: But what about the other issue that he is adamant that the only important outstanding issue is the question of sanctions and not the issue of people who are facing criminal charges like Roy Bennett and that Robert Mugabe has the right and power to appoint Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana and he basically said Mugabe is not going to change his mind on this. So what are your thoughts on that?

MOYO: Its either Didymus Mutasa he has not read the Global Political Agreement or he is nave to be contempt of that document. The issues of Tomana and Gono are outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement. Mugabe appointed Gono and Tomana in breach of both the MOU that was signed on the 21st of July 2008 by the political parties and also in breach of the Global Political Agreement signed on the 15th of September 2008. Gono was appointed on the 26th of November 2008 after the signing of the Global Political Agreement and after the signing of the MOU – so which means it was in breach of both. Tomana was appointed on the 17th of December 2008 again after the signing of the Global Political Agreement and after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the political parties in the inclusive government. Now the Global Political Agreement and the MOU both state unequivocally that the President will only appoint senior government officials in consultation with the Prime Minister and that was not done. Therefore Mugabe breached, violated the GPA and violated the MOU so I dont know what Mutasa is talking about.

GONDA: And you have said you will only suspend the boycott after all the outstanding issues are resolved so can you briefly clarify these outstanding issues especially as Minister Mutasa says there is only one outstanding issue and that is the issue of the sanctions.

MOYO: You see Violet, the inclusive government has celebrated its seventh month, and we are now into month number eight. Now there are about 34 items, critical items of the Global Political Agreement. If you make a casual assessment of them, just a casual assessment, you would realise that out of the 34 key items of the Global Political Agreement, 17 have not been done completely, 13 have been partially done and only four have been done. Now seven months are long, it is a long time for the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and there are critical issues, critical challenges into the entire programme of implementing the GPA. Firstly there are issues that are outstanding from the GPA, and those issues are known and they are in the public view. These are the issues of the Reserve Bank governor and the Attorney General. Those are outstanding issues – and they are deadlock issues in the sense that the principals have not agreed, theyve failed to agree so there is the deadlock. And that is why in August these issues were taken to the chairperson of the SADC, Zuma and Zuma went with these issues to Kinshasa in the DRC.

But weve also have issues of implementation where agreement was reached for example the provincial governors. It was agreed between the principals that come the 1st of September there shall be new provincial governors for Matabeleland North, for Matabeleland South, for Bulawayo, for Harare, for Mutare and for Masvingo. The conditions of termination of the current governors were agreed, termination date was agreed but implementation has never been effected.

So was the issue of Roy Bennett. It was agreed that he was going to be sworn in together with the provincial governors that was not done. Now these are implementation issues resolved but not implemented.

But we also have issues of non-compliance of the breach of the Global Political Agreement such as the selective arrest of senior and ordinary members of the MDC. We know the members of parliament that have been arrested, that are being prosecuted selectively. We know of disruptions taking place in various farms in Mashonaland West and also disruption in the conservancies throughout the country. These are breaches that are being perpetrated by Zanu-PF. And as the inclusive government, as part of the inclusive government we cannot simply stand and watch the willy-nilly breaches of the Global Political Agreement.

We have come to a point whereby we have said no we need to engage on what is called constructive disengagement. Disengaging from participating in those institutions which legitimise Zanu-PF, for example the Cabinet. Our continued participation in the Cabinet tells a story to the people in Zimbabwe, to the people in the region and internationally that things are OK in Zimbabwe, the Global Political Agreement is being implemented fully. As long as we participate in the Cabinet meetings we are saying things are OK but we have to realise that things are not OK and we cannot continue participating in an inclusive government particularly to Cabinet level whereby the other players are acting in bad faith. Thats why we have disengaged from Cabinet, that why we have disengaged from the Council of Ministers – but this does not mean we have pulled out of government.

We have not pulled out of government, we are part of government, we are the government, and elections were won in March by the MDC at the legislative level as well as at the Presidential race where the President of the MDC came first. So in terms of legitimacy of government, MDC is a bone fide member of that government therefore it cannot disengage from itself, it cannot pull out of itself but we have disengaged from those institutions that give Zanu legitimacy.

GONDA: But Mr Moyo what will the MDC do if Zanu-PF does not give in because just listening to Minister Mutasa, he clearly spells out that Zanu-PF will not take notice of the boycott and theres this great clarity that Zanu-PF will not change so what will you do?

MOYO: No the verdict of the people will prevail. We will go back to the people of Zimbabwe and they will determine the next course of action.

GONDA: What about this criticism though, that you want to stay in this coalition government because you have tasted the benefits – hence only the disengagement. As it remains youve still got your comfort cars, the perks. What do you say about that from people who think you are only doing this for interrupted

MOYO: Most of us had better cars. I mean its not the first time to drive a car. Ive had my own cars before. It doesnt make sense for people to say, or for those people who are criticising us, anyway criticism is the only gift that mediocrity can give to success. What we are saying is Zanu is misbehaving, Zanu is not implementing the GPA, Zanu is not acting in good faith, therefore we have to take a decision as people in government we need to make decisions and take decisions at the same time. We have taken the decision that we shall not legitimise Zanu. We shall not continue to lie to the people of Zimbabwe and say things are happening, there are changes in the country, and we have reforms taking place in the country, when in actual fact we have retrogression taking place in the country. So we have taken a decision, its a hard decision but we have taken it because Zanu-PF need a paradigm shift to accept that they signed a political agreement which needs to be implemented and implemented fully. Thats all I would say.

GONDA: But you are also saying you are not pulling out of this government and Zanu-PF is making it very clear that it is not going to listen to your demands and Mugabe has continuously made it clear that he will not change. So why do you think you can work from within and change this attitude?

MOYO: We are not saying we are working from within within what?

GONDA: With this government because you say you will remain in this government but Zanu-PF is not taking any notice of your boycott.

MOYO: We are also not brooking any nonsense of what they are doing by arresting people willy-nilly. We are refusing to participate in their games. We are saying we cannot be part of a system that is arresting people. We are part of a reformed government. If those reforms are not taking place we are not going to continue to be part of that process. By the way, if MDC pulls out of this government, there shall be no government. I dont know what Mutasa is thinking about because Mugabe is a President of Zimbabwe in respect of the GPA. Without the GPA he is not the President of Zimbabwe. Mutasa is a minister in respect to the GPA, without the GPA he is not a minister, he is illegitimate. So we all derive our existence in government from the GPA. So they cannot wish the GPA away out of existence. They can only derive their existence politically from the GPA. So we have a mutual fate together there under the GPA. Without the GPA there is an election, it means there is no government in Zimbabwe, we need to start afresh.

GONDA: Let me go back to the issue of the region. You mentioned that you had sent a letter to the SADC Chair, the then SADC Chair Jacob Zuma and the matter was already with SADC so why did you boycott before you had received any feedback from SADC and right now the Prime Minister is actually touring the region? What is happening with that?

MOYO: There was a big issue that took place, where the Treasurer General of the MDC Roy Bennett was selectively put behind bars by the Attorney General of this country. That became proximate cause and not a fundamental cause, a proximate cause. We have had fundamental grievances against Zanu-PF since day one, they have not been implementing the GPA but the frustrations came to a level where we could not accept this issue any further and that is why we said we now need to disengage from Cabinet, we now need the guarantors of the GPA to come in, we are putting pressure on Zanu-PF to implement the GPA. We are not asking for something new, we are not asking for fresh negotiations, we are asking for the full implementation of the GPA. Thats all that we are talking about. So anyone who is against the full implementation of the GPA is against the GPA.

GONDA: So what is the latest from SADC?

MOYO: The latest is that we are expecting the SADC to act. Theyre supposed to act, theyre supposed to come together and bring all the parties together to make sure that the GPA is fully implemented.

GONDA: You know press reports are saying that President Zuma has actually told the Prime Minister to go back and reengage with Robert Mugabe. Isnt this another indication that the MDC is stuck and you are not going to get the necessary support from the region?

MOYO: We are getting the necessary support already. We are looking forward to the next Troika meeting where these issues shall be tabled and we are expecting that the SADC Troika is going to work on these issues and there shall be full implementation of the GPA.

GONDA: But are they not saying go back and reengage with Zanu-PF? Something that youve already done and has failed to work?

MOYO: I dont know of that. What I know is that we are engaging the heads of States of the SADC, we are engaging the Troika, we are engaging everybody so that they can enable us together to implement the GPA. To make sure that pressure is put on Zanu-PF to implement the GPA. We are not asking for anything new from SADC or from wherever. We are asking for what has already been agreed.

GONDA: But what sort of pressure would SADC really put on Zanu-PF?

MOYO: The pressure that we need from them is to, they are the guarantors. The GPA says, the SADC and the African Union are the guarantors, if weve got any problems in the implementation of the GPA, they should come in and facilitate the full implementation of the GPA. So we want them to play their role to enable us as partners who entered into the inclusive government to implement the GPA. Thats all we are asking from them. What kind of approach they are going to take is not up to us. We are expecting them to come up with their approach, we cannot prescribe to them their approach, we cannot even prematurely say this is what they are going to do. We are expecting them as the guarantors to come up with an approach, to come up with a mechanism of making sure that the inclusive government is placed back on the rails.

GONDA: But are you happy with the way they have been handling the matter so far?

MOYO: I do not want to either criticise them or to pass any judgement now. We are expecting them, we are talking to them therefore we cannot at the same time pass judgement before they have actually acted.

GONDA: You know in response to your decision to disengage from Zanu-PF, South Africas main political opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, presented its road map to democracy in Zimbabwe – and this was in the South African parliament. They said that Mugabe cannot be part of Zimbabwes road to democracy, saying he must be offered an exit strategy if the country is to ever recover. What is your response to this?

MOYO: We determine our own course of action as Zimbabweans. I think colleagues all over the world are free to pass opinions, to pass their own comments, to pass their own plans of action but we as Zimbabweans have the final say, we shall determine our own course of action that shall not be influenced by any of the actors outside the boundaries of Zimbabwe.

GONDA: And what is your reaction to statements by some who say that the signing of the GPA was the biggest blunder that the MDC ever made and that Zimbabwe has gained very little from this GNU and that the only person who has benefited is Mugabe as the GNU got him off the hook and has given him time to regroup?

MOYO: I am not sure about that. What I know is that by the end of last year inflation was at 500%. That inflation has dropped to a single digit now. The people of Zimbabwe can walk around the streets, they have food now, and they have a future now. I think it was because of the inclusive government. But I agree with them to a certain extent to say that this has given a new lease of life to Zanu-PF because theyd lost elections, theyd lost elections but because of the inclusive government they are back in government. To that extent I agree with them but in terms of guaranteeing stability in the country and avoiding the leadership for being authors of chaos I think it was important for this inclusive government to be constituted.

And what is more important now is the implementation of the GPA. I dont think the signing of the Agreement was wrong but what is wrong is the lack of implementation of the GPA. It would be seen that Zanu-PF is playing political games. They are using this GPA just to reorganise themselves, just to extend their longevity in government and not to reform the government and not to restore and rehabilitate the economy of the country. So that is the only problem that we are facing. Otherwise the idea of the Global Political Agreement and the idea of an inclusive government I think it was a noble one under the circumstances – realising that Zanu had refused to accept electoral defeat, they had refused again to have a fair and free election so the only available game in town was to sign the Global Political Agreement.

Now those that are saying it was a big mistake, if theyve got an alternative, if they can tell us how best we would have handled the situation or what was the alternative I think it would be appreciated.

GONDA: And a final word Mr Moyo.

MOYO: I want to respond to what Mutasa said about sanctions. I now honestly believe that Zanu PF want sanctions, they want these restrictive measures to remain in place because once they are removed, Zanu-PF has no message at all. Without sanctions Zanu-PF has no message at all otherwise they would have accepted by now Zimbabwe being reclassified as a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) so that all financial penalties are then dealt with – so that all our debts and our arrears are cancelled but they do not want that. It means they want sanctions because they use sanctions to mobilise the people of Zimbabwe to come up with infrastructural violence, as people who are working against the imperialists. Thats their notion that they have otherwise they need these sanctions.

GONDA: Gorden Moyo, Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office, thank you very much for participating on the programme Hot Seat.

MOYO: You are welcome.

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