THE INTERVIEW: Tichaona Zindoga
The ouster of Mutasa from zanu-pf and Parliament has been welcomed by most members of the ruling party but nowhere has relief been as keenly felt as in his home area of Headlands, where the self-anointed godfather of Manicaland presided over a reign of terror.
A member of the provincial zanu-pf Youth League Executive, Dakarai Mapuranga (DM), tells our Political Editor, Tichaona Zindoga (TZ), of the relief and the prospects of life after Mutasa.
TZ: You are one of the youth leaders from Manicaland province and you actually come from the Headlands constituency. How have you received the expulsion of Cde Mutasa from the party and his recall from Parliament?
DM: Well, to be precise about Didymus Mutasa’s expulsion, we were actually quite pleased that the Politburo took that decision. The constituency, through our last provincial co-ordinating committee, took a position that Didymus Mutasa should be expelled, which was expounded by Cdes Patrick Chinamasa and Oppah Muchinguri. The people are happy with the position that has been taken. It is well known that Mr Mutasa did not participate in the previous primary elections for that constituency.
There was an exception on seniority; however, right now the people in Headlands feel they have a mandate and a right, without fear and intimidation, to choose a candidate of their choice whom they think will represent their interests.
TZ: You speak of intimidation, and of course there have been lots of reports to that effect. Can you describe the atmosphere of the province during the leadership of Mr Mutasa?
DM: Principally what would happen is that there was a culture where Mr Mutasa would not be opposed.
There have been instances where certain young people who wanted to challenge or express different opinions have been physically, emotionally and psychologically abused.
That is the kind of intimidation we are talking about. Now, in a true democracy that I believe our true war veterans fought for, each member of Zanu-PF is entitled to express their own opinion, whether right or wrong. Zanu-PF is about the people and it’s only the people who decide. The moment we create a culture where people cannot be questioned, or we are afraid of them, we will not have the ideal leadership. Leadership comes from the people and they must decide what they want without fear or intimidation.
TZ: What kind of machinery did he put in place to cause so much intimidation, so much suffering among the people?
DM: You have to appreciate the background that at one stage Mr Mutasa was one of the most senior and revered members. It is not in our culture as Zanu-PF, particularly in the Youth League, to criticise our elders because in most instances the position they relate when they come back to constituencies is attributed to President Mugabe.
This has not always been the fact, because upon further investigation, we have learnt in the last six months that some of the things they purported were espoused by the party leadership through Cde Mugabe were only their own wishes and the people would toe that line.
People follow and listen to the party. When people made sure Mr Mutasa won, they never voted for Mutasa the man, they were voting for Zanu-PF as a party and what it stood for.
TZ: And now that we have seen the back of him, what is the mood like? Are we not seeing chaos and jostling to fill the position?
DM: Yes, what I can explain to you now is, yes, there is jubilation. I am very grateful that for the first time we are now beginning to debate, discuss openly without fear or intimidation. Twelve months ago no one would have thought that Mr Mutasa would have gone the way he has gone.
TZ: Young people like you are in the thick of things right now and we heard during President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations, the President Mugabe actually commending and challenging the youth. How now would you seek to move forward as young people in Manicaland?
DM: What I can say about Headlands constituency is that we can only thank the Head of State for making such a bold decision.
President Mugabe is ahead of his time. When the President talks about young people taking over leadership, it is because the President actually acknowledges that a few years ago, most of the people that we look up to as our current leadership were youths and the President’s legacy is always and has always been about grooming new leadership. But it should be based on principle, not on power grabbing.
TZ: Back to Headlands, somebody recently stated that it needs some kind of reconstruction. What needs to be done to wipe off the legacy of Mutasa and underdevelopment?
DM: First and foremost I want to note that there are some opportunists who have gone into Headlands right now. Who in our moments of crisis opted for “bhora musango” hence our theme for 2013 was “bhora mugedhi”. Such people should never ever be allowed to spearhead the next stage of the development of Headlands constituency because they put us on the ‘bhora musango’ path in 2008.
Secondly, Headlands constituency is a very productive area but people have not fully realised their potential because there has been no development agenda. The issue has been about power. However, where we are right now, is that we may have as many candidates as possible to replace Mutasa but these candidates should be principled. Are they grounded in Zanu-PF?
There are some people masquerading as war veterans, who from our research only joined the camps in 1979, during the ceasefire period and they are the ones intimidating people in Headlands.
Those people should never be allowed to lead the reconstruction of Headlands. Let each and every Zimbabwean be free to express their wishes, their opinions and their concerns, whatever those wishes might be.
The wishes of the people is what took them to the liberation struggle because no one wrote a letter stating that “I do hereby wish to apply to go to war in Mozambique.” People went because they wanted to serve. They were subservient to the wishes of the people, so the wishes of the people are the most important.
An opportunity has arisen for young people and even if we go into primaries as eight or 12 candidates, so be it. And whoever wins must have the support of all of us because of the principles we stand on. That is the Zanu-PF that I know people fought for.
TZ: Mr Mutasa has indicated that he wishes to stand as a Zanu-PF candidate. Let’s put it this way, if he stands on whatever terms he may fancy, do you see him winning in Headlands?
DM: People voted for Mr Mutasa because he was a representative of Zanu-PF. And also by the same token you should not victimise and intimidate the leadership that supported him in Zanu-PF because they supported him on the basis that he was Zanu-PF.
In his own right he will not win that election because Zanu-PF has a hierarchy, an order and a value system. The value system which we as young people are there to defend and expound.
So you are going to see that he will fall. If Mutasa was very popular in his own right, he would have at least made it into the Central Committee. Why did he fail to make it into the central committee elections? That should answer your question. I thank you.
TZ: We hear there could be even a party to celebrate Mr Mutasa’s fall. Can you elaborate?
DM: What has happened is that the young people of Headlands constituency have said let’s come together, albeit on short notice, and discuss and celebrate in a youthful manner the recalling of Didymus Mutasa.
Young people are going to be gathered on Sunday (tomorrow) at Mandara farm at 11 o’clock in Headlands constituency where we will be discussing how we have been liberated from this tyranny. We are calling upon all the entire leadership of Headlands constituency to be there.
Those that have questions will be answered in that meeting. And it is purely a youth initiative where young people will meet, interact, do a bit of sport, listen to a bit of music, have a few selected provincial and national leaders who will address why Didymus Mutasa has been recalled from Headlands constituency.
It would show that the President and the politburo, the central committee are not on their own in that decision.
Remember in the last provincial co-ordination committee, the resolution was sponsored by the constituents and it is the same constituents who want to celebrate and thank the provincial leadership that accepted our message to recall Didymus Mutasa.