Zanu-pf suffered from the maladministration of expelled former secretary for administration Mr Didymus Mutasa who ran the important department like a tuckshop, raising stinging rebuke from President Mugabe during last year’s Sixth zanu-pf National People’s Congress following his chaotic organisation of the Youth and Women’s League conferences. The man who took over from Mr Mutasa, Cde Ignatius Chombo (IC) tells The Herald Political Editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) of the big mess he inherited, but has moved quickly to assuage.
TZ: You are three months into your position as Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration. How have you settled in the role?
IC: Following my appointment by the President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF Cde R G Mugabe as secretary for Administration in December 2014, I have had the opportunity to discuss with His Excellency the President, the parameters of my mandate over and above that which is stipulated in the constitution and I have also taken time to acquaint myself with the general administrative systems and processes within the party.
TZ: To take you back to the appointment itself, many people were rather shocked that you landed the post. Did you see this coming and what do you think the President saw in you?
IC: The appointment of Politburo secretaries is the prerogative of the President and First Secretary and I am grateful that he asked me to serve in this capacity for the next four years.
I was equally shocked by the appointment but I am humbled to be appointed to serve the party in this capacity.
I am also fully cognisant of the responsibility that comes with the post and recognise that execution of the task will require concerted effort and teamwork with colleagues within the Politburo and indeed throughout the party leadership at various levels from cell to the central committee.
TZ: Can you highlight the state of the party administration as you took over from Mr Mutasa and how do you seek to do things differently?
IC: Each administrator comes into the job with his own views and style. My approach is informed by the dictates of the constitution, which states that the main functions and responsibilities of the secretary for administration are as follows: 1)Act as the secratry to the presidium; 2) Act as the Secretary of the National People’s Conference; 3) Act as the secretary of the National People’s Congress; 4)Act as the secretary of the Central Committee and the Politiburo.
It is also my duty to conduct and receive all general correspondence relating to party administration and also to take minutes of Youth and Women’s conferences and, finally, to supervise and coordinate the efficient administration of the party.
During the last several years these systems had collapsed. Personnel were hired and fired willy-nilly.
Administrative meetings to co-ordinate the activities of the party were not held and decisions were made with very little consultation. There was no organogram put in place and job descriptions and relevant qualifications were not adhered to.
So, it’s those issues that I am correcting as the new secretary for administration. But I implement these with the help of my colleagues within the Politburo.
It is also my duty as the secretary for administration to make sure that the party headquarters is kept in a neat condition and that necessary repairs are made. It is also my duty to make sure that staff employed by the party at district, provincial and at the headquarters are motivated and that their wishes and aspirations as workers are addressed appropriately. It is also my duty to make sure that directors of various departments are functioning properly.
Since assuming office we have addressed many issues that had been unattended for a long time. We resuscitated meetings for heads of departments every week so that the entire team knows what the priorities are for that week.
We have completed a new organogram for the party Headquarters and the provinces as well. This new organogram streamlines the activities and the decision making processes of the party.
We have also set up a co-ordinating committee, which I chair, to co-ordinate party activities and programmes. We have also set up a mobilising committee led by national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere; we have also set up a transport and welfare committee led by Cde Oppah Muchinguri; we have an economic affairs committee headed by Cde Chris Mushohwe and we will soon set up a finance committee led by Dr Obert Mpofu.
These systems — these committees and subcommittees — will assist in the smooth running of the party. These committees will ensure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
That will help us avoid the shambolic situation such as the one that was left behind by Cde Mutasa.
These committees are designed to oversee the accelerated implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation as they mirror the ZIM-ASSET clusters to ensure success.
TZ: The issue of Party assets and businesses has been raised as a point where administration has failed to live up to expectations, often leaving the organisation at the mercy of donors. How do you seek to tackle this area?
IC: The Sixth National People’s Congress did indeed implore the Party “to take advantage of the economic opportunities it created by engaging in viable and sustainable business ventures that grow its investment portfolio to generate revenues to support its programmes and activities”.
To this end, I am confident that the respective colleague secretaries of the Politburo handling the respective investment/finance portfolio are seized with the matters.
TZ: There have been reports of party workers going for months without pay, what is your comment on that?
IC: The party has not been immune to the economic challenges that have been experienced in our country due to the deleterious effects of illegal sanctions imposed by western countries on Zimbabwe. However, all party employees have been paid all that is due to them.
The Department of Administration, working with the Department of Finance will continue to seek innovative ways of financing Party programmes and obligations to make sure that party workers are paid on time and on specified dates. I’m happy to say that since this administration took over, party workers have been paid on time.
TZ: Regarding administration, how can Zanu-PF become more bureaucratically a modern, efficient party?
IC: Zanu-PF is a living modern party which will occassionally change, transform and reinvent itself to suit the requirements of times in line with international standards and global best practices.
The creation of, and appointment of Professor Jonathan Moyo to head the new ICT department is testament that Zanu-PF is alive to the realities of today.
TZ: Former secretary for Admin Mr Mutasa has been purporting to be still holding that position and a couple of months ago issued a statement which he signed off as the bona fide secretary for administration of the ruling Zanu-PF party. What was your immediate response to that?
IC: The party constitution requires that a Congress be held every five years to elect new leaders. It further outlines processes that must be undertaken prior to such a congress, some of which are executed by the secretary for administration.
Ahead of the Sixth National People’s Congress, these processes were followed by Cde Mutasa who then was the secretary for administration.
Furthermore, the Politburo constituted provincial congress co-ordinating committees which were headed by Politburo members who came from the provinces. Cde Mutasa came from Manicaland Province and chaired the provincial congress co-ordinating committee.
These committees occasionally reported to the Politburo on the state of their provincial preparedness to attend the congress and issues related to delegates to the Congress.
Hence, the assertion publicised in the media attributed to the former Secretary for administration is grossly misleading and lack constitutional and procedural basis and should be ignored.
Furthermore, Mr Mutasa has been expelled from ZANU-PF, together with Messrs Gumbo and Temba Mliswa. Our party is moving forward without them and we are not bothered by the noise they are making.
TZ: Lastly, how are you juggling the two demanding roles of secretary for administration of the party and being Minister of Local Government?
IC: I must acknowledge that the administration and co-ordination of the party is without doubt central to the smooth running of the party. However, the overall success of the party is due to the collective effort by all members of the party regardless of rank.
Zanu-PF is a dynamic machinery with a long history. Party administration is not a one-man band; it is a collective effort.
Therefore we share duties and it becomes easy to maintain balance between ministerial work and party administration. But more importantly, the various party departments are served by a dedicated team of officials who run party affairs on a day to day basis.