Interview: Jonathan Moyo

MUNYARADZI HUNI (MH) Professor Moyo, you have now received the letter confirming your readmission into Zanu-PF. What is the first thing you would want to do to mark your return?

JONATHAN MOYO (JM): This is not like the situation of a groom and bride being alone for the first time after their wedding and so there are no “first things to do” in a matter like this not least because I have not all along been sitting idle and twiddling my fingers waiting for an official letter to confirm my formal return to Zanu PF. What I know is that the reconfirmation of my Zanu PF membership is a call to hard work for my party, community and country and that’s what I will henceforth do with all my heart, mind and energies.

MH: Some people are saying Zanu-PF is just formally accepting your readmission now, but you have been working with the party from behind the scenes since the presidential run-off? How far true are these allegations?

JM: What is true is that the only political party that I have been associated with, belonged to and worked for with total commitment is Zanu PF. That is public knowledge. Even when they have been very serious differences, such as those that went out of control when I ran as an independent candidate in the 2005 parliamentary elections, my fundamental political engagements have been with Zanu PF comrades because they are the only ones I know and have reason to trust.

If I were to get lost from Zanu PF, I would most definitely be lost with some Zanu PF comrades and never with political strangers. Indeed, the people who have supported me over the years including the majority in Tsholotsho who voted for me in 2005 and 2008 are without doubt Zanu PF people or those sympathetic to Zanu PF’s ideology and principles and who appreciated the development projects that have been done there with and through Zanu PF.

In any case, my closest professional and family friends have remained Zanu PF. I have very good acquaintances in other political parties but not trusted friends or comrades. 

After the inconclusive results of the March 29, 2008, elections it became clear from the celebratory reaction of certain hostile foreign interests and racist Rhodie quarters that the legacy and gains of our liberation struggle were under unprecedented threat and for that reason and that reason alone, I did not think twice about the fact that the revolutionary, nationalist and Pan-African base in our country needed to be defended without regard to temporary political differences that had caused me to contest and win the elections as an independent candidate in Tsholotsho North.

So yes I supported President Robert Mugabe in the presidential run-off election in June last year because he was representing the entire revolutionary, nationalist and Pan African constituency against what had become very clear and dangerous American and European efforts to takeover the sovereignty of our country through the MDC-T whose true treacherous colours came out screaming with threats to reverse the historic land reform programme and to undermine national empowerment programmes.

When the enemies of our revolution became aware of my political support for President Mugabe in the June 2008 presidential runoff election, they predictably became recklessly desperate and responded by making patently false claims that I was behind the unacceptable and deplorable political violence that took place in some parts of Mashonaland province.

It is now a well known fact in Zimbabwean politics that when the Americans and Europeans who run, fund and control the MDC T find themselves cornered, they engineer political tension and political violence in our country which they blame on Zanu PF using elements of the international media that they control. While this evil strategy has worked in the past, it will never work again because everyone, including many in Sadc and the AU, now knows that strategy.

MH: When you were fired from Zanu-PF after standing as an independent candidate in Tsholotsho, you said “those who appoint can also disappoint.” What has made you change your mind to come back and work with those who “can also disappoint”?

JM: The notion that those who appoint can also disappoint is a fact not only of political life but also of all organisational existence. It’s found in politics, business, churches, professional associations, sporting clubs and NGOs. Only those among us who are inexperienced have not experienced it. So I have not changed my mind about that indisputable historical truth which was there even before I was dismissed from the Cabinet in February 2005. Therefore, the restoration of my Zanu PF membership has nothing to do with that truth. Anyone who is appointed today by anyone in any organisation or walk of life must be open to the possibility that they maybe disappointed with a dismissal tomorrow.

MH:Some critics have described you as an “opportunist” who goes with the wind while others are calling you all sorts of names like “a political prostitute, a turncoat and a chameleon.” What is your response?

JM: Well, I frankly do not live to respond to such nonsense which reveals more the political and intellectual bankruptcy of those who say the things you mention than anything else useful. I pity those who accuse me of opportunism for they do not understand that anyone who cannot take opportunities that come their way is a dodo.

Ask any economist and they will tell you that the real cost that matters the most is the opportunity cost. Lose an opportunity and you have lost everything. That is why there is nothing as expensive as a foregone opportunity. So I do not believe for a moment that opportunism is a sin, crime or moral weakness. In fact, opportunism is the essence of politics; if you do not know that, read Machiavelli’s the Prince and the Discourses.

But those who describe me as a political prostitute simply because I have refused to join the MDC-T or to be part of it in anyway or simply because I have rejoined Zanu PF which is the only party I have ever belonged to are deranged political pimps who are so depraved as to think or believe that anyone who rejects them is a political prostitute. The record will show that the only political party I have been associated with or I have belonged to is Zanu-PF. That language comes from mentally retarded sexists who treat women who spurn them as prostitutes.

I have not been a member of any other political party not associated with Zanu PF. So how can I be a political prostitute when, even by the reckoning of my political detractors, I have always been Zanu PF and I have therefore stayed and remained with one political partner? I have never been politically promiscuous and that is fact. My ideological home and my principles have always been with Zanu PF and I have sought alternatives with Zanu PF colleagues. I have either held a Zanu PF card or I have been Zanu PF at heart throughout my life going back to my days as a student.

The fact that I have at various times criticised the Zanu PF leadership or some of the party’s policies or actions with reference to specific matters has never ideologically or in terms of principles meant I’m less of Zanu PF. It is as ironic as it is revealing that the people who describe my criticism of some Zanu PF policies or instances of poor leadership in the party as political prostitution are the very same people who say Zanu PF is not a democratic party that allows criticism from its members. That also goes for the allegation that I am a political turncoat. Surely, that would have been true had I left Zanu PF to join either of the MDC-T formations or to join any of the political parties that have over the years opposed Zanu-PF’s ideology and principles.

But I have not done anything of the sort. I have remained close to my Zanu PF principles and comrades even when I was not formally a member of the party as was the case since February 2005. I’m aware that when I ran as an independent candidate in 2005 some sick minds said I was being a turncoat and now that I have gone back to Zanu PF the same sick minds say I’m a turncoat. What, in God’s name, do these ignoramuses understand by the word “turncoat”?

As for those like The Standard newspaper who have called me a chameleon, I have some good and bad news for them. If they say I’m a chameleon as a term of endearment that is meant to recognise the fact that my political opinions always reflect political changes on the ground in the same way that a chameleon always reflects the true colours of its environment, then I am flattered and indebted to them for their correct and kind description of my political opinions. That’s the good news.

But if they are calling me a chameleon as a political and ethnic insult which reflects their political intolerance reminiscent of insults Hutus in Rwanda used to heap on Tutsis whom they called cockroaches, then the MDC T and its mouthpieces like the Standard must prepare for a battle royal. That’s the bad news because that’s hate speech.

We have some tribalists in the MDC T and its NGO and media network who think that they can get away with using hate insults such as “chameleon” to describe political opponents in the same way some Hutus called Tutsis “cockroaches” before unleashing a deadly genocide against them. So is the MDC T insulting me as a chameleon in order to dehumanise me since a chameleon does not have the same rights as a human being or what?

Given that the MDC T always claims to be a target of hate speech in the public media, does it believe that insulting me as a chameleon in newspapers like the weekly Standard is an expression of “love speech” the MDC T way? It is very instructive that the same political party whose functionaries and media mouthpieces have called me a “chameleon” has also done nothing to discipline Sekai Holland, who is its senior official and a co-minister of national healing, for scandalously insulting the history and heritage of the people of Matabeleland by alleging that political violence in Zimbabwe is rooted from Matabeleland whose King Mzilikazi and his Ndebele people were more cruel than British colonialists whose brutality, inhumanity and domination precipitated both the second and third chimurengas.

People can say what they want but the Americans and Europeans who are funding and controlling the MDC T are clearly using taxpayer funds from their countries to bankroll and fuel ethnic hatred in Zimbabwe among many other evils whose list is growing by the day under the false rhetoric of human rights and democracy.

Does democracy not allow me to take the positions I wish to take and say the things I want to say? Does democracy not allow me to associate with whom I want when I want and where I want? Do I not have rights to make these choices as a human being and not as a chameleon?

Tsvangirai and many of the other media hacks who have been demonising me as a political prostittute, turncoat and chameleon were not long ago in Zanu PF, ZUM, Democratic Party, Zimbabwe Intergrated Party to name but a few. Unlike them, the only party I’ve known is Zanu PF. Why are Tsvangirai and his lot not called political prostitutes, turncoats or chameleons? Is it because of thei tribes, their links to America and Europe or what?

I can assure you of one thing. If the MDC T and its newspapers like the Standard think they can get away by calling people who hold different views from them chameleons either to spite them or to insult their ethnic groups, then they must know that just like the sun will rise tomorrow some of us will meet them not only at the polls but also in court among other places. That is a promise, not a threat.

MH: In the past you have been accused by some senior Zanu-PF officials, especially those from Matabeleland of being an “arrogant mafikizolo who lacked respect for elders”. Do you think your relationship with these elders will change for the better now?

JM: While I have no particular reason to doubt the import of your question, I nevertheless doubt its premise. I think it is either an exaggeration or a misrepresentation to say that all senior Zanu PF leaders from Matabeleland held that view. But I do accept that there are indeed some leaders or elders in the party from Matabeleland and elsewhere who saw me in the terms you describe.

I believe I have answered the underlying logic of this question when I dealt with your last two questions. While every family cannot be without its squabbling side as an expression of human nature, I can assure you that I do not have any problem with the party’s elders from Matabeleland or any other province in the country. In fact, I am very grateful to them for my return to the party because they supported me unconditionally and I am very proud of that fact. You know, elders are as such because of history and I know only too well that history is God’s revelation and so I accept it.

MH: Still on that issue of elders, you have a court case against Zanu PF chairman Cde John Nkomo. Now that you have rejoined the party, are you going to pursue the case?

JM: I am sure that you know that the case you are referring to was closed in December 2006 and that the Court reserved its judgement. As a litigant who initiated the case, there is nothing I can do besides closing the case in an open court through my legal representatives. In this vein, you cannot ask me whether I am going to continue pursuing a closed case. How can I do that? The case is closed and that’s it! So I did everything that I could do in terms of the law and I am happy with that.

What I think you should appreciate is that there is no way under the sun I would have allowed a situation where I am falsely accused of instigating or organising a coup against the President to go unchallenged in a court of law. The false and malicious allegation against me was too serious and it required an equally serious and robust rebuttal in a court of law. The fact that the judgement is pending is not my responsibility.

Of course I am Zanu PF and I believe in my party’s Constitution, ideology and principles. I also respect my party’s leadership. But we are also a country of laws the majority of which have been made by Zanu PF in Parliament over the years. So we are also a country based on the rule of law notwithstanding the political rumblings of some detractors who imagine that the rule of law is their hypocritical slogan. Doing something in terms of the rule of law cannot be against Zanu PF except in the minds of the party’s detractors. I am sure you are aware that for sometime the Zanu PF government itself took a Cabinet minister, Francis Nhema, to court. So going to court in terms of our own rule of law cannot be and must not be a political issue because it is simply and only a legal issue.

MH: There were reports that you wanted to bring to Parliament, the Gukurahundi Bill as a way of fixing Zanu-PF. What happened to the Bill and what is its fate now that you are back to Zanu PF?

JM: I believe that only malcontents are of that view. It is cheap politics to suggest that a Gukurahundi Bill that seeks to rehabilitate victims or their dependents and a permanent memoriam and does not at all seek witch-hunting or revenge somehow is an instrument for fixing Zanu PF. That is very weird. You cannot reconcile or forgive by fixing people. The fact that the Gukurahundi period marks the darkest chapter of our history as an independent nation does not make us odd.

Look at the violence that erupted in Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa after 1994 and review the reconciliation that has since taken place. Also don’t forget that despite fighting in two World Wars and despite fighting all sorts of deadly wars including in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the civil war in America remains the deadliest ever fought by Americans and yet reconciliation was achieved. And so believe me that Gukurahundi Bill you are talking about had a significant number of Zanu PF supporters who know that President Mugabe has called the Gukurahundi period a “moment of madness”.

The Bill did not go forward because the timing was not right not because its contents were wrong. Only Zanu PF is capable of putting that moment of madness behind us and I pray and believe that one day Zanu PF will do so when the time is right. I really believe that and I am happy to live with that honest and genuine belief as the fate of that Bill.

By the way, there was also a blessing in disguise during the time when that Bill was in currency. I discovered that the MDC T through some of its leaders, including elements who are now either in the Cabinet or in the illegal MDC T parallel government in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office who were working in donor offices, do not see the Gukurahundi as a serious issue beyond their cheap politics.

In fact, I know that key members of the Prime Minister’s office have blocked funding for Gukurahundi awareness activities on purely tribal and personal grounds. I have first hand knowledge about that and if they continue playing silly games like Sekai Holland is doing, I will mention names and incidents to shame the MDC T hypocrites who think Matabeleland is there for cheap votes using emotive issues like the Gukurahundi period. In fact, this is the reason why I believe only Zanu PF can properly and appropriately deal with that issue at the right time and not the MDC T or its donors who were conspicuous by their silence during the Gukurahundi period and now want to poke their long noses into our internal affairs.

MH: Some people are saying you are rejoining Zanu PF because you realised that with the inclusive government, you were fast becoming irrelevant to the politics of the day and that you are now positioning yourself for a post in government? What is your comment?

JM: I am indeed aware of that ridiculous sentiment and what I find instructive about it is that it is coming from the same quarters that said something similar in December last year when I defended not only the appointments of the Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono as lawful but also when I defended Tomana’s right to his freedom of political association as a Zanu PF member.

The claim then was that I was seeking a position in the Cabinet that was formed on February 11. When I criticised the selection of some members of that Cabinet whom I saw as deadwood, the criticism was that I was expressing sour grapes. Now when my Zanu-PF membership has been restored the new line is that I am positioning myself for a post in government. When will these people grow up?

In my view this nonsense is coming from people who are either incompetent or insecure and who, like the MDC-T has shown since the signing of the GPA [Global Political Agreement] on September 15, 2008, think that politics and leadership are only about positions. Too bad for them. I have never believed that politics or leadership is about positions. For me, leadership is a disposition and not a position. Anyone of us can exercise leadership wherever they are, whenever they want and whoever they are. Those who need an office or a post in government in order to exercise leadership are insecure or incompetent and want to do things while hiding under some post.

I am back in Zanu PF not only because I want myself to be back as per my application to be re-admitted to the Party but also because Zanu PF itself has welcomed me back. If I did not want to belong to Zanu PF I would have not sought my re-admission and if the Party did not want me to be its member, it would not have re-admitted me. It’s as simple as that. The position I have sought in and from Zanu PF is my membership and that is what I have got and nothing else.

The suggestion that I am seeking any other position is coming from people who have their own fears and it is not for me to address other people’s fears without risking misrepresenting them.

MH: You became a Member of the House of Assembly after standing in Tsholotsho North as an independent candidate. Some people are saying by rejoining Zanu PF, you are betraying the people of Tsholotsho North. Don’t you feel the same?

JM: Of course I do not feel the same because I know as much as the people of Tsholotsho know that the matter is not that simple. If you have been reading newspapers and online publications since the formation of the coalition government, you would not say that I have become irrelevant and still hope to be taken as a serious journalist.

The opposite is in fact true. Relevance is defined by activity and I have certainly not been inactive at all. I have said many times now that I have rejoined Zanu PF because that is my constitutional choice and because the party has also accepted me back.

Although I know there are some scattered and irrelevant voices especially outside Tsholotsho that are making noise about my decision, I happen to know first hand that the people of Tsholotsho expected and wanted me to represent them as a Zanu PF candidate in 2005. They were surprised and disappointed when that did not happen and they did not understand the reasons behind that sad development because they expected the same party through which and with which I had worked with to develop Tsholotsho to support my candidacy in its name.

In fact, the people of Tsholotsho sent all the chiefs from the constituency to make representations to the Zanu PF leadership for me to represent the constituency as the party’s candidate in 2005. This is in the public record.

What is not in the public record, but what is known to a number of leading Zimbabweans including Attorney General Tomana who in January 2005 went with me to Chief Tategulu’s homestead for a meeting with all the Chiefs in Tsholotsho when he was a private citizen, is that the Chiefs in Tsholotsho did not even want me to run as an Independent but wanted me to humbly accept what they saw as “unfair punishment from the party” and wait to see what would happen in the fullness of time.

Therefore, although in the end they supported me as their “son”, my decision to run as an Independent candidate was not with the initial blessing of my beloved chiefs and the people of Tsholotsho. I know this more than anyone else and I do not need a preacher on the matter. The chiefs and people of Tsholotsho knew then as they know today that the development projects that I spearheaded in the area between 2000 and 2005, which developments are still there today as they will be tomorrow, were done with and through Zanu PF. This is a fact that even those with a pathological hatred of Zanu PF cannot ignore.

In fact, even other projects I spearheaded in Matabeleland outside Tsholotsho such as the Lupane State University were done with the support and leadership of Zanu PF and the opposition of the MDC T. There are many other examples across Matabeleland and the country which I did with and through Zanu PF, such as the 75% local content for Zimbabwean music on radio which the MDC T still opposes to this day on behalf of foreign music and foreign artists or the support for the Warriors and football in our country. I did that with and through Zanu PF. So my work with and through Zanu PF in Matabeleland and across the country speaks for itself.

The people of Tsholotsho and others across the country rightly believe that the work we did so well together will now resume with better prospect now that I am back in Zanu PF.

MH: There are reports that for you to win in Tsholotsho North you entered into a deal with the MDC-T that saw the party agreeing not to field a candidate in your constituency. How far true are these reports because indeed the MDC-T did not field a candidate in your constituency during the last elections?

JM: Please remember that in 2005, less than five years ago, I defeated the candidate of the unified MDC before it split in October of that year. With its combined strength and at its heydays, the MDC could not defeat me as an independent candidate. Don’t forget that. So why would it be an issue or a challenge for me to defeat a divided MDC in 2008? Anyhow get it from me, I never ever entered into a deal with the MDC-T over Tsholotsho. My only very serious discussions about such a deal were in fact with MDC-M and I had many discussions that are too numerous to mention with Professor Welshman Ncube and Professor Arthur Mutambara and many others in the MDC-M about their not fielding a candidate in Tsholotsho North.

While Ncube and Mutambara were well disposed to that idea, nothing materialised in the end because others in their party such as Gibson Sibanda and Dulini Ncube were resolutely opposed to the idea and their will prevailed and so by the time of the nomination court, the MDC-M and I knew there was no deal.

Perhaps because some people in the MDC T also knew about my failed discussions with the MDC M, and perhaps because they also knew that they had no chance whatsoever in Tsholotsho which had become an MDC M stronghold by 2008, I started reading through the Standard newspaper that the MDC T would not field a candidate in Tsholotsho North in the “interest of supporting democratic forces”. No senior leader of the MDC T ever discussed this with me to reach a verbal or written agreement or to spell out what the deal would mean during and after the elections. I certainly did not have any discussion with them of the kind I had with Ncube and Mutambara.

It became clear to me that the MDC T was playing cheap politics. They knew how weak they were in certain areas in Matabeleland such as Tsholotsho and they sought to deal with that weakness by associating themselves with candidates or people like me on whom they thought they would ride or hide. They did this by making self-serving press statements while never entering into any discussion or agreement with those affected.

If the MDC T truly meant to not field candidates where other democratic forces were contesting, then how come I was the only independent candidate given that dispensation when there were so many other independent candidates across the country in my situation? More telling is the fact that the MDC T did not also field a candidate for the House of Assembly in Tsholotsho South, a stone-throw away from my constituency. Was that done to help me in Tsholotsho North or they simply did not have a candidate to field because they are not a political force in Tsholotsho? And why is the MDC T not claiming that, Maxwell Dube, the MDC M MP for Tsholotsho South is there because they did not field a candidate in his constituency?

The MDC T candidate for the Senate in Tsholotsho North, which I represent, and Tsholotsho South came a distant third from the winning MDC M candidate and well behind the Zanu PF candidate who came second. Was that to support or assist me?

But even worse, there are 22 wards in Tsholotsho for the rural district council and the MDC T won only 2 of those! Again, was that the achievement of a party that can legitimately claim to have been a power broker in Tsholotsho ahead of the 2008 elections? Surely, how could a party that couldn’t help itself in Tsholotsho help me?

I have said on record and I will repeat here that anyone in the MDC T or among their funders or media mouthpieces who believes that I won Tsholotsho North because the MDC T supported me by not fielding a candidate is a blithering idiot because there is no single fact on the ground to support that rubbish.

The truth that has not been told is that the MDC T thought its Senate and council candidates, who campaigned using my election posters and other campaign materials, would hoodwink the electorate by claiming to be associated with me and my candidacy but the wise and vigilant people of Tsholotsho rejected that. There is more to be said about this and it will be told at the appropriate time, save to mention here that had the MDC T fielded a candidate, my victory margins would have been much higher because the MDC M candidate who came second after me benefited from MDC T voters who have always vowed that they would not vote for a Zanu PF person like me.