In this interview with SW Radio Africa’s Lance Guma, Dr Makoni argues that the issues over which the MDC-T are disengaging from ZANU PF are issues of ‘jobs for the boys and girls,’ and not policies that will deliver real change for Zimbabweans.

Lance challenges Makoni on what he would have done, if it was his party in a coalition with ZANU PF and for over 8 months nothing that had been agreed to, had been implemented?

Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe we welcome you to the programme Behind the Headlines. Our special guest today is the interim president of the Mavambo Kusile Dawn Movement and former Finance Minister, Dr Simba Makoni. They recently held a press conference offering their views on the MDC disengagement from the government. Dr Makoni, thank you for joining us on the programme.

Simba Makoni: Thank you very much, it’s my pleasure.

Guma: Right.. now your press conference touched on the MDC disengagement, for the benefit of our listeners could you maybe summarise your position, how did you react to the MDC disengagement?

Makoni: Well first we are perplexed and dismayed by the form of the action; it’s called formally disengagement from Zanu-PF. We’re having difficulties understanding what exactly that means in real terms. They say that they are not leaving the inclusive government, they’re continuing to execute their functions but they are disengaging from Zanu-PF. The one explicit action they have taken is to abstain from Cabinet meetings. One isn’t sure how abstaining from Cabinet meetings is disengaging from Zanu-PF so in essence, the first position is one of misunderstanding, confusion and unclarity about exactly what does this action mean in practical terms.

Guma: But the MDC will say the action they took was designed to get a reaction from the region and there has been some movement towards the troika meeting so they’ll point to that and say this is what it was designed to achieve.

Makoni: Well it was designed to precipitate a crisis and generate a reaction from the region. We think we must first focus on what we can do ourselves. This I think is one of the difficulties with the strategies that say let outsiders solve our problems for us.

Guma: Mmm, but I suppose the problem Dr Makoni is that it has been eight months since this government was formed, there does not seem to be a desire from Zanu-PF to get any of the agreed commitments in place and so a lot of people are saying the MDC is left with little choice.

Makoni: Well quite clearly, the people of Zimbabwe did not expect anything from Zanu-PF. The reason why they voted for change in March 2009 and in other elections before is because they have ceased to have expectation of any positive developments from Zanu-PF and the MDC should have known that and this has been pointed out to them right from the time of the negotiation of the Global Political Agreement. To have expected Zanu-PF to behave differently would have been a gross misunderstanding of Zanu-PF and its nature and character.

Guma: Now in your press statement Dr Makoni, you talked about the fact that the MDC, in your view, are disengaging from Zanu-PF based on issues of jobs for the boys and girls. Can you explain that position?

Makoni: Well basically, Prime Minister Tsvangirai made a statement which said that the fact that Roy Bennett has not been installed as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and provincial governors and ambassadors and other public officers that the MDC expected to have been put in place have not been put in place. That’s why they are disengaging from Zanu-PF because people have not been put in jobs. That’s what we mean by the jobs for the boys and girls. It would have been much better for the people of Zimbabwe to be told by Morgan and the MDC we are disengaging from Zanu-PF because we are not agreeing on policies to solve the country’s problems.

Policies that stop the country declining, the people’s lives being threatened, policies that enable the economy to recover so that people can have better lives than they had before. This is what the people of Zimbabwe voted for and this is what they expected from the MDC component of the inclusive government. The people of Zimbabwe had no expectation of anything out of the Zanu-PF component of the inclusive government because they have lived with it for 28 years until March 29th. And if Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his national executive were saying they are disengaging from Zanu-PF because they had not moved policies, programmes and strategies to change the lives of Zimbabweans, we would be applauding them.

Guma: But a lot of people will say…

Makoni: When we said we will support the inclusive government it was because we wanted the inclusive government to change the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, to move Zimbabweans from drudgery and poverty into welfare and wellbeing and this is not what the MDC are doing in the inclusive government.

Guma: But surely Dr Makoni, as a technocrat yourself, you would appreciate the importance of having the right people in the jobs, in government to carry out their mandate and implement the policies properly?

Makoni: Oh absolutely. I don’t know if I’m a technocrat or not but I am a practical and pragmatic Zimbabwean but I appreciate fully the need for competent people, by the way competence is one of the core values of our party, but I will say to you with more than half of the ministers in the Cabinet of the inclusive government and a handful of deputy ministers and a smaller number of bureaucrats from the MDC, that’s sufficient competence to have made a mark on the policy formulation front. If we had a list of new policies that have been proposed by the MDC for implementation which had failed because there are no ambassadors and there are no governors and there are no deputy ministers, we would be very understanding and accommodating, even supportive of such a position but unfortunately we don’t have those things.

Guma: But the point remains – why should Mugabe be allowed to get away with making unilateral appointments? I refer here to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, the point remains the Agreement specifically stated that the parties had to consult on senior appointments and that did not happen?

Makoni: Oh precisely, he shouldn’t be allowed and Prime Minister Tsvangirai took Oath of Office in the inclusive government knowing that there were those issues and those are the issues indeed which would form part of the agenda for change but not be the agenda for change itself. That’s where we’re making the distinction.

Guma: Let me give another example. You are a former Finance Minister so you probably appreciate this point even much better, the appointment of Gideon Gono, the MDC have argued that during his tenure as Reserve Bank governor a lot of things have happened including the raiding of corporate foreign currency accounts and that this has damaged the confidence of people who are pouring money into Zimbabwe, so his continued presence at the Reserve Bank is an impediment to government moving forward. Would you not accept such a point?

Makoni: Lance, I considered that there are issues, but remember Gideon raided corporate FCAs before the inclusive government. We drew a line from February 13th when the inclusive government took oath and went into office. We are measuring the performance from there, we are not going back. Indeed impediments should be removed but what we are saying is we would be understanding and sympathetic, supportive even if what the Prime Minister was saying to us was look at what we tried to do from February 13th going forward, this policy we proposed, it was blocked by Robert Mugabe, this policy we suggested it was blocked by Gideon Gono, we would be very understanding and sympathetic of that point of view. But again I repeat, we haven’t been presented with that position.

Guma: Let me get what you would have done in similar circumstances. You are in this coalition with Zanu-PF, some of the agreed positions have not been implemented including the swearing in of one of your deputy ministers, what would you do?

Makoni: Well first I wouldn’t have entered into such a terrible Agreement. You know that our first reaction to the GPA was that this was a terrible Agreement, it was unworkable, it was unbalanced and it was going to make life very difficult for Prime Minister Tsvangirai and the MDC. We said that at the beginning long before they took Oath of Office on 11th and 13th February. So the first point I would have done is not to enter into a terrible Agreement like that and so I would have worked for a better Agreement which would enable me to function effectively and if that had happened I think a lot of the problems we are confronting today would have been obviated.

Guma: Some will say you are underestimating the kind of creature that the MDC had to deal with. I mean you were looking at a party, which probably as a former member, you yourself will appreciate how stubborn some of the individuals are and how resistant they are to change so some will say why would you not accept the fact that compromises had to be made for the sake of the people?

Makoni: Oh I’m not denying that compromises had to be made. Remember that my whole thrust of campaigning was about accommodation, cooperation and compromise but it’s the kind of compromise and the content of compromise. If it’s compromise for its sake then I think we will be missing the point. Was it compromise that would have enabled effectiveness? As we can see now, this compromise did not make the Prime Minister effective and that is where the first problem lies.

Guma: Someone would say to you Dr Makoni, what’s the point of being in power if you can’t nominate your own people? I mean ideally, it seems pretty clear the MDC are trying in the power matrix to position themselves in such a way that they can effectively deliver the change that everyone is talking about and so would you not be at risk here of belittling genuine complaints that the MDC feel that they have against Zanu-PF?

Makoni: No it would be a misunderstanding of our position. We are not belittling the MDC contribution. What we are saying is that the MDC should have been wiser at the beginning and we are saying that the MDC contribution would have been better and more substantive if it was addressed at policies, strategies, programmes and actions that changed the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, that enabled Zimbabwean farmers to grow food for themselves, that enabled Zimbabwean teachers to teach at school, that enabled Zimbabwean doctors to treat diseases in hospital.

But because the focus is on get Gideon Gono out of office and put Roy Bennett into office that’s why we are saying that the focus is on jobs for the boys. And jobs for the boys do not necessarily deliver change for the people of Zimbabwe. We would like Prime Minister Tsvangirai to succeed, we would like the inclusive government to succeed we said this, but succeed on substance. Not fight over motorcars, not fight over the kind of furniture and TVs in the office of the Minister but fight over policies that change the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.

Guma: Now this dispute Dr Makoni has been taken to the Southern African Development Community, you yourself spent more than a decade at the helm of that organisation, if I might ask you to speculate – what do you think is going to happen from here? Do you think the regional grouping has what it takes to deal with this issue?

Makoni: Well first let me tell you that the SADC that I was involved in was very different from the SADC that we have today so the dynamics in the organisation are quite different. Secondly I think you want to appreciate that SADC’s principal anchoring from January 29th 2009 was that Zimbabweans, we have given you an instrument of management of your national affairs – inclusive government and JOMIC. If anything goes wrong, sort yourselves out through those institutions. We went to the DRC last month and Prime Minister Tsvangirai is now crisscrossing the region. I have no different expectation from the region than you have the institutions through which to solve your own problems, go ahead and solve them yourselves.

Guma: But it’s eight months and nothing has been solved and the regional grouping is one of the guarantors of the Agreement so shouldn’t they do something?

Makoni: Well look, the primary responsibility for solving Zimbabwe’s problems lies with Zimbabweans and since February 13th it lies principally with the inclusive government. These people came to the country and said we are offering ourselves as a partnership to solve your problems because we believe we are competent to do it. Let them show their competence.

Guma: To end the programme Dr Makoni, I’ll just ask one final question. Your views on pending or impending elections in 2011, in terms of your own political party, how do you see things going?

Makoni: Well first, I don’t know that there’s a timetable for the next elections. The requirements for a free and fair election as stipulated in the Global Political Agreement are not yet in place and they don’t seem to be coming into place. It’s one of the issues over which we have concerns about the performance of the inclusive government, but that said, we are preparing ourselves now as a fully fledged political party, not only to contest the next election whenever it comes but to win the next election and that’s our position.

Guma: That was Dr Simba Makoni joining us on Behind the Headlines.

To listen to the interview Click Here

For feedback e-mail lance@swradioafrica.com

Lance Guma
Producer/Presenter