ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo Behind the Headlines

ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo is the surprise guest Behind the Headlines. SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma questions him on reports that his party has instructed their negotiators not to entertain any discussion on an election roadmap or security sector reforms.

Why are they resisting these reforms? Why have they deployed soldiers and youth militia countrywide? Why are security chiefs making statements that show no respect for elections? Gumbo also makes the stunning statement that he does not know of anyone who died in the run-up to the June 2008 one man presidential run-off.

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Interview broadcast 30 May 2011

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Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe and welcome to Behind the Headlines. Reports currently circulating suggest that Robert Mugabe will use the next SADC Summit in South Africa to tell regional leaders that Zimbabwe does not need an election road map and there will be no security sector reforms. The 87 year old ZANU PF leader will hide behind the 2008 power sharing deal and claim it already lays the framework for elections.

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Additionally we are told ZANU PF negotiators have already been instructed not to enter into any discussions on the election road map or reforms to the security sector. So we decided to get comment from the ZANU PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and my first question was – have they already instructed their negotiators not to enter into any discussions (on a roadmap).

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Rugare Gumbo: No, that is not true. We have not, we merely stated our position and we hope that when our negotiators go for discussion they are taking the cue that the party has sort of set, we didn’t instruct them anything.

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Lance: But what’s the problem with mapping out a road map to have fresh elections? People ask what is ZANU PF scared of.

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Gumbo: ZANU PF are not scared of anything. I mean it’s just a simple thing. You have a GPA which was negotiated by the three parties and they all agreed that step one will be constitution making; step two was going to be the referendum; step three was elections. So what sort of new road map do we want? That’s what we are saying in ZANU PF…

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Lance: Over the last couple of weeks…

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Gumbo: …because we can’t keep negotiating.

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Lance: But over the last couple of weeks negotiators have been in Cape Town mapping out this road map. There’s actually already a draft so it seems you are already making a U-turn on this.

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Gumbo: No we are not making a U-turn. All we are saying is stick to the GPA as agreed in 2000 and, was it 2008? Yah 2008. So that’s what we are saying. How can the negotiators go and cut new road map when they themselves are the ones who did it. If there were new negotiators that would be a different matter but they are the same negotiators that keep negotiating, keep negotiating, we don’t know when is it going to end? You can’t have these things going on ad infinitum when we’ve agreed that the GPA was going to last for two years, 18 months to two years. So that’s what we are saying, please, please stick to the GPA.

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Lance: Now we’ve spoken to Jacob Zuma’s international advisor Lindiwe Zulu, they’ve clearly also stated the SADC position that they’d like something much more comprehensive in terms of reforms and hence these negotiations on the road map and there’s a feeling the GPA on its own is not adequate.

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Gumbo: Oh come on. After they had signed? After the three parties had signed? After the three principals had signed? And now they are saying it’s inadequate? What’s going on here? You know it seems we really don’t seem to understand what we want to achieve in Zimbabwe. People have an agenda you know, if people have an agenda it’s a different matter but if you want the people of Zimbabwe to have a democratic constitution, participatory constitution and if you want to have democratic, credible, peaceful and fair elections you follow what we have agreed upon.

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You know how can a negotiator keep negotiating what they have agreed upon? Negotiating what has been agreed upon? I mean it’s ludicrous. We want something written definitively, that is why we are saying let’s stick to the road map, ah to the GPA I’m sorry. Why do you want new road map when the GPA is clear as far as fundamental issues are concerned? People are bringing exigencies, eh external issues which have nothing to do with what we agreed upon initially.

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So some of us are really tired and fed up of this inventing the wheel, having a new roadmap with reforms and so on. Reforms are done by the people of Zimbabwe. Reforms are not done by outside forces. It is the people of Zimbabwe who have to institute reforms because the institutions that they have are inadequate. We understand that? Do you want people coming out, coming to run the show in Zimbabwe? We can’t accept it.

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You know we fought for this country and because we fought for this country we have to defend this country, we have to defend the institutions that we created.

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We can’t have people, some who, where, as a matter of fact sell-outs, who didn’t even fight for this country are now trying to poke their noses into our, into the affairs of the country. You know that in Zimbabwe that if you don’t have that kind of integrity, that kind of loyalty to yourself then some of us don’t really think you belong.

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Lance: But some will make the argument that ZANU PF and indeed President Mugabe, having lost the elections in March 2008 were saved by the same SADC that you are now showing a middle finger to.

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Gumbo: No, no, no, no, no, we were not saved by anybody, we saved ourselves. We didn’t, yes parliamentary, we lost but presidential we won.

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Lance: But Morgan Tsvangirai did not participate in the run-off that…

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Gumbo: He declined, he declined, the space was there, he declined so he pulled out. Why are we having Mugabe as head of state?

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Lance: Maybe because ZANU PF was able to hang onto power through violent means.

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Gumbo: Ah come on, come on, you know you talk about these violent things, violence, that’s the myth that is out there. We must demystify this kind of nonsense because it is not there, it’s absolutely ludicrous and nonsense…

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Lance: But are you denying that people died in the run up to the June 2008 run-off?

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Gumbo: I don’t know. People talk about those things. I don’t know. I don’t know whether people died or didn’t die but is it a new thing that people could die in presidential elections? How many people died in Nigeria recently? How many?

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Lance: So because people die in Nigeria, it’s OK for them to die in Zimbabwe?

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Gumbo: No, no, no, no we are saying institutions in Africa are fragile especially when it comes to elections. You know there’ll be all sorts of accusations and all sorts of figure pointing and yet the reality of the matter is that the election, the President won overwhelmingly and that is why we are saying let’s go for an election.

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You know you say ZANU PF is scared of going to the election because we have said we need to follow the GPA and MDC says that we are scared of the election. We are not scared of the elections, that is why we say if we follow the GPA, have the constitution making process completed, move onto the referendum and go to elections this year, what is wrong with that?

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Lance: It’s being argued Mr. Gumbo that your party has deployed soldiers, militias and CIOs countrywide and this is the reason why you are eager to have elections because you cannot sustain that deployment for too long a period.

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Gumbo: Look as I’m talking right now I’m in my constituency and we had a wonderful meeting, no soldiers, no nothing, we were just party members and followers and there is no MDC in my area to talk about.

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Lance: Are you denying there are soldiers deployed? …. (Interrupted)…Are you denying that there soldiers deployed? Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted as much although he said they are retired but are YOU denying there are soldiers deployed?

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Gumbo: No, I don’t know of any soldiers which are deployed. If Mnangagwa is saying so he should say so because he is the minister of defense perhaps he knows that soldiers are deployed but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t know. I think what you are mistaken in this because army officers who have retired and have decided to settle in rural areas, their home places and at the same time decided to join the party, people are saying no there are soldiers in the rural areas.

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I mean it’s not correct. The war veterans, army officers who have been in the force who go out, should be allowed to participate in the political activities of a country. It’s not a new thing. In the United Kingdom there was that general who was in Yugoslavia who is now a member of parliament in Britain. Most of the American senators, in the congress, are former war veterans or they are war veterans. So there is nothing new in this whole thing…

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Lance: Let me read out a quotation from police commissioner Augustine Chihuri last year; he said: “This country came through blood and the barrel of the gun; it can never be re-colonised through a simple pen which costs as little as five cents.” So why do we bother with elections then if this is the thinking within the securocrats?

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Gumbo: Ah yes, Chihuri is an individual; he is the police commissioner, that is his view. OK? That is his. As far as we as a party, we believe in elections, we believe that after every five years we have to go to elections, every five years we have to go for elections. We have been doing this since 1980 and we will continue doing so.

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Lance: But these are the people who are in positions of authority, these are in positions of authority, the army chiefs have said the same thing and in fact is this not why ZANU PF are refusing to have any security sector reforms?

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Gumbo: Why should you have security sector reforms? By who?

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Lance: To remove people who make irresponsible statements like this, like police commissioner Chihuri.

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Gumbo: Who should reform these security institutions? An outside force?…

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Lance: The people of Zimbabwe, the people of Zimbabwe are able to do that; the parliamentarians are able to do that, they can do that and reform these institutions and remove people who make irresponsible statements like this.

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Gumbo: Ah come on, get out. I don’t accept that kind of cheap politics. We know your radio, we know the thing which is there, it’s propaganda.…nothing more, its propaganda…

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Lance: But we are Zimbabwean journalists who are interested in seeing our homeland progress.

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Gumbo: You are Zimbabwean, you are a Zimbabwean journalist who are propagating British and American interests. That’s a fact. That’s why you are there….

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Lance: What is a British interest in a Zimbabwean wanting to see a free and fair election? What is British about that? Is wanting a free and fair election being British?

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Gumbo: You want to create a neo-colonial Zimbabwe; you want the British to come back; you want the farmers to get the land which they had taken from us illegally, these are the things which are there..we know….

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Lance: Do you have any independent radio stations that are broadcasting in Zimbabwe?

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Gumbo: We don’t.

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Lance: And why is that?

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Gumbo: Why should we have them? Why should we have them? Propagating what interest?

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Lance: So you are okay with radio stations that propagate ZANU PF’s own message?

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Gumbo: Your radio is not an independent radio.

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Lance: ZBC is independent? Is ZBC independent?

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Gumbo: ZBC is a state institution; it’s a state institution; it’s Zimbabwean; it’s a Zimbabwean institution; it’s not a pirate radio like yours.

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Lance: And why does ZBC then simply focus on a message from one political party?

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Gumbo: It’s a national institution; what MDC is doing its covered. It might be covered, it may not be covered as extensively as ZANU PF for the simple reason that the view which we have in Zimbabwe is that MDC it’s a front for the American and the British and the Americans, it was created by…..

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Lance: When you say the view that we have in Zimbabwe, is the ZANU PF view the Zimbabwean view? Is that not political intolerance Mr. Gumbo? People should surely be able to hold their views. There are those who agree with you and there are those who differ with you, should we not celebrate our differences instead of labeling each other?

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Gumbo: I agree; that is what it should be, but then you are advancing, that’s where the difference is, some of you are advancing western interests. You want regime change in Zimbabwe. You want the farmers, the former white farmers to come back.

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Lance: Give me an example, from the interview that I had with you so far, at which juncture would you say I’m advancing British interests? Point to something in this interview that you can say these are British interests.

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Gumbo: No, no question, questions of security reforms. What is it for?

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Lance: Because we have a police commissioner who is showing that he has no respect for elections and you even said those are his views so…

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Gumbo: No, no you have quoted him, I, frankly I don’t know what he said but what I know for a fact is that the police commissioner, the army, everyone is ready for elections because they, we follow the constitution of Zimbabwe and in this particular case we follow the GPA.

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Lance: OK you are pushing for early elections, does this mean these elections will come with the voters’ roll having been sorted out, the Zimbabwe Election Commission properly constituted? Are you going to be doing all these things?

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Gumbo: Of course, why not? We need to have those; we can’t have elections without those kind of things, the voters’ roll, voter education, delimitation of constituencies and so on and so forth. Those have to be done.

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Lance: Well Mr. Rugare Gumbo, thank you for your time and we hope this interview will be the beginning of more interviews as Zimbabweans tolerate each other’s differences.

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Gumbo: No, no, no, thank you very much. I always like to accommodate different opinions, that is why I’m also giving you this interview, I wouldn’t have given you this interview but I wanted you to know where we stand, where I stand, where the party stands.

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Lance: Well that was a surprise guest indeed on Behind the Headlines, ZANU PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo joining us on the programme.

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You can listen to the programme here:

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http://swradioafrica.streamuk.com/swradioafrica_archive/bth300511.wma

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