Promise Mkwananzi on Question Time

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    The Secretary General of the MDC-T Youth Assembly, Promise Mkwananzi, speaks to SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma on Question Time and tackles questions from listeners on the subject. Having been in South Africa for the SADC Summit, Mkwananzi also shares his views on its resolutions.

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    Interview broadcast 15 June 2011

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    Lance Guma: The death of a policeman in Glen View has seen over 24 MDC-T members arrested as part of a politicized witch-hunt. The Secretary General of the MDC-T Youth Assembly, Promise Mkwananzi, joins me on Question Time. Listeners were encouraged to send in their questions in advance of the interview using FaceBook, Twitter, Skype, email and text messages. Mr Mkwananzi thank you for joining us on the programme.

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    Promise Mkwananzi: Thank you very much Lance for having me on the programme.

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    Guma: OK Promise, 24 party members behind bars, most of them members of the Youth Assembly, your reaction to these developments?

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    Mkwananzi: I want to say that the developments are very regrettable and they reflect basically the failure of the rule of law system in our country led by the police who go out to arrest as many people, 24, related to the murder of one person and we have insisted in the past that the police must carry out professional investigations into the matter and bring those responsible to book not just in respect of the Glen View murder but as well as other numerous cases of politically motivated murder, assault, violence, intimidation that has taken place in our country since time 2000 going forward.

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    Guma: I see here spectacular developments, they are even arresting Councillor Warship Dumba, the councillor for Mount Pleasant of all places, being accused of murdering this policeman.

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    Mkwananzi: Yes I do see the pattern that you can see yourself, Councillor Dumba is on record for having resisted the machinations of Comrade Chombo at local level in the Council specifically and for having opposed corruption and did his best to expose the corruption which we see at Council as well as at the broader Local Government and definitely his arrest doesn’t come as surprise. It is the same pattern whereby those that have spoken against the evils of our society are at the forefront of being persecuted by the regime of Robert Mugabe.

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    Guma: One of our listeners, Knowledge, sends us an email asking you to clarify what happened in Glen View as far as your information is concerned.

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    Mkwananzi: The information which we have gathered so far indicates that there was indeed an altercation in Glen View on the said date and relating to the late police officer, but what we hear is that there was a misunderstanding between the police and members of the public that were drinking beer in a bar and that misunderstanding culminated into I think, a violent exchange between the police and the members of the public which led to the unfortunate and untimely death of the police officer.

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    Guma: Your detractors are saying you clearly command a lot of support in the urban centres so by the law of probability those youths are MDC-T youths.

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    Mkwananzi: I think those assertions are unfounded as they are regrettable. The reality is that we must not assume the fact that the MDC has the majority of support in the urban areas therefore the person that died was killed by an MDC activist; I don’t think that reflects a true and real spirit of justice that we know and that is why I repeated that the police must carry out a proper investigation, a professional investigation of the murder and bring those responsible for the murder to book.

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    Guma: It’s claimed police are also looking for you and the Youth Assembly Chairperson Solomon Madzore and some reports even suggest both of you are currently in hiding. How far true is this?

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    Mkwananzi: What is true in the statement you have just said is that the police are looking for us; what is not true is that we are in hiding. But what we have said is that because of the failure of the rule of law system in our country it is impossible for us to surrender ourselves to the police.

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    I think you know what has happened to Last Maengahama and others when, in detention at the moment, they have been tortured before they have even been proven guilty so that is why we have not submitted ourselves to the police. But I can tell you that our lawyers are working out and they will soon be approaching the police to hear really why the police are looking for us.

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    Guma: Some people like Peter Handina on FaceBook are accusing MDC-T of allowing ZANU PF to patronise them and insist that security sector reforms are needed without fail. Do you agree you as a party have allowed ZANU PF to patronise you and do as they please?

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    Mkwananzi: No I don’t agree. We have I think, done our best in very, very difficult circumstances to bring ZANU PF in line with what Zimbabweans aspire for and you will note that in government where we do not have a controlling stake, we have done so much to ensure that we have critical reforms; if you look at the Ministry of Finance, if you look at the reforms which have been introduced in parliament that are still on-going, if you look at the reforms which we are introducing in the media, in the rule of law, in POSA, AIPPA and others.

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    It’s more of a process than an event and it’s a protracted process arising out of the fact that we are fighting an entrenched regime which is resisting, kicking and screaming to adhere to the rule of the people of Zimbabwe.

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    Guma: Arnold on FaceBook says you were recently in South Africa for the SADC Summit that dealt with the Zimbabwean crisis this past Sunday. Reports suggest there were clashes between youths from both MDC formations, ZAPU and Mthwakazi. Can you shed light on what happened since you were there?

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    Mkwananzi: Yes indeed, what we did ourselves as the MDC was to say look let’s allow this to be a people process, let the people drive the process, let’s show SADC that it’s not the MDC which is making these demands but it is the people of Zimbabwe and in accordance with that principle, we took a back stage from the processes.

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    That doesn’t mean that our supporters were not there. They were there and enmasse they were disciplined and they were going out there in their ordinary capacity as citizens of Zimbabwe to demand SADC to act in accordance with the principles which they have laid down in their own pacts and protocol.

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    But unfortunately in the process, members of a group called Umthwakazi then started burning MDC t-shirts and I’m told started even firing tear gas to people that were gathered at the venue to showcase their dismay of the failure of SADC to handle the case of Zimbabwe.

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    Guma: So are you laying the blame squarely on Mthwakazi, saying they caused the problems in South Africa?

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    Mkwananzi: Mthwakazi specifically burnt t-shirts which belonged to our party.

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    Guma: And you are suggesting this is what created the fracas?

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    Mkwananzi: That was the fracas, it’s not what created the fracas, it was the fracas.

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    Guma: Much has been made about some of this friction in South Africa; I don’t know having spent some time there, what you make of it, the relationship between the groups Mthwakazi, ZAPU and the two MDC formations there? Do you think there’s a culture of intolerance there that needs to be eradicated?

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    Mkwananzi: I must say with regret that the relations within those groups which you mentioned are not as rosy as they should be and I think as leadership we did our best, at least from the perspective of our party, to talk to our people and to insist that we must be disciplined, we must be non-violent and we must be tolerant of views that are divergent to others. So I think going forward, we are going to see changes within the MDC which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai in terms of the behaviour of our supporters in South Africa.

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    Guma: What did you make of the Summit in general and do you think it achieved anything?

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    Mkwananzi: I think it is very welcome that the Summit did endorse the Livingstone resolutions of March 31st. Its a significant step forward and as the Youth Assembly has already written in a statement saying they commend the principled stance which SADC took and which SADC continues to take but we challenge SADC particularly on the implementation side of things to ensure that Resolution 24, Article 24, that resolution is followed up with speed.

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    That is the Article which talks about the appointment of a staff compliment from the SADC countries to come and compliment the work of JOMIC and ensure that the implementation of the processes are expedited and that we begin as soon as possible to lay the foundation for a democratic free and fair, credible election.

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    Guma: Now you say the Summit endorsed the Livingstone Resolutions; ZANU PF clearly are holding a different view saying the word used there was ‘noted’ and not ‘endorsed’.

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    Mkwananzi: Yes they are words but you would note that when Dr Solomao then addressed the conference after the Summit he was asked to clarify and he was quite clear in terms of what the Resolution spelt out in terms of the actual meaning of that Resolution is that they ‘uphold’ the Resolutions of the SADC Summit and that secondly the whole SADC Summit which took place in Jo’burg is, it does not have power to review what had taken place in the organ for politics and defence which is governed by a separate treaty, the main SADC Summit, I hope you get what I’m saying.

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    Guma: Yah you think what you essentially are saying is that ZANU PF are simply playing with words?

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    Mkwananzi: ZANU PF are lying. It is dishonest, it is untrue what ZANU PF has sought to portray, they tried to do it immediately after the SADC Summit when George Charamba addressed the media saying that the meeting had rejected the Resolutions, the Livingstone Resolutions. But I can tell you that immediately after Jonathan Moyo, after George Charamba addressed, Lindiwe Zulu came and clarified that the position which had been expressed by George Charamba was not a true reflection of what had transpired in the SADC Summit meeting.

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    Guma: Now this whole propaganda war over the use of this word ‘noted’ and ‘endorsed’, some are saying, or some are expressing disappointment with the communiqué saying the communiqué does not capture the entirety of the deliberations during the Summit and that the communiqué was rather watered down. Do you share that view?

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    Mkwananzi: Yes I would agree but the thing is this is a diplomatic forum and you don’t want to antagonise the other party by really making them feel embarrassed by what is happening and I think that is the most important point which people must note.

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    What is important is not the wording but the content and the process that arises out of that process, particularly the Item 24 which I referred to whereby SADC is moving in a concrete way by appointing additional staff to come and assist JOMIC to set out timelines, to monitor and evaluate the reforms that are related to the fulfilment of the GPA and ultimately to lay the ground for free and fair elections. I think, to me, it was a very positive Resolution and it was a very firm stance taken by SADC. Where I see the problem is on the implementation and follow-up side.

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    Guma: We have a question from Ben who is in Bulawayo and essentially he wants to know in terms of the SADC Summit and the way things are progressing, does it mean we are now reliant on SADC for our political solutions and nothing will come from any other process?

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    Mkwananzi: Absolutely not, that would be the height of naivety. We have said in the Youth Assembly that we are preparing for people to vote, we are going to go out of our way to capture the first-time voters, to mobilise young people to register to vote and to come on the voting day to vote. But not only that we are also coming up with a plan to ensure that sooner (inaudible) should ZANU PF leave, should ZANU PF lose and refuse to leave power, we must have a way and a plan to defend the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

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    Guma: My final question for you Mr Mkwananzi is just a reflection on the relationship between the MDC-T Youth Assembly and the Ministry of Youth led by the ZANU PF MP for Mt Darwin, Saviour Kasukuwere. You wrote a letter to him last time, what was it about?

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    Mkwananzi: Basically, it’s about three issues; the first issue relates to the Zimbabwe Youth Council. We said that the Zimbabwe Youth Council must open up the democratic space to allow for youths from all walks of life to be able to participate, to be able to access the Empowerment Fund regardless of their political affiliation, that is what we have said and we have said that they must as well be more consultative on the process of formulating the youth policy, or reviewing the (inaudible) policy.

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    We do feel there that the Zimbabwe Youth Council is operating in a closed way, they are not reaching out to young people particularly those that are perceived to be sympathetic to the opposition and we want that to be resolved, including the fact that we are not getting enough feedback from the Zimbabwe Youth Council as the MDC, as a party which is a stakeholder in that Ministry.

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    The second thing relates to what Kasukuwere called the Youth Development Officers; there are about 7000 of them that are employed by the Ministry of Youth. We do not know what they are doing and we do see them as part of the ghost workers in the civil service because they are being paid about 165 dollars a month and they don’t do anything, we don’t know what they are doing and we hear that there are plans that they want to use them as monitors in the coming elections because they think that teachers and other civil servants are not sympathetic to ZANU PF.

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    And the last thing is the resurgence of the youth militia and the training institutions which continue to train the youth militia despite the position taken by government, that the problem of national service must be reviewed and then begin in a professional rather than a partisan manner. Those are the three issues which we have with the Ministry of Youth.

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    Guma: Any chance of any of them being addressed or it’s one of those ZANU PF things where you will say it and they will not move an inch?

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    Mkwananzi: We have written a letter to them and I think we have not received any response but I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in following up on those issues and ensuring that the ghost workers within the Ministry of Youth, the Zimbabwe Youth Council and the rest of the issues which I have alluded to are addressed in an effective way as we move forward.

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    Guma: I had said final question; let me just add one more question we’ve just received via text message right now – previously there were attempts to get all the party youths to take part in some anti-violence campaigns between the political parties. I don’t know which donors were sponsoring this particular initiative – anything on the horizon in terms of this right now?

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    Mkwananzi: Yes part of the things which are being done are still at a preliminary stage, not so significant as to speak about but I can assure you of two things. Number one that our MDC-T Youth Assembly is open to that kind of dialogue, we are very much positive and looking forward for the other parties to come on board so that we can together condemn violence and speak to the issues which affect young people going forward. The second thing is that we do see that obviously from the other things particularly ZANU PF there is some hesitance to come on board and undertake such a process.

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    Guma: Well Zimbabwe that’s the Secretary General of the MDC-T Youth Assembly, Promise Mkwananzi joining us on this edition of Question Time. Mr Mkwananzi, thank you so much for your time.

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    Mkwananzi: Thank you very much Lance, thank you to all your listeners, good day.

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    To listen to the programme:

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    http://swradioafrica.streamuk.com/swradioafrica_archive/qt150611.wma