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Inside/Out with John Makumbe, author, political scientist and commentator
Kubatana.net
April 08, 2011

Full interview with John Makumbe - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words?
Bold, courageous, unflinching and very happy to be myself.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
To receive Jesus Christ as my personal saviour.

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
I bought my wife a car - a Golf - for two hundred dollars. I drove it home and she didn't like it. The vehicle could go into reverse at any time, even when it was moving forward. It was a surprise gift. She drove it and it was big trouble.

What is your most treasured possession?
My salvation.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I think to belong to ZANU PF as a member. I've been dying to say that! I think you have to be absolutely miserable to belong to ZANU PF as a member. People like Jonathan Moyo need their heads examined.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
I love watching game . . . animals. Last week I was at Chengeta Lodge in Selous. They have captive lions and I was fascinated by the power they have.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I wish I were a little taller than I am. I would be happy to be as tall as Obert Gutu, and then I would smash Patrick Chinamasa.

Interviewer: why do you want to smash him?

He's an idiot. He comes quite close to Jonathan Moyo, but at least he has the decency, when I have a quarrel with him, and we see each other out somewhere he still comes to say hello. Jonathan when he is angry with you, when he has quarrelled with you, it's permanent and forever.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I've just bought myself a Toyota Harrier for $10 000 and I could have bought myself a cheaper car and bought a car for my daughter with the money that would have been left. But I don't believe in buying children cars. I believe children must be helped to get a driver's license, my daughter got hers yesterday. She had to go to Kadoma after failing here [in Harare] four times because she would not pay a bribe. I told her I will not pay a bribe; I'm the former Chairman of Transparency International. Now when she works and gets money then she can buy a car.

What have you got in your fridge?
I don't have a fridge here in the office. At home we have two or three goats, we have polony, duck. I think we also have sausage.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear right now is that Morgan Tsvangirai might be killed. There's been already a threat; in fact it came from the soldiers. That's my greatest fear because I do not think we will have someone who is as easily popular with the voters as Morgan. Tendai Biti and Elias Mudzuri are very good, but they are not at the same level of popularity as Morgan.

Interviewer: are you familiar with the Wiki Cables? What do you think of the assessment Dell gave of Tsvangirai when he said he would be a good candidate to effect change but would not make a good leader after the change?

It's rubbish. Utter rubbish. He is a change oriented man. Dell didn't spend enough time with Morgan; he didn't look at Morgan's track record at ZCTU. He is a highly consultative person. That is what makes a good leader. He will manage the change not because he is skilled in managing it, but because he will put skilled people around himself to help manage the change. If Morgan were not like that he would be where he is today. ZANU PF has done everything they can to get rid of him.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
My keys for the office and some tissue.

What is your favourite journey?
I love flying to Johannesburg. I'm a voyager so sometimes SAA puts me in business class.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Jesus, and my wife. My late father, he was amazing. I wish I could be what he was.

When and where were you happiest?
When I was on sabbatical leave in the US, where I was guest lecturing at Michigan State University. We were very happy. We enjoyed ourselves. The snow was everywhere, my daughter and I used to ride bicycles in the snow for hours.

Interviewer: What are the students there like as compared to here?

Our students are angels. In terms of performance, we have stars. In the US you get some of the dullest students, they can hardly write a straight sentence. We always preferred to use multiple-choice questions, even for tests. In the US you work for money because as they pass you know that they know nothing.

What's your biggest vice?
Sugar.

What were you like at school?
I was very naughty. I used to be in trouble almost all the time. I was stubborn and for some reason I knew about rights already, and I would insist on my rights so I would get punished. Because I'm albino I grew up being insulted by guys and I started fighting when I was pretty young. After a while guys would still insult me but they would do it while running away. I was intelligent at school, very intelligent. I've never failed a class.

What are you doing next?
I'm taking your photo.

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