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Seat: Interview Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone
SW Radio Africa
March 05, 2013
SW Radio Africa
journalist Violet Gonda’s guest on the Hot Seat Programme
is co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone, with her assessment
of the general state of affairs regarding security in Zimbabwe.
She has in the past accused the police of being partisan towards
ZANU PF - why has she not resigned from her job if she is powerless
to act? Find out why the Home Affairs Minister feels the 2013 elections
will be ‘bloodier” than the violent
GONDA: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is the co-Home
Affairs Minister, Theresa Makone. Let me start by asking you for
your thoughts on the general state of affairs in the country regarding
MAKONE: Until very recently we had all bought into the
idea of a peaceful Zimbabwe, especially after all the pronouncements
that the President has been making. Without fail we were all convinced
that this was going to be an election with a difference and what
has been happening of late has been a rude awakening for all of
us gullible Zimbabweans. It is quite clear that the kind of violence
we are going to see this time is probably going to be at an unprecedented
scale. I’m saying this because this is the very chance that
the two MDCs and Zanu PF were supposed to be campaigning together,
preferably on the same platform for a YES
vote at the referendum, but it would look like the referendum
is not going to happen; that the other party has already gone into
its default position which is power at all costs, never mind that
we have got something that we have in common. I personally would
not be surprised to hear that we won’t have a referendum after
all and everybody is now being catapulted into a rushed election,
which would have had to follow a referendum.
So, if you ask me what
I think – I think I am in a state of hopelessness, a state
of disappointment and a feeling of betrayal because I think that
when people have shared a cabinet room for four years, you must
be in a position to look at each other in the eye and tell each
other the truth. The role that the police played is dictated by
the role that Zanu PF plays in different areas. To me it looks like
- yes instructions were given to teach people in the considered
area that is criminal to support MDC but at the same time, I strongly
believe that the Zanu PF leadership in that constituency (Headlands)
would put pressure on the police not to act or react and try to
downplay the death of a person as if it is nothing.
By the death of a person, you are talking about 12 year old Christpower
Maisiri who was allegedly killed
Yes. While we speak free and fair elections by day, at night we
are talking win at all costs, even if it means repeating or exceeding
the violence of 2008.
GONDA: How bad is the situation in the police force
The rank and file takes instructions from the top but how far to
the top do you go because the Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri
on matters of operations, he answers to the President of the country
and the ministers only pronounce policy. So between the two of them
I don’t know who is not doing their job because if I was the
state President I would insist on knowing why we are having these
parts of violence with no-one really being arrested or tried.
As Home Affairs Minister, what have you done to find out where these
instructions are coming from?
Well we have meetings with the police and only last week we called
the Commissioner General in and we talked to him – when I
say we I mean Kembo Mohadi and myself – we talked to him about
the perception out there of police brutalizing civilians, possibly
under political pressure and we cited Matabeleland North and Lupane
in particular. This was following the arrest of people who had come
to register for voting and he gave us an undertaking that this was
going to be his best policing - that there would be no nonsense
as happened in 2008. But within a few days we get a child being
burnt to ashes because his father is an MDC official and it took
the police more than eight hours to get to the scene and yet the
police station is not far away.
So I think that in line
with the Zanu PF position, which is that the party is bigger than
the state, the instructions from the party are taken more than those
from government. So if the policy is don’t arrest, they won’t
arrest. As long as the person who gives the instruction is more
senior and in this case the senior person of the constituency is
Didymus Mutasa so obviously what he says is what goes. So all the
denials and all the threats of suing to me mean nothing. They will
only make sense when Zanu PF switches off its violence machinery.
We have come a long way, four years later to be still doing this
sort of thing.
If this is the case, as Minister of Home Affairs can you take legal
proceedings against people like the Commissioner General Augustine
Chihuri or even Didymus Mutasa the Minister of State in the President’s
Office - as you said he has also been accused of being a perpetrator
It is unprecedented; in fact there are no such procedures that a
Minister will take their own ministry to court because if I sue
the Commissioner General and the police, I’m literally suing
myself because I am the person responsible and if anyone else in
the state of Zimbabwe is suing Commissioner General, the ministers
are the first and second respondents and then the Commissioner General
is the third respondent -so technically it’s not even a possibility.
Those people who are aggrieved can sue us, but there is no way I
can go and put my case against myself.
But isn’t that the worst kind of insult though for the victims?
You have already said one of the culprits is Minister Didymus Mutasa
and you are then seen working with him in government? So how do
you respond to people who ask why you keep working with people you
know are perpetrators of violence?
What would they be expecting us to do at this stage, two months
before a general election?
GONDA: This has been going on for a very long time and…
MAKONE: It has, it has, I agree with you except
that we cannot every day that we come out of cabinet tell you the
kind of wars and battles that take place in there almost on a daily
basis, it would be too tedious. Because of the secrets of cabinet,
as a cabinet minister you cannot go out and start saying all the
things that you say in the cabinet but I can tell you it has never
been a pleasant place to be in. It’s been a war zone from
day one to this day.
So what would you say you have achieved if you are powerless and
would it not have been better to step down in protest?
MAKONE: Because that is exactly what they expect
me to do. I’m expected to walk away and to surrender because
Zanu PF has no conscience, it won’t stop anything. If I am
given the two options – stand and fight or to turn and run
- I would sooner stand and fight because by running away you’re
just giving them free play. There are so many things that could
have happened that didn’t happen because I’d taken a
stand. They are violent and everyone knows it. And if we had not
stared at them in their eyes and stood our ground, things could
be much worse than they are now.
Well we’ve received quite a lot of emails from Zimbabweans
who are concerned that the situation seems to be volatile right
now. If I can just read to you one particular email from one of
our listeners, Simudzai, and basically he says I want to check with
you if Theresa Makone made any comment or condemned this incident
regarding the 12 year old boy? She is said to be related to Didymus
Mutasa, the alleged sponsor of violence in Headlands. Is this true?
MAKONE: Well for a start I’m in my hospital
bed right now as I’m speaking to you. I had an operation done
on Monday before that incident took place. It’s only today
I’ve started following things because I’ve been heavily
sedated and as I’m speaking to you, I’m still in my
hospital bed, I only leave on Friday. So there’s only so much
one woman can do but I know that my colleagues went to cabinet yesterday,
did whatever needed to be done and I’m sure that now that
the President is talking about having those perpetrators found and
arrested, it is as a result of that fight but whatever his name
is, you can tell him that the minister said I’m just a normal
being like anybody else, when I’m sick I’m sick and
I can’t be in two places - under the theatre table and fighting
the police at the same time. What was the last part of his question?
About being related to Didymus Mutasa.
MAKONE: I don’t know how many times I’m
going to say this – I have no relationship of any kind with
that man except that he was in Birmingham at the same time as Ian
and I were in Birmingham, and we had our daughter at Birmingham
Hospital and his wife helped me with the delivery. That’s
the end of the relationship. What I did when Mutasa’s son
was arrested is what I should have been able to do in all the things
that followed afterwards, including the arrest
of the 31 MDC activists, but I was not able to do it anymore
because of this big outcry about Mutasa’s son – ‘because
they are related and whatnot’ - but that was nonsensical because
it’s not every day that you get a Zanu PF person being arrested.
So the public made it very clear that they were agreeing with the
Police Commissioner General who said that I had no business in the
police station. So I stay away from now on. Now what do they want
me to do?
GONDA: Obviously a lot of people want the violence
to stop and… (Interrupted)
MAKONE: So do I.
…especially as we have two major elections coming. So in terms
of trying to find ways of stopping this violence as Home Affairs
minister, what role does the Human Rights Commission for example,
play in this kind of situation?
Well the aggrieved parties are expected, if the police don’t
act, to go and report their case to the Human Rights Commissioner.
For me it’s a very circuitous route. By the time you get redress
it will be long, long after the action has been taken. What to me,
in these circumstances would be better is – once something
like that happens, the police immediately react, the people are
apprehended and put before the courts. It’s going to take
forever for Mr. Maisiri to go and find where the officers on the
Human Rights Commission. Has the Human Rights Commission started
work at all? Do they have offices and if so where? By that time
you will just be expending yourself for a very, very little result.
So I don’t know. We must think before we act sometimes and
people make the ministers lives very difficult.
When the police don’t
respond it’s my fault and I take that because it’s my
department but when I do respond, then I’m interfering with
the course of justice - so I don’t know how this is supposed
GONDA: So how do you think you can force the police
to respond, especially when they don’t even listen to you?
It’s not a question of they don’t listen to me because
no minister in any government talks to people below their departmental
head, it’s just not done, nowhere in the world does that happen.
It’s our legislation, which was made purposefully for that
purpose so that the President has got the power to act on a daily
basis in direct communication with the Commissioner General - excluding
the Minister of Home Affairs. This is why in the past, even before
of the GNU, you never heard Mohadi making a statement or talking
to anybody because the legislation is such that the ministers are
not even in the loop. Suddenly we have started talking because I
deliberately made a point of circumventing that and making comments
when I shouldn’t; making myself very unpopular with the police.
But at the same time not following that procedure because you have
got to make sense once in a while. You can’t just sit and
watch but the legislation is made like that and it is for all the
So all the security
ministers are just ministers who pronounce policy but don’t
get involved with the day-to-day process, they don’t give
any direct command and you can’t say a particular ministry,
minister is powerless, actually he is disempowered by the law. That
is the constitution of this country as of now.
So basically at the end of the day the buck stops with the president?
Exactly, exactly. That’s where the people should be getting
their answers because he is the one who directs day-to-day operations
according to the law.
GONDA: Well the president has called for peace
– what do you make of those statements?
MAKONE: Oh well, that’s where we want a new
constitution to start with. It’s one thing having a constitution
and quite another following that constitution and we want people
to be spared the roughness of the previous elections so that they
are allowed to actually vote in peace and see which party they would
rather have in a government. Under this three-headed animal, as
the president calls it, it’s not going to be possible; it
is not going to be possible. But we were rather naively expecting
Zanu PF to be embarrassed to continue killing people that they sit
with in cabinet. We thought at some stage they would examine their
conscience and do the right thing and to be quite honest with you
- I said it two years ago and I’ll say it again - this election
is going to be bloodier than 2008. The makings of a horror election
are there in front of us for all to see. The odd place is bombed,
the odd place is into raping, murder, arson – this is meant
to prime people to remind them of what they are capable of doing.
If you are saying that the violence is going to be worse than the
2008 elections violence, why are you putting up with this? You can
easily walk out for example, walk out of cabinet or… (Interrupted)
MAKONE: And how would that help the country?
GONDA: Or why not name and shame them then? Why
don’t you name and shame the perpetrators?
We did all the time.
So in government are you saying that Didymus Mutasa is the only
one who is doing it? Because so far he is the only one you’ve
mentioned in this interview for example.
Yah it’s only because this particular one happened in his
constituency and happened at this particular moment but there’s
so many other things that Zanu PF ministers are doing which we are
confronting them with on a daily basis in cabinet…
Can you give us an example?
I cannot and the reason I cannot is because it has not gone public.
We are required to keep state secrets so if it has not been publicized
the only other person who can reveal that is the prime minister.
GONDA: The organization Aids Free World say the South African
government has opened investigations into rape allegations leveled
against Zanu PF supporters – you know those people who are
said to have raped during the 2008 elections, what are the implications
of this from an MDC point of view?
MAKONE: We welcome it and we encourage it. This
is going to tell people, the resilience of the party, what we’ve
had to put up with to be where we are, nowhere in the world do people
go as far as Zanu does and now that the South African government,
through its courts has been forced to reveal and investigate because
they are signatories to the ICC, Zimbabwe is not, and they are required
to take certain actions. We are looking forward to those actions
being taken because it is about time people started behaving like
people not barbarians when you are going into an election. This
happens because the security sector has been forced into a situation
where they have to support even the unsupportable and I think this
investigation should be followed to its bitter conclusion whether
Zanu PF likes it or not, people should be arrested and the necessary
steps should be taken.
GONDA: But I understand that in calling for peace the prime
minister appealed to Zanu PF ministers - during that explosive cabinet
meeting we heard about - and I understand that he actually appealed
to the Zanu PF ministers to stop the violence telling them that
the MDC will not have a retributive agenda. So he was basically
appealing to them to stop the violence if they were thinking that
they were doing it to stay in power. So with what you’re saying,
isn’t there a contradiction here?
MAKONE: When I was not in cabinet yesterday I was
just giving you my personal thoughts. If the prime minister doesn’t
want them prosecuted then that’s his position. I was giving
my personal reaction to this and I will say it again – if
anyone raped, if anyone killed and the ICC require South Africa
to act then they should follow the signatures to the papers that
they signed as members of ICC. As far as I’m concerned because
I’m a woman, if I was raped I would want justice – make
no mistake about that. The only time I would think maybe let’s
push this thing into the past is if this election was different,
was handled differently by Zanu PF and do all the things that we
have agreed should be done, then I would say well maybe there is
merit for not taking this issue forward. But what we are seeing
now are the tell-tale signs of even more horrors coming and in the
face of that, how do we then say to people keep on murdering but
we will not be taking you to court.
I mean for me
it defies logic but it doesn’t mean that everybody in that
party is bad, there are quite a few MPs that one can mention and
in their particular constituencies, there were no deaths, nothing
happened, they just won the election freely. So we know who the
perpetrators of violence are. We can’t possibly say that the
whole party is violent. Look at what happened in Mashonaland East
and see how many people were killed in Marondera. Look what happened
in Mash Central…You can literally look at the map of the country
and see where, but I don’t want to be forced to start naming
names right now because I don’t think that was the purpose
of this interview. What I’m saying if you want to know who
are the perpetrators just look at that list and it will tell you.
GONDA: So how do you respond to critics who say
that there is nothing that can actually be done about violence in
Zimbabwe given what we have seen in the last elections but that
what you have to do is to develop strategies to combat it? Do you
MAKONE: Well I don’t know what plans they
have of combating. We definitely know that we have one particular
agenda and ours is a non-violent method of responding to the murderers,
to the arsonists, to the rapists, which is to expose their actions
and hope that our neighbours in SADC and African Union in general,
begin to force Zanu PF to behave like modern democracy.
GONDA: You say the African Union should force Zanu
PF to stop the violence but how can they do that?
MAKONE: Well in the same
way they refused to accord Robert Mugabe the presidency in 2008
after the elections. They simply refused to accept the result from
Zimbabwe and that was enough to de-legitimise a stolen election
forcing the three parties to come together and thrash it out at
the negotiating table and for a whole year this country went without
a cabinet. If the African Union had not reacted the way it did,
we wouldn’t be where we are today.
But that was a reaction after a violent election so I’m asking
what can they do right now before.
Right now they should be talking to the president of Zanu and telling
him to stick to the letter and spirit of the GPA, failing which
they would have to pronounce what kind of steps they are going to
take because obviously Zimbabwe cannot operate like an island; we
are part of a continent, we are landlocked. All sorts of actions
can be taken against this government and if need be then that is
what should be done and that should be done by the Africans themselves,
not waiting for people from Spain and Italy to come and fight our
But as the MDC what can you do outside what the international or
regional community can do?
Well as MDC we can fight in court, we can fight via the public media
and you know very well that there’s been issues to do with
radios and phones – this is their way of stopping us from
communicating with our followers in Zimbabwe and for us it was a
way of countering Zanu Broadcasting Corporation and this has not
worked. And then this week I think the minister in the Prime Minister’s
Office did a letter scheduling all the actions of Zanu PF in the
recent past, and we wait for their reaction. And quite honestly
apart from talking directly to your people and telling them what
they are setting themselves again by voting Zanu PF back and talking
to your neighbours, the only other option is fighting and for us
that is not an option. It’s not even on our agenda.
What’s your reaction to statements that were made by vice
president Joyce Mujuru saying that Zimbabwe will not allow international
observers from hostile countries?
MAKONE: I personally
and I know that the whole party does not subscribe to that. We have
nothing to hide as MDC, there is nothing that cannot be open to
scrutiny so people can come from any place on earth and observe.
But at the end of the day isn’t it true that Zanu PF will
have the final word on this whether or not the MDCs agree.
Well the rule in this country and the constitution in this country
says that the president of the country is the one that controls
the security sector and that is in black and white. It’s not
meant for MDC only, it’s meant for the whole country and if
the president of this country says no, then it’s a no. It
doesn’t matter whether the president is Tsvangirai or Mugabe.
And if the president has got a party with something to answer I
do not see him allowing people to come and observe him.
With just a few months before general elections, do you think this
coalition government was worth it especially given what you have
told us in this interview?
It was never going to be 100%. There were things that we badly needed
to come out of this. Some we got, some we didn’t get. As far
as I’m concerned, what we pushed for – a constitution
– we got that constitution which as far as we are concerned,
if implemented, will change the character of this country beyond
recognition and that is if there is a government, which is constitutional
in behaviour. But if we have got a government that has never been
following constitutionalism then it won’t make a difference
because for us fighting was never an option. The very first few
days after the formation of this government, we walked out and there
was a big outcry of ‘why did you walk out, go and fight, we
know that it is not easy but it’s better that things are done
and you are present and you are defending us than to stay outside’,
and we responded and we went back into government. So towards the
end of term you can’t then say I wish I had not said no. We
walked out and our party told us to go back in and we are there
because the people that elected us wanted us to be in that playing
field and we played the ball as well as we could and we hope that
the few changes that have happened – having medicine in hospital,
having food in the shops, having a few doctors, specialists –
I’m here because not because I can’t afford to go anywhere
– as a minister of the Republic I could have gone anywhere
for treatment but I opted to be treated at home because all our
experts are beginning to make their way home and some are already
And we tried to control
inflation and the economy is ticking somewhat, better than zero
growth, better than negative growth so those are the things we feel
we have managed to do for the country. We have stopped it going
over the precipice just in time and if that was not enough for people
then people should have to remember that when this thing falls apart
and the government falls back into violent hands and the world shuns
us, we are going to be exactly where we were in 2007 if not worse.
Thank you very much Mai Theresa Makone for talking to us on the
programme Hot Seat especially as you are in hospital. Hope you feel
Thank you very much Violet.
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