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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Hot Seat: Debate Zanu PF’s Cairo Mhandu and MDC-T’s Luke Tamborinyoka
    Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa
    July 29, 2013

    Gonda: First of all Mr Tamborinyoka can you tell us how the campaigning is going?

    Tamborinyoka: For the MDC it is going on very well; for our president Morgan Tsvangirai it is going on very well. It is very clear that the people are going to restate their position of 2008 which is to make sure that Morgan Tsvangirai becomes president of this country. There’s a national mood for change, it’s very encouraging.

    Gonda: Mr Mhandu – how’s the Zanu-PF campaign going?

    Mhandu: Zanu-PF’s campaign is going on very, very well. In a peaceful, free and fair environment, no scenes of chaos. We are campaigning to the extent that people are accepting us as they know our background.

    Gonda: Right and Mr Tamborinyoka your party, the MDC-T, has alleged that Zanu-PF is using an Israeli company called Nikuv to manipulate the voters’ roll. Can you elaborate on this?

    Tamborinyoka: It is now in the public domain that what Zanu-PF wants and is angling for is a peaceful but rigged election. What we are seeing are shenanigans with the controversial ZEC Secretariat which took five weeks to announce the results of the 2008 appearing to be at the centre of the shenanigans. What is very clear Violet is that there was undeserved chaos during the voting of about 69000 security officers. The question that comes to mind is since ZEC cannot hold an election for 69000 people yet they now want to put an extension of a third day or more so a mere 69000, are these people ready for an election of 6.2 million registered voters? That is the question. And what started the shenanigans is when a lot of people, especially in urban areas were disenfranchised and were not allowed to register to vote.

    Gonda: But what about on this specific issue of this Israeli company Nikuv, what evidence do you have?

    Tamborinyoka: What you must know is that the MDC has supporters across the spectrum. We have supporters across the spectrum and people who are involved in these shenanigans actually telling us that there are plans to tamper with the voters roll.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu what can you say about this? Luke Tamborinyoka says Zanu-PF is angling for a peaceful election but that you are going to rig the elections. What can you say about this?

    Mhandu: Those are false allegations and if he has any evidence to that effect I think he should prove to the Zimbabweans. We have never rigged elections and we will never rig elections. You can see by the attendance of our supporters in all the rallies that his excellency president comrade Robert Mugabe addressed, the attendance has been to full capacity. People have been attending on their own without any force, without any inducement but attending willingly.

    Gonda: But what about allegations from the MDC-T and also from organizations such as the Research and Advocacy Unit who say that the voters roll seems to have been inflated with ghost voters and that in some constituencies you have more registered voters than people who actually live in those constituencies. What can you say about this Major Mhandu?

    Mhandu: Voter registration and the constituencies, all our constituencies, the 210 national constituencies, they are not the same in terms of population, they differ. The other constituencies have got more people the other constituencies have got less people but we cannot say all constituencies should have equal number of registered voters, it is very impossible and we, if anyone – those non governmental organizations, or constituents or even the MDC-T, if they have got any evidence, if they have got any evidence to prove that Zanu-PF intends to rig elections, please then come out and say this to the Zimbabweans how they have heard of such unethical way, we have never done that, we will never to do that because we are a peoples’ party.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka what can you say about this? Where is the evidence and why haven’t you submitted your evidence to the ZEC for example?

    Tamborinyoka: We have referred to ZEC. I cannot go into the specifics but what I can tell you is some of these issues are issues that were brought to the attention of ZEC, we have written many letters to ZEC and these were some of the issues that we undertake. But also to say I think it is in the public domain that even in the primary elections of Zanu-PF, the other guys, you could see that some of the disagreements in Zanu-PF are arising out of allegations of vote rigging. This is a party Violet which rigs its own elections. This is a party that has rigged its own elections. We have seen some of the Zanu-PF candidates disputing some of the figures being peddled by those who are saying that they have won. Figures of 25000 versus figures of 13000 and we have heard Zanu-PF candidates themselves making allegations of vote rigging against other candidates who are said to have won these elections. So I’m just saying that allegations of vote rigging are not mere allegations, these are things that are being said by other members of Zanu-PF itself. And of course comrade Mhandu is saying that president Mugabe has a lot of supporters, he is addressing crowds – everyone in Zimbabwe knows that president Mugabe addresses bussed crowds. These are fake crowds. He can hold two rallies a day which he is not able to do now because of his age, he’s now merely holding one provincial rally. He can hold three rallies but he will be addressing the same people – bussed, shops closed, schools closed. Zanu-PF has no capacity to address a genuine crowd which genuine crowds are being addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai, the man who won the 2008 election and who is going on to win this particular election as well.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu can you respond? You are addressing fake crowds and some of them are bussed?

    Mhandu: If we see Zimbabweans attending his excellency’s rallies, our rallies and we actually see the people and someone says they are fake then I don’t understand.

    Gonda: I think Mr Tamborinyoka is saying that you are bussing in people to these rallies, that these are not genuine Zanu-PF supporters but people from schools that are being forced to go to these rallies.

    Mhandu: I can give a specific example of a certain party that I have seen bussing people, for example the MDC in Mvurwi, when they came to Mvurwi I was actually there. There was a convoy of vehicles that do not stay in that particular area. It was almost the whole country was there. All the vehicles used by former MPs of the MDC, they came to Mvurwi so I think that’s the fact that he’s talking about. We normally organize our local provincial membership, provincial executive, provincial membership that includes the district, the cells and the branches to attend in that particular province, to attend his excellency’s rallies. We don’t bus people from another province to another province.

    Gonda: Mr Mhandu what is your party offering Zimbabweans that is different from what the MDC-T for example is offering?

    Mhandu: We have actually released our manifesto with all the offers that we are going to extend or continue to give to the Zimbabweans – to empower them as we have been doing before. It is not a new programme – to empower the youth, to empower the women, to empower the farmers, to empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe.

    Gonda: Yes how are you going to do that that’s different from what, from the promises that you’ve made in the past?

    Mhandu: We will do it using our own resources. Zimbabwe’s rich of resources so we’ll use our own resources to empower our own people.

    Gonda: How exactly, how exactly are you going to do this?

    Mhandu: We are going to use government departments or government ministries, once we are in power next week on the 1st of August, then we use our own ministries to reach to the people.

    Gonda: Yes Major Mhandu this is just sounding like it’s rhetorical. We have heard these promises in the past but what tangible evidence can you give Zimbabweans right now that Zanu-PF is going to deliver on its promises?

    Mhandu: We, number one we have community ownership trust that has been established, we have the land reform programme – our people are now enjoying farming although there was this inclusive government the support for the farmers has been locked up by the minister of Finance and we have empowered the youth projects by giving them funds through selected banks to start their own projects – there are a lot of things.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka what is your party promising Zimbabweans?

    Tamborinyoka: Our party Violet last year launched JUICE which was our jobs plan and this year we have launched our policy document and also we have launched our manifesto. Basically there are several key canons that we are speaking to: we are speaking to a change of the governance culture in the country, we are talking about a plan to create jobs, we are talking about infrastructure rehabilitation, we are talking about rejoining the family of nations once again, we are talking about social services for the people of Zimbabwe. These are some of the key canons that we are speaking to in this particular election that we are promising the people.

    Gonda: How do you plan to create jobs in a country that is bankrupt?

    Tamborinyoka: We are saying to ourselves that merely by creating a new governance culture, a new governance culture in the country we are also going to be attracting investments and also going to make sure that we revive all those industries that have folded as a result of the so-called indigenization plan by Zanu-PF. We are also talking about infrastructure rehabilitation. Merely reviving our infrastructure, creating our roads, creating our railways system, we will create a lot of jobs in the country.

    Gonda: How different are your policies from Zanu-PF especially to do with the land and indigenization?

    Tamborinyoka: What we are simply saying Violet is that we must grow the cake rather than share the small cake – we must grow the economy. It is not about sharing what is there in the country, it is not about indigenizing existing companies, it is about enlarging the cake, making sure that we grow this particular economy. Our differences with Zanu-PF is Zanu-PF say let us share what is there. Our difference with Zanu-PF is that Zanu-PF does not focus on productivity. For Zanu-PF it is a matter of people just entering into farms – now we have a situation where we are having to import food from Zambia, of all countries. A few years ago we were actually exporting, we were the bread basket in the region, now we are having to import maize from Zambia but at the same time we have people who took over these farms – the production story, the productivity story is a story that has trashed the people of Zanu-PF who have occupied these farms.

    Gonda: Well you had four years, four, five years in the unity government, how come you were not able to implement your policies during this period?

    Tamborinyoka: The MDC in the last four and a half years was in government Violet but it was not the government. One of the main reasons why the MDC entered this government was to give time out to the people of Zimbabwe, to give reprieve to people of Zimbabwe and I can tell you that our record in government in the past four and a half years speaks for itself. If you ask any Zimbabwean they will tell you the story of four years ago – that everyone was a poor zillionaire, they will tell you that the shops were empty, they will tell you that hospitals were closed, they will tell you that schools were closed and they will tell you that as a result of the MDC’s participation in this inclusive government, we gave Zimbabweans time out. And that is why you will find the people of Zimbabwe singing the song (inaudible) It was as a result of the MDC’s participation in this inclusive government that we gave them all over Zimbabwe reprieve and time out and I can tell you that the people of Zimbabwe including president Robert Mugabe and most of our cousins in Zanu-PF enjoy that after Morgan Tsvangirai joined the inclusive government in 2009.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu do you agree

    Mhandu: No I do not agree with that. The first person to introduce multi currency, the dollar, US dollar is minister Patrick Chinamasa who was then the minister of Finance. He was the first person to introduce the multi currency, through Zanu-PF, through minister Chinamasa. So we cannot say it is the MDC who brought the dollar for two, it was Mr Chinamasa who was then minister of Finance.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka what can you say about that?

    Tamborinyoka: You will recall Violet that in 2009 it was Zanu-PF which gave us this culture of zillions and gave us this culture of trillions and you will recall that even when minister Chinamasa is said to have introduced the US currency, the people of Zimbabwe themselves had moved away from the Zim dollar because it was no longer practical to continue to trade with the Zim dollar. The market had already shifted from the Zim dollar.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu a lot of people are saying that president Mugabe is 89 years old, he’s old, he’s frequently seen in meetings sleeping and that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a leader any more. What can you say about this?

    Mhandu: I will disagree with those who are of that opinion. Experience comes with age. I wouldn’t agree with anyone who says at 89 if you see or hear what his excellency has been saying, even before the liberation struggle in 1980, he has been persistent and consistent even up to now. To say because of age he no longer is capable is incapable of leading the nation that is fools. Experience comes with age, I think you agree with me Violet.

    Gonda: So what new ideas can he bring this time around that we haven’t seen in the last 33 years?

    Mhandu: We will continue with our programme that we have put together in our manifesto, it is a matter with continuing with our programme.

    Gonda: And what programme is that?

    Mhandu: It’s not empowerment, education, infrastructural development, all those things. Indigenization, we will continue with our programme, it’s not like we are starting from nowhere, we are different from those who are starting to get into politics or who intend to get into the government which they will never do.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka what can you say about this? Major Mhandu is saying age is nothing but a number.

    Tamborinyoka: Major Mhandu is saying that for example, he has just said there are people who want to get into government but we have never been in government, we are talking about people who have been in government for the past four and a half years but I also want to say Violet that president Mugabe’s age is an election issue, president Mugabe’s age is a real election issue. The is the brave 21st century and there is no way a sane electorate could elect a ninety year old for a five year term – there is no way a ninety year old can understand the brave 21st century. President Mugabe is out of his time and Major Mhandu was just talking about, I’ve heard him talking about, who collapsed all this infrastructure. It is Zanu-PF. There is no way you can expect the same party which destroyed Zimbabwe, which destroyed the economy to be able to rebuild it again. It is like expecting a mosquito to cure malaria.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu what can you say about this? You are accused of, your party’s accused of destroying the Zimbabwean economy and that people like Luke Tamborinyoka has said that you have no new ideas to resuscitate the economy. What can you say about this?

    Mhandu: I do not agree with Mr Tamborinyoka. What I can say is from our experience since 1980 when we took over from Ian Smith things have been going on very well. When these people started to create this thing called MDC – that is where sabotage came in and that’s the thing that came in to sabotage our economy against Zanu-PF policies by going the other direction instead of building, giving constructive criticism to the governing authorities they were actually conniving with the enemy to make sure the downfall of the Zimbabwean economy so that when the people feel the pinch on the economy then they can take over the government but they failed, they failed and they continue to do that. That is why I said that age comes with experience.

    Tamborinyoka: But Violet, Violet…

    Gonda: Yes? Go on.

    Tamborinyoka: The danger is to think that age always come accompanied by other things is very misplaced. Most of the time, and especially in president Mugabe’s case, age has come alone without wisdom, and without experience. We are continuing to hear, he is like an old record stuck in the same groove, we are continuing to hear what we heard in 1980, what we heard in 1985, what we heard in 1990, what we heard in 19-whatever, the Zanu-PF song is the same and they continue to see enemies, imaginary enemies elsewhere and not within Zanu-PF and to think that the MDC is an enemy of the people like what Major Mhandu was just saying it is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. They lose the last election, we are talking about a party here which won an election, a party which the majority of Zimbabweans believe is going to give them hope and progress. So which people is Major Mhandu talking about when he is saying have been betrayed by the MDC are the same people who voted Morgan Tsvangirai overwhelmingly into office in 2009.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka, what about that specific allegation that he made that the MDC has been sabotaging efforts by Zanu-PF and that you are just trying to de-campaign them, so what can you say about that? Or discredit Zanu-PF?

    Tamborinyoka: It is ridiculous to say they, sabotaging what? That is the usual Zanu-PF mantra – the same words – de-campaigning, enemy of the people with no iota of evidence. What is it that Zanu-PF wanted to do which was sabotaged by the MDC? What is it, just one example of what Zanu-PF wanted to do in the interests of the people and which the MDC sabotaged? It is just useless words, words just thrown in with no apparent meaning, this is your Zanu-PF language and Major Mhandu is just proving that he’s a typical Zanu-PF person – just making blanket allegations in the name of the people which people have since Zanu-PF and are now supporting the MDC.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu do you have any evidence or any examples that you can give to show that it is the MDC that sabotaged.

    Mhandu: That is correct.

    Gonda: Like?

    Mhandu: Thank you Violet for giving me that chance. You remember when the British failed to pay, when the British failed to compensate farmers and they took it upon themselves to embark on the land reform programme, most of the former white farmers supported MDC. You even saw it on the television, supporting MDC-T, thinking that they will eventually get into government and reverse the whole programme – that was part of sabotage but they failed. They now embrace it because they have seen that the people of Zimbabwe have embraced it. That is why, I’m not attacking MDC, but I’m saying conniving with the enemy.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka, you connived with the enemies, and in this case, white commercial farmers?

    Tamborinyoka: I have never seen such a primitive and racist remark. The way Major Mhandu says is as if there are no white Zimbabweans, it’s as if there are no white Zimbabweans. In fact talk about the issue of farms, it is no longer about compensation which he wants to take us to but to say that the whites were conniving with the MDC as if these whites are not Zimbabweans and there was no connivance whatsoever, no conspiracy whatsoever, the real story of the farms is the story of productivity. The real story of the farms is what have these so-called farmers, some of them now multiple farm owners done productive in these lands? This has nothing to do about race, this has nothing to do about race whatsoever and I can tell you there are many white people who are also Zimbabwean and to continue to talk about race in this day and age is primitive to say the least.

    Gonda: What is your party going to do with the personal attacks on your leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by president Mugabe and others?

    Tamborinyoka: We have heard that story before; it is not going to distract people of Zimbabwe from having faith in the man who gave them reprieve and who gave them time out in 2008. We’re not going to sink to the gutter Violet, we’re not going to talk, to sink in sewerage as these people are always doing. Let’s talk issues – this election is about issues, it’s about policies – it is not about Morgan Tsvangirai or any of these allegations that they want to concoct against him. So we shall not be distracted from the key issues that confront the people of Zimbabwe in this election.

    Gonda: But do you think the electorate would appreciate an apology from Mr Tsvangirai in terms of how he has conducted his personal life since his wife died?

    Tamborinyoka: What are you talking about Violet?

    Gonda: Well as we have said, as I said earlier on that president Mugabe and his wife for example have in recent days been mocking prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai about his personal life, so then I’m asking you that do you think that the prime minister should apologise to the public for example…

    Tamborinyoka: I think Violet you are just trying to rewind an old story. The prime minister last year, early last year issued a public statement about his love life, he issued a public statement saying that he had found the one he loved and he issued a public statement saying that if ever there was anyone who was hurt as he tried to search for a wife for himself then he did express his apologies to any Zimbabwean who felt aggrieved as he searched for his wife. He has already done that last year but you see the problem Violet, the problem Violet is there are other people who have no yardstick whatsoever to make any accusations against prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai who has since said that if there was anyone who was aggrieved by whatever he did as he tried to search for a new wife then he sends his apologies but we have cases Violet, we have a case, not cases, of a president who fell in love with his secretary and had a child with her while his wife was dying of a kidney ailment.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu what can you say about this?

    Mhandu: In the first place I would like to say I was not trying to be racial when I said former white commercial farmers because these were the people who had farms, no blacks had farms, otherwise they had what they called African Purchase Areas and about productivity from these new resettled farmers – how do you expect a new farmer or a resettled farmer to produce when the person who is holding the national purse who is the minister of Finance does not at all support terms of finance or funding the production or the productivity in those farms? How do you expect a poor farmer…

    Tamborinyoka: Can I answer that one Violet?

    Gonda: Okay…

    Mhandu: Can you give me time? I gave you time. How do you expect a person who is holding the national purse who is not supporting a farmer and you expect that farmer to produce and feed the nation. Just wait until after next week when Zanu-PF gets into government you’ll see how farmers are going to produce to feed the nation and actually to export. Zimbabweans are hard working people, they can produce provided their government supports them and this is where Zanu-PF comes in. Then…

    Gonda: Before you go to the question that I asked you, let’s bring in Mr Tamborinyoka to respond to the specific issue that you have raised.

    Tamborinyoka: Violet Major Mhandu is talking about one Tendai Biti who does not have anything in his national purse and in any case Biti only became minister of finance in 2009, nine years after these so-called farmers, cell phone farmers of Zanu-PF occupied these farms and for nine years Zanu-PF had the minister of finance, did he expect Biti to, who was broke anyway and still remained broke in actual fact there’s no money for elections, they want us to prioritise commercial farmers who have been on the farms for nine years with Zanu-PF holding the finance ministry. In the ninth year they still expected to be, so it’s not like these people occupied these farms in 2009 when Biti became finance minister. They occupied these farms in 2000, nine years later they still expected money to be doled out by a government just like that and these are supposed to be commercial farmers who are supposed to farm. Can someone just give us a break.

    Gonda: Major Mhandu let me come back to my earlier question – is it fair that president Mugabe is using the prime minister’s personal life as an election gimmick or a campaign gimmick?

    Mhandu: If I can go back to my fellow Mr Tamborinyoka – between 2000 and 2008 when there was a Zanu-PF government, our farmers were producing. Things became worse from 2009 when the inclusive government was inaugurated that is when the farmers started to fail to produce. However, through hard work and other means from the new farmers they have been able to produce for example tobacco, to export tobacco to a certain reasonable levels without the support of the minister of finance, without the support of the inclusive government. Then on the personal life of the leadership I have no comment.

    Tamborinyoka: Violet, Violet.

    Gonda: Yes?

    Tamborinyoka: These people are supposed to be commercial farmers. Surely can somebody explain to me how a commercial farmer, somebody who farms at a commercial scale expect government to continue to dole out resources to them nine years after they have gotten into a farm. Major Mhandu was just saying that they were receiving handouts from government and in 2009 those handouts stopped – surely how does the commercial farmer expect government to spend ten years doling out money to him when they are farming commercially. Surely if you are farming commercially you should get assistance initially, you are supposed to look after yourself. How do you expect in the tenth year to have government to continue to dole out resources to you?

    Gonda: I just have one final question to ask you both and I will start with the Zanu-PF side – will you accept an MDC victory? Major Mhandu will your party accept an MDC-T victory?

    Mhandu: I will accept a Zanu-PF victory.

    Gonda: Yes but I’m asking you specifically if what will happen if prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai was to win and his party was to win, would Zanu-PF accept defeat?

    Mhandu: I can’t even imagine that.

    Gonda: But can you answer my question? What happens…

    Mhandu: I’m answering you Violet.

    Gonda: Yes but what will happen if what happened in 2008.

    Mhandu: You want me to answer the way you want? I’m saying, I’m saying I don’t foresee MDC-T winning any election. You can even ask Tamborinyoka…

    Tamborinyoka: MDC won the election of 2008, it’s not even hypothetical. We have done it before and we are going do it again. We won an election in 2008 and president Mugabe is president because of an arrangement by SADC not by popular vote.

    Mhandu: Please Tamborinyoka make the gesture please phone me and congratulate.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka what about your party – will you accept a Zanu-PF victory?

    Tamborinyoka: It’s a hypothetical question – it’s highly unlikely but you see, in the name of a civilized party whoever wins in a free and fair environment must be congratulated and I can tell you we won an election last year and the mood in Zimbabwe is a mood for change and transformation. We are going to resoundingly beat the old man and beat Zanu -PF come next Wednesday and Major Mhandu must call me and congratulate me.

    Mhandu: That is now more realistic.

    Gonda: So are we heading for a second GNU because it would appear that the main parties will not accept if they lose so do you think we are heading for a second GNU, another coalition government?

    Mhandu: There’s no second GNU, there’s nothing like that, definitely. Violet I can promise you, I’m promising you next Thursday my young brother will definitely phone me to congratulate.

    Gonda: Mr Tamborinyoka?

    Tamborinyoka: We are tired of a donkey and a horse relationship and you know the horse I’m talking about, young and energetic and you know the donkey I’m talking about Violet. We appeal to the guarantors of the inclusive government, we appeal to SADC and African Union to respect the people’s view and to please not allow one who would have been treated in an election as happened in 2008 to come back through the back door as president.

    Gonda: Thank you very much Mr Luke Tamborinyoka and Major Cairo Mhandu for talking to us.

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