HARARE – THE ruling Zanu PF party is divided over President Robert
Mugabe’s succession, a situation that is now affecting government
business amid threats of war from the warring factions if their
preferred candidates to take over from the soon-to-be 93-year-old leader
Our senior writer Mugove Tafirenyika (Q) caught up with Zanu PF youth
league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga (A) to discuss this and other issues.
(Q) The Zanu PF youth league is leading preparations for the 21st February
Movement. How far have you gone?
(A) Preparations are now at an advanced stage after we set up provincial
and national preparatory committees. We will be having a fundraising
dinner to ensure that all the necessary logistics are in place.
(Q) What figures are you looking at raising?
(A) We used to set ourselves targets to say how much do we need for the
event but this time around, we have been alerted that the delegates will
be more than we normally have so we are just looking at raising as much as
we can to make sure that all the people are well taken care of.
Mashonaland provinces have pledged to bring about 10 000 delegates each
because of the distance from the venue while those that a closer,
Matabeleland, provinces, Masvingo and Midlands will bring more than that
so it’s going to be massive and it will require quite a lot of resources
but we are confident we will pull through.
(Q) Your critics say your choice of Matopos as the venue for this year’s
celebrations is meant to provoke the people of Matabeleland given that
some of their relatives are Gukurahundi victims who are buried in mass
(A) These allegations have unfortunately been overtaken by events. I
assume they were not in the country when our national fathers …
President Mugabe and the late vice president Joshua Nkomo took the bold
step to sign the unity accord as a way of closing that chapter.
I therefore do not think there is any patriotic citizen who would want to
open those wounds again so the opposition can say all they want but we are
We know they oppose everything that we do but we also know that it’s their
duty to oppose us.
They opposed the liberation struggle, they opposed the land reform
programme, they oppose Zanu PF when it gives inputs to farmers to revive
agriculture so they can continue to do that.
(Q) War veterans say Mugabe should relinquish power because he is too old
and that he must hand over to Mnangagwa. What is your take on that?
(A) In Shona we say haisi mhosva kurota asi hazvina kunaka kufamba
uchirotomoka (Day dreaming is not a criminal offence but it is not good
to daydream in this way) like what these comrades are doing.
It’s only their wish and it remains a wish …They think… President
Mugabe is a war veterans leader but he is a national leader and citizens
are far more than war veterans
It is unfortunate when you realise that the leadership of the war
veterans, the three or four comrades, were part of us when we campaigned
for the president in 2013 elections but now we assume they didn’t know
what they were doing.
They did not know that the terms would start in 2013 and end in 2018 and
for them to start saying before the end of his term he must hand over
power is very unfortunate. It looks like they have a short memory.
They need to be reminded that power is not handed over to anyone, it is
contested. That is the essence of the democracy that they went to war
for. We have made it clear as a party that he is our candidate for 2018
and the future and as youths we are fully behind him.
If the entire nation voted for him who are they to want to reverse that?
They think that a president is elected so that he hands over power. No it
doesn’t work like that.
(Q) I am aware you are on record saying youths want Mugabe to be life
president. But should the unexpected happen, and Mugabe is incapacitated,
who would you prefer as youths to take over from him?
(A) We cannot imagine a situation where we do not have our president but
should we be forced into that situation we would second someone with the
name Mugabe because that name is sellable. Our people have gotten addicted
to that name and they will easily vote for such a name as long as it has
been forwarded by Zanu PF.
(Q) What do you mean? That you want one of Mugabe’s relatives including
his wife and children to take over and create a dynasty of some sort?
(A) It is not secret that the youth league and the women’s league work
closely together hence we will have no problem with supporting a woman to
any position of the party including presidency as long as it is done
according to the dictates of the Zanu PF constitution and like I have
said, that person must carry the name Mugabe.
By the way it (Zanu PF constitution) does not bar women from contesting.
Our point is that we prefer to go into an election riding on the back of
the Mugabe brand. It does us good to have the name Mugabe on the ballot
paper than someone with a name say like Chipanga.
(Q) You have also vowed to take up arms if war veterans attempt to impose
Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s successor at a time they have also threatened
bloodshed. How do you intend to wage such a war given suggestions that
military chefs are said to be backing them?
(A) The aspect of the army is secondary. What is important is what the
people want. One can have the support of the armed people but our biggest
weapon is the will of the people.
As long as we will be fighting to make sure that their will is not
subverted by way of attempting to take power without going to an election
as provided for by the law, then we are guaranteed their support.
The fact that our fathers went to war to liberate this country means that
there is already a revolutionary spirit. Zimbabweans are courageous and
keen enough to liberate themselves.
Over and above that, we have got the energy and willpower to fight for
that just cause. We are further emboldened by the fact that we will all be
doing it for the sake of the commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces, the owner of the army and the arms making it even easier for us.
(Q) Are you not worried that the infighting in the party that has divided
it into two will affect your performance in next year’s elections?
(A) Zanu PF is not divided although we might have some rogue elements who
masquerade as Zanu PF spokespersons such as the likes of Energy Mutodi who
is more of a musician than a politician.
We, however, don’t take what he says as a political statement because to
us he is just a musician-turned-comedian and when he speaks we assume he
is singing a boring song being the poor musician that he is.
So we don’t take that seriously when we hear such funny characters as him
say something. He is just like Thomas Mapfumo who criticises Zanu PF and
has made a lot of negative comments about government and our president but
it changes nothing. The only difference is that Mapfumo has an established
band and Mutodi doesn’t but basically they represent the same interests.
But overally, the party is ready for elections next year and we are
confident of a landslide victory.
(Q) What is your comment regarding Mnangagwa’s “Cupgate” scandal?
(A) Let Mnangagwa answer that for himself given that he is an adult, he is
fit and alive and always available. It would not be proper for me to
respond on his behalf as if I am his spokesperson.
(Q) Zanu PF promised to create 2,2 million jobs but so far this has proved
to be a pie in the sky. How do you hope to convince the electorate, come
(A) When we promised to create jobs, it did not mean Zanu PF employing
Zimbabweans but making sure as the ruling party that conditions for
employment creation are put in place.
This includes reviving the productive sectors of the economy and genuinely
fighting corruption by public officials not pursuing individuals on the
basis of personal grudges.
The party and government is, for example, rehabilitating Kariba power
station, supporting the agricultural sector, coming up with protectionist
measures such as the import ban, meaning that if all this is done along
with other several projects, a lot of companies that have closed shop
owing to say unavailability of agricultural produce to process will start
to get raw materials so business resumes.
So I can safely say we are still on the right track.