Gift Phiri 12 January 2018
HARARE – Our news editor Gift Phiri sits down for a wide-ranging interview
with the presidential candidate for the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) – an
alliance of six opposition political parties about the forthcoming 2018
Find below, excerpts of the interview.
Q: You have been nominated to be the flag bearer or presidential candidate
for CODE – one of three coalitions standing in the 2018 polls.
Where is your point of departure with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC
Alliance and the Joice Mujuru-led People’s Rainbow Alliance?
A: There are four main points of departure. The first and most critical is
that CODE realises that the presidential powers are concentrated at one
centre thereby creating a constitutional dictator.
Therefore CODE created a Supreme Council to cover those powers that
infringe on the liberties and freedoms of people and avoid the president
from carrying out personal vendettas and capturing critical State and
independent institutions like Zec and other commissions.
The other alliances have one centre of power like Zanu PF.
CODE will ensure Zimbabwe will not create another dictator.
The second is that CODE is open to all parties that want to be bound by
principles and values and therefore inclusive, whilst the others are an
exclusive club with a Big Man who decided who can become a member of the
Club. In essence all the Alliance members were handpicked and there was no
room to even gate crush.
The third is that CODE deals with the issues and focus on providing
solutions that are inflicting the people of Zimbabwe.
The Alliance focuses on personalities and positions as to who gets where.
CODE therefore puts issues, principles and values ahead of personalities.
To resolve Zimbabwe’s problems the current system must be changed and not
simply substituting the personalities whilst the system remains intact.
The fourth is the way candidates are chosen to represent the
constituencies. CODE believes in allowing the most capable and popular
candidate to represent the people, i.e. the candidates must come from the
The leaders of the Alliance, on the other hand decide who they want to
represent, hence sharing the constituencies amongst themselves.
The CODE system allows for democracy to be practiced. All the CODE
candidates will contest under one name CODE, one symbol -so no one can
tell which party the candidate comes from.
This not only brings oneness but also kills the big man syndrome and
allows the pooling of votes for the proportional representation candidate
in Parliament and Provincial Councils.
Q: Tell us about CODE.
A: CODE is a Coalition of the following political parties: African
Democratic Party (ADP) led by Marcellene Chikasha Muchemwa, Mavambo Kusile
Dawn (MKD) led by Simba Makoni, Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ)
led by Barbara Nyagomo, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) led by me,
Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU) led by Dumiso Dabengwa, and
Zimbabwe First (ZimFirst) led by Maxwell Shumba.
The main objective is to provide leadership to resolving the complex
challenges facing the nation so as to achieve a united, democratic,
prosperous, just and peaceful Zimbabwe. Make Zimbabwe a fully respected
member of the community of nations and play a leadership role in the
development and integration of Africa.
Q: What will you do differently if you are elected?
A: CODE will reduce the presidential powers to avoid creating a new
CODE will give space, protection and resources to strengthen State
institutions like Zec, the Judiciary system, Anti Corruption Commission,
etc. so that they serve all Zimbabweans equally.
CODE will vigorously fight Corruption.
CODE will give people their freedom with the immediate gestures being the
repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy ACT (Aippa).
Allow as many TV and radio stations and newspapers as possible. They will
stand and fall as businesses.
CODE will ensure that every child goes to school. Improve healthcare
systems and declare war on communicable diseases like TB, HIV/Aids,
CODE will revamp the economy to make the economy a low cost producer of
quality products, stabilise the economy, and resolve the currency and
liquidity issues so that people get their cash. Leverage existing
enterprises and resources for the economy to create jobs.
CODE will reform State Enterprises so that they spearhead economic revival
and provide cost effective services to the country. Disposal will be a
last resort and only after they have been worked on.
CODE will embark on nation building, pay compensation to the victims of
Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, the Democratisation struggle, fast track land
reform and carry out national healing programmes.
CODE will implement devolution. CODE will refocus the mindset of
Zimbabweans to bring back oneness, Ubuntu and self-belief, a one nation
destined to be the leader of Africa.
CODE will unleash the potential of Zimbabweans, getting them to be the
best they can be for themselves, their families and their country, and to
compete against the best in the world across all spheres of human
CODE will welcome Zimbabweans from the Diaspora and make it seamless for
those with foreign qualifications. All skills will be put to good use. To
be easily recognised back home.
CODE will empower women, youth and the physically challenged through
skills training, logistical provision, Market access, enterprise training
and access to capital through loans, grants and venture funds.
The disabled will lead independent fulfilling lives and not continue to be
subject of pity and social welfare.
Q: Why are you a better choice than your opponents?
A: I will be focusing on delivering and solving the economic problems
rather than dwell on power politics. I will champion the dilution of
presidential powers and be guided by values and principles.
I have a record of selflessly serving others from a very young age.
For instance I worked to increase the number of black chartered
accountants by the then largely white international firms. I have served
in social committees, student committees and school development
Has an impeccable record as a member of Parliament for Makoni North.
Worked with the community to build a mortuary, teachers housing, establish
four new secondary schools, built 11 classroom blocks, repaired 3 clinics,
paid school fees for many pupils and brought a sense of community.
I trained as a chartered accountant, the profession known for the very
high level of ethical standards. I uphold those ethics. I fight
Had the opportunity to work in business, understand how business works
from the very small to large corporations. I worked to revive and
reconstruct businesses and also with business start ups. I know what it
takes to create businesses.
I understand the economy very well and what needs to be done. I am very
action-oriented. I have colleagues in business and am trusted by business
both local and foreign.
I understand how government works and what needs to be changed for the
country to progress. I worked with all ministries and have a record of all
the proposed projects then. I know what is required to implement them and
the likely benefits from each project.
I was co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee
(Jomic) and dealt with victims and perpetrators across the country. Learnt
a lot about what must be done to bring healing and bring closure to some
of our troubled past.
I was one of the negotiators and therefore interfaced with people across
the board including local parties, Sadc governments, met presidents and
prime ministers of Africa and the first world. In government, I led the
International community re-engagement committee negotiating with America
I relate very well with all levels of people namely the rural folk, the
disabled, the young, business people, international people and investors
I am the son to the late Solomon Sekesayi Mangoma – one of the early
He taught me the importance of serving others and the community, he taught
me the importance of liberty and freedom and he taught me the virtues of
one man-one vote.
I am proud of him because he passed down to me important principles and
values and not ill-gotten wealth. The same I pass to my own children and
As a consequence, I am a humble servant leader and accessible by people
across the board.
Q: You have served in government during the GNU first as minister for
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and then minister of Energy and
Power Development. Do you have anything to write home about during your
tenure? What will you list as your success stories, if any?
A: There are many success stories. The very first being to ensure civil
servants got their US dollar allowances in February 2009. Together with
the minister of Finance stabilised the economy and put it on a growth
trajectory. Held the first investment seminar exposing and making
ministers dialogue with business and investors. Developed the Medium Term
Plan, which was later bastardised into ZimAsset, in the process worked
with each and every ministry. Led the assistance initiatives with the
Appointed minister of Energy in July 2010. Set up systems and implemented
policies that wiped out fuel shortages.
Got fuel to be delivered through the pipeline and for neighbouring
countries and fuel merchants to store their fuel in Zimbabwe.
For the first time since the pipeline was constructed we got it to full
capacity and negotiated with Mozambique to construct a second pipeline.
Set up an independent Energy Regulatory Authority. Produced a National
Energy Policy aimed at increasing electricity availability in the short,
medium and long term. This policy framework is still being used now.
Reconciled with Mozambique and Zambia for importation of electricity.
Increased the electricity availability. Introduced debt managing prepaid
meters, lessening the burden of consumers from the huge arrears and made
all users equal.
Got Zanu PF heavyweights to pay for electricity. Arranged the Kariba and
Hwange expansions of the electricity generating capacity.
The Kariba extension project to be commissioned soon was my baby.
Negotiated and agreed with Zambia, the construction of the Batoka Gorge
electricity generating station, which had been outstanding since the
Restructured all the parastatals, including the notorious Noczim, under
the ministry of Energy to operate viably without assistance from
government and to produce up to date audited financial statements.
Built teams and worked as teams in the two ministries.
Q: As Energy minister, in 2011, you were arrested on corruption charges
accused of forcing officials to cancel a tender contract for a power
supply pre-payment system. Why should people vote for a corrupt aspiring
A: One day on a plane trip from South Africa I sat next to one George
Charamba. In conversation he told me I was the person in MDC, Zanu PF was
worried about. Zanu PF was worried about my competence, principled and
They failed to corrupt me. I therefore was a threat to their corrupt way
of doing things. I was arrest before I got into government the nasty one
being the 11 March 2007 at Machipisa Police Station. Arrested twice as
minister and once after the inclusive government.
The other time was about denigrating the president and the last two on
misuse of office. These cases proceeded to trial.
On the first case as minister, Justice Bhunu tried the case in the High
Court. Needless to say the judge discharged the case. What is interesting
about this case is that, initially, the prosecutor tried his best to have
me denied bail including the then notorious section 101,i.e keeping me in
remand prison after the judge had granted me bail, only to offer my
lawyers that they could grant me bail if I accepted not to go to work.
It became apparent that what they did not want was for me to continue the
good work I was doing. I refused their offer and chose instead to stay in
prison. In the end justice was done.
They made the last attempt after I had left the ministry. The arrest was
because some corrupt Zanu PF people did not want the implementation of
You see prepaid meters make everyone who uses electricity to pay. Some of
these guys did not want to pay for electricity.
Without prepaid meters this country would still be experiencing horrible
power cuts, and those inflated bills will be still haunting people.
I had the vision to correct this. Even the Kariba South expansion is a
result of the guaranteed cashflows from prepaid meters.
Senior magistrate Hosiah Mujaya heard the case. The case was dismissed
again. The chief executive officer of Zesa, in his testimony, clearly told
the court about my straightforwardness and non-corrupt nature.
All these are a matter of public record. Zanu is full of corrupt people
and that’s why that system as it stands will not bring effective and
efficient change in Zimbabwe.
Q: In 2014 you sent an open letter to your erstwhile leader Morgan
Tsvangirai asking him to step down, arguing that he had failed to push
through reforms while in the power-sharing government with former
By deductive reasoning, you guys failed in government, right? So why
should people vote for you this year if you have record of failure?
A: I respected (Tsvangirai) as my leader. We had the hopes of the people
to bring about meaningful change into their lives. Many people lost their
lives, many where maimed, many lost their homes, livestock and their
future, fighting to bring positive change. We failed those people. For
that collective derelict of duty, I apologise.
However within the team we know who dropped the ball. I often would have
private one on one conversation with my leader. I would tell him the
truth. It was therefore necessary for us to have a new narrative and to
change direction. This could only be achieved through an honourable change
of leadership. We needed to bring back on track the people’s project.
In the process we were going to create a Tsvangirai Democracy Foundation
and had fundraised for it. His relentless fight for democracy would have
been embodied in the foundation.
Q: Before kicking you out of the MDC, Tsvangirai accused you of being a
Trojan horse for then MDC secretary-general and former finance minister
Tendai Biti. You then went into an alliance with Biti and he also kicked
you out of his party. Now you refuse to join pother parties. Some say you
are not a consensus builder, what is your reaction to those accusations?
A: I gave an interview in your paper in early 2014 and clearly explained
that I was nobody’s poodle. I have always been my own man, a principled
man and remain so to this day.
My fallout with Biti was over the same Big Man syndrome, which we had both
rejected and embodied in the Mandel Resolution that we would be democratic
and abide by majoritarian principle. He did not want to be contested.
We tried to unite with the MDC led by Professor Ncube and Hon Biti
torpedoed it. We had him in CODE and he bolted out and split with Hon G
Moyo and Hon Matibenga in the process. The big man politics has
consistently failed Zimbabwe.
The current situation shows that I am a consensus builder.
In CODE we have developed a framework, which allows for consensus
decision-making. A presidential candidate was chosen without any fissures
and indeed CODE emerged out of that process stronger.
Q: Why cant you guys just field one candidate to square off with President
ED? Are you not concerned you will split votes?
A: CODE is clear that what needs to be changed in Zimbabwe is the
trajectory and the corrupt system. It is not substitution so that a new
group as we see with President (Emmerson) Mnagangwa says its our time to
We will work with those wanting to change the trajectory, we will work
with those who do not want to create another dictator, and we will work
with those who want to serve the people and not themselves.
Splitting of votes is a fallacy. There are more people who refused to go
and vote because they did not see the difference between the contesting
CODE gives a very different direction, aimed at exciting the apathetic
voters, aimed at the former Zanu PF voters who want responsible and
effective change, aimed at former MDC voters who were attracted by the
democratic principles enunciated in the beginning.
CODE offers a future Zimbabweans can believe in, a framework on how to get
there and the seriousness to get there. CODE is not about political plays,
Zimbabweans have suffered enough and they deserve a break.
Q: What do you make of the ouster of Robert Mugabe through a military
intervention? Do you think it was legal or illegal?
A: Zimbabwe suffered from a tyrant and a tyrannical system. The removal of
Mugabe was illegal but welcomed by the majority of Zimbabweans. Tyranny
still persists. No real positive change will take place until there is a
legitimate government chosen by the people is in place.
Q: The economy has collapsed in recent years, and one reason is a
prolonged slump in productivity growth. What steps would your
administration take to encourage innovation and investment and revive the
A: CODE will achieve sustained double-digit economic growth, which is
shared at all levels.
CODE will attend to the structural issues to make Zimbabwe a low cost
efficient producer to be able to compete with the best in the world. This
will entail reforming the state enterprise sector and make them an
integral part of economic activity and growth.
CODE will put in place micro and macro economic policies that will
stabilize the economy, deal with inflation and price stability, and
encourage local production and exports. CODE will resolve the currency and
CODE will ask and work for debtT forgiveness, thereby creating extra room
to grow the economy without the burden of repaying old debt.
CODE will give title to current agricultural land occupants thereby, not
only ensuring security of tenure but also making Zimbabwe’s biggest asset
– land, contribute extensively in the economic performance for the benefit
CODE encourages the private sector investment, inclusive of domestic,
Diaspora and foreign. The private sector and State enterprises will lead
in JOB creation. Other numerous jobs will be created through the revival
of agriculture and Infrastructure development.
Infrastructure development includes road construction, railways, new power
generation plants, information technology, dam constructions, irrigation
development, and housing development. The Zambezi Water Project will be
implemented and will cause massive development along the corridor.
New technologies will be adopted and new industries created. Value
addition will be the order of the day.
Value addition will be with some of our minerals, agricultural produce
like tea, coffee, nuts, beans, maize, hides, milk etc.
Diamonds for example will be polished in Zimbabwe and significant
jewellery industries will be set up. Hides can make Zimbabwe a shoe and
bags centre. There will be development everywhere and there will be no
need for Special Economic Zones. Zimbabwe will be the Economic Zone.
Knowledge industries will be set up. This will be led by a massive
education and health industries.
We can care for the worlds aged population here and provide world class
specialist heath services here.
There will be provision of back offices in information technology, legal
services, accounting and financial management services, architecture and
engineering services and call centres.
Zimbabwe will become the commercial and financial centre of Africa,
leveraging the best financial brains in Africa.
CODE will convert the country’s economic potential through honest hardwork
into real wealth and prosperity in the people’s pockets.People will have
the freedom to be innovative and creative and this will be anchoured by
research and development.
Q: Are you willing to accept the outcome of the 2018 election as the will
of the voters, even if you lose?
A: CODE will accept the results coming out of a free, fair and credible
election. These are the conditions that will make a free fair and credible
There should be no violence, intimidation and coercion of voters.
Agricultural inputs and other humanitarian assistance should not be along
Zec is captured and not trusted by the population. The elections must be
managed and supervised by Sadc, AU and the UN. If the game is fair no one
should worry about having a neutral referee.
Citizens should have the right to freely choose their leaders. Zec has
only registered less than 5 million voters out of a targeted 7 million.
CODE will declare the voter registration a failure if it fails to register
at least 6 million voters equivalent to 85 percent of the target. In the
case of failure then CODE advocates citizens voting by producing their
identity documents only on Election Day.
The suppressive laws Aippa and Posa must be scrapped at least 4 months
before Election Day. The opposition must have access to State media at
least 4 months before Election Day.
Allow long term and short term election observation by any member of the
Diasporans should be allowed to vote.