Opposition Alliance for the People’s Agenda leader Nkosana Moyo says he was pushed into politics after observing that Zimbabwe was taking the wrong direction during the Robert Mugabe era.
Moyo (NM) told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN) on the platform In Conversation With Trevor that he initially wanted to stand as an independent candidate during the 2000 parliamentary elections because he was convinced that mainstream political parties were not serving the interests of the people.
Below are excerpts from the interview, which will be in two parts.
TN: Dr Nkosana Donald Moyo. I love these middle names. Welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
Delighted that you have made the time during your very busy schedule. Welcome. Nkosana, you have a PhD in Physics from Imperial College, University of London.
You have an MBA from Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom.
Between March 2009 and August 2011, you were with the African Development Bank where you served as vice-president and chief operating officer.
Then you spent quite some time with Standard Chartered Merchant Bank in Tanzania and in Zimbabwe.
You also spent some time with the International Finance Corporation.
A lot of experience, a lot of insights from there. I hope we get into all those.
You also in 2018 ran as a presidential candidate of the Alliance For The People’s Agenda.
You were Zimbabwe’s Industry and International Trade minister.
When I was looking at your profile and reading around where you have been and what you have done, it is a full life, almost time to say “I am done!”
NM: That is what I say to my family by the way. I tell them if I drop dead, do not panic. I am done.
TN: I want us to focus the conversation around, as far as you are concerned, what are the three most defining moments of your life? By the way, you are turning 70 years old in August?
NM: Yes, this year.
TN: What are the three (defining moments of your life)?
NM: You know, Trevor, it is a very interesting question, because I think for me there is a psychological almost like challenge to the concept of something defining.
This is because I found that from a very early age, with an academic frame around trying to answer this challenging question.
I went to school when it was still Sub-A, Sub-B and all of that stuff.
So at that time when you thought of Standard 6, it was like okay, if I get there, then that is an achievement.
You then get there and all of a sudden, the magic disappears.
All of a sudden there is a new kind of apex to reach.
Maybe it is Form 4, there again there is nothing to it.
So it is almost the Mandela concept in that there is always another hill to climb. Always.
What appeared to be an achievement before you got there, when you then get there you find that it is very ordinary. That is how my life has been.
TN: That is deep. I mean I am going to ask you towards the end, because you have just raised a question now.
I am wondering what is the next call for you? Do not answer it now. Let us deal with it later on.
I have always been fascinated, Nkosana, about your decision in the year 2000 to run as an independent candidate.
Take us through your thought process. You see that there is this party and that party.
You are not attracted by any of them. You decide to stand on your own.
Take us through that thought process as to what made you make that choice.
NM: I come from a very well-known political background, so I am not an academic social scientist or politician.
I think my policies comes from a lived reality.
An observation of the world around me.
That is how I am informed as opposed to have been schooled.
Everywhere I looked at that time, on the one hand I could see our country was not progressing the way a lot of us wanted it to.
We could see then that things were beginning to come apart more visibly than before.
You then start engaging with the political process, then clearly and hopefully, as most of us would, you look around at things and examples to learn from.
What struck me then was that everywhere I looked in the world, which was kind of equivalent to my world, younger nations rather than developed countries; and I observed that in every single case the ruling organisations or parties were running countries for the party and not for the people.
My simplistic analysis was that it would appear to me that people, who claim to belong to a ‘club’ or a party, actually get subsumed or owned by the party, and lose the context of the bigger picture.
In the context of a nation or of a country I think that is bad.
I think that if we are going to build countries that work for our people in an inclusive way, we need to find an answer to this challenge.
That people, who declare allegiance to a political party, you will notice that when they debate, if you put a Zanu PF person with an MDC person. To be fair to them it goes for any other country.
You can go to the United States and see the two main parties there and you see the same traits in allegiance.
We seem to get captured totally by this subset of our nation, as opposed to rising above that and saying one’s agenda is for everybody, and how do you strike that balance.
If you do not mind me telling you what then happened.
When I made this observation I started some soft campaigning and I decided I wanted to run. For this reason stated earlier, I decided I wanted to run as an independent candidate.
I then started soft campaigning, and something fascinating happened.
All my friends, without exception, every single one of them said they would not vote for me.
TN: Wow. And the reason?
NM: Then they said they believed I would make a very good Member of Parliament (MP), by the reason they would not vote for me was because I was intending to run as an independent.
Their agenda, they told me, at that time was to change, or get rid of a government.
So, they said independent candidates do not change governments.
So, they said if I was to join MDC I would literally walk straight into Parliament because they would then vote for me.
TN: However, still you went on to run as an independent candidate?
NM: I then did not run. I think this is because I am over-rational.
I could not deny what this feedback was telling me.
It was very well structured, it made sense, but I could not reconcile it, however, with my own observation about capture by parties.
So for me the solution under those circumstances was just not to run.
I could not see how I could compromise and do something, which I almost 100% knew that where it was going to go was not where I wanted to go.
TN: So, with this evidence presented by your friends, how would you be able to change the system on your own?
Without being part of the party that was going to end up owning you? What was your thinking there, how would you change it?
NM: You see again it might be simplistic, but I want to put it to you this way: I think like most things in life, if you are careful enough, you know the expression that there is no cloud without a silver lining?
I think most constructs of a society present both potential and dangers.
Most of them. So, this issue of being an isolated president, actually in our circumstances in most third world countries is not necessarily such a bad thing.
Do you know why?
Our societies are very hierarchical, actually the minute you are our president, most of our people will rally behind you just because you are president.
It is both good and bad.
It’s what produces the dictators that we experience because it gets to the head of a lot of people.
They start treating you like a god.
I bet you if an independent candidate won the presidency in this country, most individuals in this country would follow.
TN: Due to the power of the office?
NM: Yes. They would follow.
If that said individual started doing things, which were perceptibly beneficial to the society, they would just follow and reconstruct and rebuild our society.
TN: Interesting. You clearly made a mark.
NM: Incidentally, look at what happened within Zanu PF.
Is it not fascinating that literally from one day to another, the rallies that former president (Robert) Mugabe was having with former first lady Grace Mugabe, the minute Emmerson Mnangagwa was the new president, it was like a switch was thrown. How is that possible?
TN: Frightening, isn’t it?
NM: It illustrates my point. We just need to observe that and see how it can be used in a positive way. Like everything, like a knife.
You can use it to kill people, or you can use it to perform an operation and save people.
All these things I think are the same.
There is no cloud without a silver lining.
Do you choose the cloud, the dark cloud and thunderous destructive element, or do you choose to look for the silver lining and then take that and accentuate it?
TN: The other silver lining, would it not be that if you cannot beat them join them?
NM: You know again let me tell you my other observation as far as that is concerned.
Even if you go to the private sector, companies when they get into trouble, and they want to change and also change their culture, they will go out and head-hunt and find somebody.
Studies have proven that more often than not the individual that comes in gets changed by the system rather than the other way.
What prospects do you think you have of getting into something like MDC or Zanu PF, to use our current examples, and change it?
What prospects do you have?
TN: You will have to be very strong-willed, visionary, take no nonsense.
NM: I think the system will take you in and spit you out.
TN: Well, to use your argument about people that rally around you, people seeing the change and progress that you are making then they rally around you. That is my crazy idea.
NM: You see that in this instance you will have to accept that you will be a threat to a lot of vested interests.
The majority does not have its hands on the levers of power. It is only a few. All the things happening in this country, it is not because of the majority, it is because of a very few people actually.
Those few people are what you would have to deal with.