The Interview: ‘Youths 100pc behind President Mugabe’

Source: The Interview: ‘Youths 100pc behind President Mugabe’ | The Herald May 14, 2016

The Zanu-pf Politburo recently gave the party’s Youth League the green light to hold its “One Million-Man March” in solidarity with President Mugabe on May 25. The Youth League has been holding meetings countrywide drumming up support for the initiative and Cde Kudzi Chipanga (KC), the wing’s deputy secretary, tells The Herald’s Political Editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) that with the party’s Politburo having okayed the initiative, they are ready to stage a tour de force for President Mugabe and the ruling zanu-pf party. But the campaign has not been without controversy. Read on . . .

TZ: You are holding this Million Man March on the 25th of May as has been agreed by the Politburo. Can you tell us what the background is: Why this march and its significance?

KC: The Youth League is mandated by the constitution of Zanu-PF which requires the Youth League to mobilise the youth in support of political, social and economic activities in the country. So having this One Million Man March it is part of our political mobilisation which we are doing in the youth as mandated by our party constitution.

So there is nothing unique about it. It is one of our responsibilities as the youth leadership to mobilise our youth to have full participation in the political activities in the country. The other aspect is we as youth intend to reaffirm our support for our President, Cde R.G. Mugabe.

You know there is a lot of negative publicity which is spread by the Western and private media about our party to an extent that our grassroots supporters are now confused about the goings on in the party.

So we also take this march as an item which will strengthen and restore confidence in our grassroots support.

TZ: This Million Man March has torched of some controversies and some quarters were saying this is a factional initiative and it was meant to counter the meeting that President Mugabe had with war veterans. Can you just locate this in relation to such reports?

KC: Firstly, let me congratulate the President and the war veterans for having such an excellent indaba. That talk of trying to counter any meeting, I don’t think the people saying this are up to date as far as Zanu-PF events are concerned. We started to initiate this One Million Man March before the President held his meeting with the war vets, so I don’t see where this aspect of countering is coming in.

When the President held his meeting with the war vets we had already done around five provinces in mobilisation and preparation for the One Million Man March, so I don’t see where this aspect of countering is coming in.

TZ: And that it is a factional ploy and within Zanu-PF you are targeting somebody or a particular group of people?

KC: About the factional issues I think those are sentiments from counter-revolutionaries. They don’t want to see Zanu-PF carrying out its programmes. Zanu-PF, particularly the Youth League, this is not the first big gathering which has been organised. We also have an event known as the 21st February Movement which is held annually and those events have been so successful, the most recent being held in Masvingo. It attracted more than 80 000 men and women.

I appreciate that this (march) is the first of its kind in the history of the Zanu-PF Youth League to have such an initiative of a Million Man March. To those who are not progressive they think if we introduce a new idea they will take it as factional. It is not like that, it is totally in support of our President Mugabe and we are the right people to do that since we are constitutionally mandated.

As mentioned earlier, we have the constitutional mandate to mobilise our youth in Zimbabwe to have full participation in the political affairs of our country. So this is the first time in the history of the Youth League to have such a big event but I think as we go on people will get used to more events which will unfold in the Zanu-PF Youth League.

TZ: You have been moving around the country now for some time. Can you just tell us what levels of preparation are you at seeing that the 25th of May is less than 20 days away. What is the state of preparedness?

KC: Our structures are now raring to go. As we speak, out of the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe we have already visited seven provinces and left with three provinces which are Matabeleland South which we will be visiting tomorrow (today) and on Sunday we will visit Matabeleland North and sometime during next week we will visit the Midlands.

As far as preparations are concerned I can safely say we are now at an advanced stage which is also why we are pronouncing the date, May 25, because we are now far along with preparations. Our provinces are busy mobilising themselves, their masses and resources to carry people to Harare. So we are way ahead.

TZ: But there are reports that you were facing a lot financial constraints so much so that you might even fail to hold this indaba or to have provinces bring people to it . . .

KC: I don’t know where that is coming from that we as the Youth League are facing crippling financial problems. At the same time let me reiterate that Zanu-PF is a party which is not financially driven but which is people driven. We are unlike other political parties like MDC and the newly formed People First which are Western funded. We do not have Western sponsors, we are people sponsored. So we don’t concentrate much on fund-raising but on mobilising people.

Some of our people, the majority, are farmers, some of them are in the formal and informal sector. So we don’t worry much about the financial resource, we worry about the human resource because in order for our event to be a success we don’t need to have millions of money but we need to have millions of people.

TZ: There are also some reports that you have been facing some resistance within the party structures with some elements bent on sabotaging the initiative?

KC: In terms of our outreach, we have been getting quite a favourable response. We started with Mashonaland East which gathered approximately 4 500 youths. Mashonaland East was then followed by Manicaland Province which had around 5 000 youths. The highest so far out of these provinces was Harare Province which had up to 12 000 youths.

TZ: Still, some people feel that you have raised the bar too high for yourselves and you have bitten more than you can chew as you may not be able to bring such a huge number to Harare on May 25?

KC: It’s not healthy for an organisation or any institution to aim low. Any institution which is progressive like Zanu-PF has to aim high. There is nothing wrong with aiming for one million. There is nothing wrong with aiming for two million. But there is everything wrong with aiming 20 or 40.

We are not a cheap party, we are a revolutionary party. We are the longest-serving party in this country. We need to aim for that one million. Yes, we may fail to make it but we are getting there.

TZ: And lastly, you are having this march at a time when the country is facing economic challenges. People out there are saying you are rallying behind President Mugabe but why not jobs? Why not march against economic challenges? Why not march against poverty in this country? How do you contextualise this march for President Mugabe within the socio-economic fabric of the country?

KC: We are a political movement. We represent the youths of Zimbabwe. President Mugabe was chosen by the people of Zimbabwe and we as youths also participated in this elections. So the aspect of jobs and our economy is also of great concern to us as the young people of this country. And we hope that the only person who can take us out of these economic problems is President Mugabe.

We are saying so because he is the one who took us from the colonial era. He led the country from the colonial era until the country attained political Independence in 1980. So we take this situation we are in as wartime; an economic war which our country and our party are fighting.

And our leader is President Robert Mugabe. We believe in him. We have 100 percent faith in him. We believe he is going to take us out of this political situation. Because of his policies, we don’t doubt.

But at the same time, we need to heed the call from our President that today’s people must not aspire to be employed. We need to be our own employers. We need to create employment.

And we would be fooling ourselves that foreigners are going to come to Zimbabwe and create employment for us. We must create our own employment. That’s why we thank our President for availing land to the people, for availing residential stands for the masses of the youths so that they will have somewhere to stay.

We thank our President for taking initiative to solve econoimic challenges by availing vast tracts of land in Harare and Bulawayo. In that process, employment will also be created. By virtue of the President’s signing those mega-deals countries such as China and Russia, employment is also going to be created.

So there are so many ways our President is creating employment. The only way we can complement those efforts is not to fight him but to support him.