via ‘We don’t have to wait for 2018’ | The Financial Gazette Maggie Mzumara 21 Nov 2013
SINCE his failed bid for the National Assembly in the harmonised elections, Simba Makoni (SM), leader of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) political party, has not been in the limelight much. The Financial Gazette’s News Editor, Maggie Mzumara (MM) sought him out and had a one-on-one with him. Below is what came out of it.MM: As of last week, ZANU-PF has been in power for over 100 days. And as a party they are riding on promises they made to people in their manifesto just before the elections.
In your opinion how is the ZANU-PF administration faring?
SM: It is the same ZANU-PF government we had before February 2009. There may be a few new faces, but it is the same, therefore I have no expectations of any improvement in the quality of life they offer the people of Zimbabwe. I have no expectations of any new performance, and no expectations of new initiatives from ZANU-PF.
MM: What have you been up to yourself?
SM: At a personal level I have continued to operate my business so I can provide for my family. As for my involvement with our party, MKD we will continue to organise our party so that we can offer an alternative voice and so that we can raise hope in Zimbabweans that they can make better lives for themselves.
MM: The alliance you had with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), what were the parameters of that collaboration?
SM: I have personally always advocated for coalition. Our party took the decision to create a grand coalition for change because our point was that we were not in this for any personal glory. So we formed that coalition with MDC-T and ZANU Ndonga. That is why we did not field any presidential candidate as MKD. After we agreed that Morgan Tsvangirai would be the president of the coalition, we could not then have two presidents, so we had to find roles for each other.
MM: And where is that coalition now?
SM: The coalition for change was anchored around 2013 elections and actions beyond if the coalition had won.
MM: So your joining hands with MDC-T was with the blessing of your party and not a unilateral decision?
SM: Absolutely not. It was not unilateral. Our leadership was behind it.
MM: What of reports which said that it was your own idea?
SM: It depends on the level of position of the people who said that. I cannot deny that not everyone was aware of it, but our leadership from the provincial to national level knew about it.
MM: What’s the plan now?
SM: The need for coalition of leading organisations in the country — civil society, political and business organisation — is more urgent now than it was before July 31. Our view is that we should continue to strive for colloboration. We are continuing to work for that grand coalition for change.
MM: What have you done so far towards that grand coalition for change?
SM: I have met with Morgan Tsvangirai but our leadership teams for the party are yet to meet. The two of us have met and exchanged notes on the election results and now we are in consultations within our respective parties.
MM: What are the consultations within your own party showing you?
SM: That there is work that we need to do. We need to organise more vigorously and more clearly.
MM: Meaning you had not done a good enough job before?
SM: It is a continuing process. Even organisations that are larger and older than us continue to organise. You do not let up on organising. You need to continue doing it so that your relevance is affirmed, so that you don’t stand still.
MM: Speaking of relevance, do you feel that MKD as a party has relevance?
SM: Definitely. We believe that the principles and values we espouse as a party are what Zimbabwe needs. As a country we need values of honesty, integrity, competence among others. Those are relevant for the present and future. And we are not taking it for granted that because we espouse the values and principles the country needs, we presume that the people will accept us, so we have to keep organising.
MM: You contested as a member of Parliament in the July 31 elections and in 2008 you contested for the presidency – what does that say about you? How do you reconcile those two attempts at those levels?
SM: I don’t know that there is anything to reconcile. I have committed myself to contributing to a better Zimbabwe. I can do it from any level. I can do it from the highest office and I can do it from the lowest office. I could even contest to be a councillor. I do not create boundaries for my contribution. I have participated at various levels of contribution before. If my contribution is wanted in the village that is where I will go. For me it is not about position, it is about contribution – the content of your contribution.
MM: Way forward?
SM: We are going ahead with the coalition. For the elections we did not end up with the grand coalition that we had wanted, which is why we had to change the name from grand coalition for change to the coalition for change.
MM: If you did not manage to come up with a grand coalition before, what makes you think going forward it can be any “grander” this time around?
SM: The need for it is what drives us to work towards it. If the need for it is there then the effort must be there. We are not presuming that it will be easy to come up with a grand coalition. I am making a commitment to work for it because the country needs it more than ever before. I know it will be difficult.
MM: What did you agree on with Morgan Tsvangirai when you spoke?
SM: We agreed to move forward with the coalition. MKD and the MDC-T are currently engaging in separate post-mortem of our parties election campaigns, then after that we will do joint post mortems, from that will emerge the way forward.
MM: And the grand vision is that for 2018 elections…
SM: We are not waiting for 2018. The country needs leadership now and ZANU –PF is not providing the leadership. As a coalition we will generate some ideas and we will put them forward.
MM: Put them forward to who?
SM: Whoever is committed to improving the quality of life for the people of Zimbabwe. Things need to change. We can make change even tomorrow. We can make change by convincing President (Robert) Mugabe and his party that they need to change the direction of how things are going. People of Zimbabwe do not have to breathe stale air from refuse dumped by roadsides. You don’t have to wait for elections. We want to convince ZANU-PF that there are better ideas outside their structures, their committees, their cabinet, their politburo. We want to convince them that there are people outside their structures who know how to solve our problems.
MM: Do you think they will listen?
SM: That’s their own problem. Our obligation is to continue to share ideas that will improve the quality of life for the Zimbabwean people.
MM: Anything else you want to say before we round off the interview?
SM: Yes, I have a message for the Zimbabwean people. I know that we are all suffering hardships of different kinds, I urge them not to give up on themselves. I appeal to them not to wait for change but to be part of that change agent. Change will not come by itself. It will be made by the people. We don’t have to wait for 2018. We could make change tomorrow, next week, next year.