Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is alleged to be a leader of one of the factions within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, says the party is united and the leadership is in full control.
Asked in an interview with The Herald whether the leadership was in control of the party because of what is currently happening, Mnangagwa replied: “Obviously! You should have seen how united we were in Victoria Falls. We had the most beautiful, most successful, most constructive conference we have ever had. So ZANU-PF despite what we hear, when you write and say reliable sources meaning what yourself is thinking and call it reliable sources, all that nonsense, it’s not coming from us. It comes from people who want to peddle their own agendas. But as ZANU-PF, we are united. We shall continue to march and march. Those who do not want to follow that march, will fall by the wayside.”
Mnangagwa said he did not believe there was a split within the party. When President Robert Mugabe said the party could split because of in-fighting, Mnangagwa said, Mugabe was merely giving a warning that “we must continue cherishing and advocating for unity. If we do not do that, we will lead ourselves to divisions that will split the party”.
He said Mugabe was saying leaders of the party must promote unity, speak unity, dream unity and walk unity, day in and day out.
On people that are allegedly feeding the press with information that may be happening in the party, Mnangagwa responded: “I do not want to speculate. You are the press, if you have people feeding you say them, I have never fed you with disunity messages. So if you have people who feed you, expose them.”
Zimbabwe marks 28 years tomorrow since the signing of the historic Unity Accord between Zanu and PF Zapu whose armies Zanla and Zipra respectively waged a protracted war against the Smith regime. The Unity Accord was a negotiated settlement following the disturbances that rocked the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces after independence. Our senior Reporter, Lloyd Gumbo (LG) speaks to one of the lead negotiators who represented Zanu during the talks, Zanu-PF Second Secretary and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (VP Mnangagwa) on unity then and unity now and the threat to unity in the party now.
LG: Zimbabwe will on Tuesday (tomorrow) celebrate 28 years since the singing of the Unity Accord. May you give us a general context in which the historical milestone came about between Zanu and PF-Zapu.
VP Mnangagwa: Well, I should say that the culmination of unity in 1987 has a historical background as you are aware, that initially it was just Zapu. It was the major nationalist party in the country but in 1963 there was that split when Zanu was then formed. But both parties then decided to wage an armed struggle both Zapu and Zanu. On the Zapu side we had Zipra and on the Zanu side we had Zanla. If you remember that the first time we worked together on resolving the Rhodesian issue at the time in 1976 in Geneva again the two parties came together to present a united front. After that, several attempts were made both at the military level when we created Zipa and at the political level when we created the Patriotic Front. Yes, of course after the Lancaster House conference in London in 1979, our leaders decided to contest the 1980 general elections separately, which resulted in Zanu-PF having a majority and Zapu having a minority in terms of numbers in Parliament.
But then, the spirit of uniting was not lost. We continued to have it, to share it and every attempt was being done quietly to consolidate and have this unity. This was then achieved in 1987 on December 22 when ultimately, the two parties as leaders and also as Central Committees of the two parties endorsed the decisions of the leaders to merge the two parties Zanu and Zapu creating Zanu-PF. That generally is the brief background of this unity because our leaders felt that we are a unitary country and for purposes of development, we needed the ideologies of Zanu and the ideologies were the same. It was a question of personalities in leadership and perhaps questions of approach in terms of the military. But then that we were now independent, it was now necessary that we unite the major political parties to have peace in the country, to have development in the country and to work together to unite our people so that as a unitary State, a united revolutionary party, Zanu-PF, would march forward.
LG: It’s now 28 years since the Unity Accord was signed and the unity has sustained itself under Zanu-PF. What would you attribute this unity?
VP Mnangagwa: Well, let me say, first and foremost there was commitment by the leadership. On the Zanu side, we had President Mugabe and the late Vice President Muzenda, the late (Maurice) Nyagumbo. Of course the discussions were generally led by Nyagumbo, myself and sometimes VaMuzenda at the lower level. On the Zapu side, it was the late Joseph Msika, the late John Nkomo were the principal negotiators. But at the core of the negotiations was to implement the will of our leaders to work out unity that is equal, a unity that Zanu would accept, a unity that Zapu would accept in terms of the leadership focus and direction.
Then the same background and principles for unity were then taken to the Central Committees of the two parties, they were debated and agreed on the basis and criteria for that unity, so you can see that there was a buy-in not only by the top leadership, but by the Central Committees that represented the highest organs of the two political parties. There was that acceptance so the foundation of the unity are the people themselves. The leadership of the two political parties accepted the unity, so this is the commitment we have to this unity. So I believe that as long as that spirit of unity, the spirit of development, the spirit of a focused revolution, we shall remain united. Yes in every revolution, we have elements, which fall by the wayside but the main thrust or the correct line of the revolution will continue as we go on. We believe that this legacy will remain among you, the young generation to continue to cherish the need for unity because with unity and peace, the country can develop.
LG: Some people would ask why Government under the leadership of Zanu-PF has maintained such nomenclature such as Mashonaland and Matabeleland. Some people would consider them divisive that is if someone is said to come from Mashonaland and the other one is said to come from Matabeleland that could be point of division?
VP Mnangagwa: I suppose such school of thought may have some legitimacy among some people. But I don’t think we have either directed ourselves or focused on the issue that if you say, Manicaland, you are saying Manicaland is for the Manicaland people, if you say Mashonaland, you are saying Mashonaland is for Mashonaland people, Matabeleland, that is not the philosophy. The naming of these provinces was the geographic situation of the country. We have a school of thought among the comrades who think that we should rename these provinces. This is not a question in my view of leadership. It’s a question for the people of Zimbabwe, if they desire that the names be changed, I don’t see anybody standing against such a will. But as you say, some people expressed that concept that perhaps we should rename because as you say, Matabeleland North, or Bulawayo or Mat South or Midlands, you are already saying these people are from the middle of the country, Mashonaland you are saying these people are from Mashonaland, the northern provinces of the country, Manicaland for the eastern people. Perhaps time might come when we can agree on naming these provinces in a neutral manner, I don’t think anybody would work against that.
LG: Looking back at the last 28 years, would you say the united Zanu-PF has achieved all the objectives that were set out when the Unity Accord was signed?
VP Mnangagwa: Yes, I believe so. First and foremost, when we came together in 1987 to sign the Unity Accord, total peace was ushered in the country. At the time, there were elements of dissidentry in the country. It came to an end. Since then, nothing has ever happened again on those lines, so we are happy as a party, as Zanu-PF that our leaders actually worked for that unity and agreed. They are leaving behind a legacy of unity, which I believe that, the generations that are going to follow after us will continue to cherish that unity. Then as a result of the unity by Zanu-PF, today in the Army, you cannot distinguish a former Zipra from a former Zanla. All are comrades of the Zimbabwe National Army, all are comrades of the Zimbabwe Air Force, and all are comrades in the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the same with the Presidential department (Central Intelligence Organisation). I remember when I was chairman of the Joint High Command during the integration of the three armies. We had the Zipra army, the Rhodesian army and the Zanla army, at some stages we had difficulties putting these people together but at the end of the day, we succeeded putting these people together and formed one Zimbabwe National Army and today that is gone. No one remembers about Zipra, Zanla or the Rhodesian Army. Everybody now recognise themselves as Zimbabwe National Army or Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Full stop! The same in Government you will not go into a ministry or any Government department and say who is PF Zapu or who is Zanu? It’s all gone and this now 28 years down the line which means if a child was born in 1987, he is now 28 years and they don’t know about that division they only read about that in the books. So it’s a very good decision in my view which our leaders did to unite these people.
As we go on, the generation which knows about that history is getting smaller and smaller and the generation which knows only about unity is getting bigger and bigger and this is an advantage and a solid foundation to build our Zimbabwe.
LG: But at the political level in Zanu-PF, you still have people who want to identify with Zanu others who want to identify with PF Zapu in terms of their history?
VP Mnangagwa: There may be such perceptions. I know that in the Unity Accord as it stands now, whoever is President of Zanu-PF shall appoint two Vice Presidents, one from former Zapu and one from former Zanu, that is still in the Unity Accord. I think at the time, it was necessary to make sure that you see, all former political parties are represented. That was the concept at the time, to make sure everybody is represented at that level. But as we go down the line, I don’t know whether that shall continue to be the same. We leave this to the future generation as to how they look at it. But the concept at the beginning was to make sure that no one, if we are to go to elections, you might find that all might come from Zanu or all in the leadership might come from Zapu or the majority might come from Zapu. You would find that the President is former Zapu and the two Vice Presidents are former Zapu or the President is former Zanu and two Vice Presidents are also former Zanu. But then, they made that provision that whoever is President of Zanu-PF must appoint two Vice Presidents, one from former Zapu and one from former Zanu. That was to make sure that the former political parties are represented at the highest level. But in my view, down the line this might fade away.
LG: Just a quick clarification VP, so it means that we could in the future have someone as President from former PF Zapu because some people may think that it was only meant to be Zanu as President and then VPs one from former Zanu and the other from former Zapu?
VP Mnangagwa: No, no, no, the Presidency is open. Anybody can be President from former Zanu or former Zapu. It’s in the agreement. You must read the agreement. Whoever becomes President, his two Vice Presidents must come from the two former political parties. That is what is in the Unity agreement.
LG: When the Unity Accord was signed, the objective was not only to achieve political settlement but to also look at the development aspect. There are some quarters who claim that Matabeleland regions are marginalised. What is your take?
VP Mnangagwa: Well, these are political malcontents, which we are always going to have and throughout. Take any ministry you can think of in Government because Government works through ministries. The mandates of development are through ministries. Take my Ministry of Justice (for example), you cannot tell me that judges in Bulawayo in the Ministry of Justice are less important than judges who are in Chinhoyi, who are in Mutare, who are in Masvingo or where ever you might think. They are the same judges, they are appointed by the Chief Justice, he deploys them. The same facilities you find in the High Court in Bulawayo are the same facilities you find in the High Court in Mutare, or in the High Court in Harare or in the High Court in Chinhoyi. So such things are not correct.
Lets take the Ministry of Agriculture. In Matabeleland there is less agriculture, there is more animal husbandry and cattle and so on. But the treatment is the same. The Presidential inputs cover everybody. We have a ministry which assesses the people who need that support and it is done through the structures of Government. Local government structures, we have the minister, the provincial minister, we have the PA (Provincial Administrator), we have the DA (District Administrator) and we have the councillor at the ward level. So the councillor at the Ward level is responsible for seeing a need at that level and reports come up and those people are covered.
That’s what happens. Look at any ministry and see whether there is a ministry, which is heavily represented in one region or in one province than in another. But you still find people talking about what you are saying. Yes, for instance during the Rhodesian government, there was more development here in Harare, then Salisbury as a capital city than you could see say in Chipinge, or Beitbridge or in Kariba. But now as a revolutionary Government of Zanu-PF there is no area in this country, which should remain behind. Every area must receive the attention it deserves equally. We are a unitary State.
LG: And that message is mainly parroted by secessionists. What are your views about that?
VP Mnangagwa: Yes I sometimes read about things that you people write that there are elements of secessionists, Mthwakazi, something like that, that fringe. You always have people of that nature in every society and that does not stop the revolutionary train to continue its journey. They will shout and bark, the train of development and unity will continue to go.
LG: And the Constitution says Zimbabwe is a unitary state?
VP Mnangagwa: Absolutely! That is one of the fundamentals of the Constitution.
LG: Looking at Zanu-PF now, some people could say Zanu-PF is at the crossroads because there seems to be disunity in the party and the President alluded to this when he addressed the Central Committee during the 15th Annual National People’s conference when he said that the things happening now threaten to split the party. What would you say are the origins or the reasons for this disunity?
VP Mnangagwa: I don’t believe that there is any split in the party at all. The President was giving a warning that we must continue cherishing and advocating for unity. If we do not do that, we will lead ourselves to divisions that will split the party. So he is saying that those people who are in leadership who cherish unity, who cherish development, must always speak, breath, work for unity. Don’t ever work for division for that will split the country. Let us all at whatever level, lowest level, middle level, high level work and promote unity. Of course you people in the press can twist but the context in which the President was saying is that every leader must promote unity, speak unity, dream unity, walk unity, day in and day out.
LG: Unity is one of the founding principles in Zanu-PF, yet you still have people in leadership who are seen to be pushing or parroting that message of creating disunity. Would you say the party leadership is still in control of its elements?
VP Mnangagwa: I am not aware of any leaders in Zanu-PF who preach disunity. All members of Zanu-PF, be it in the politburo or in the Central Committee, we all preach the need, the necessity and value of unity in Zanu-PF. This is a principle we would want to be a culture in the party to be united, to be peaceful and to love each other. That is what we preach. We have elements who may speak other things but they do not represent the core values of Zanu-PF.
LG: Going forward, in your view what is it that the revolutionary party must do to ensure that the unity within the party and the country at large is maintained?
VP Mnangagwa: We, as the leaders in the party, wherever we are, in public or in private, we must speak with one voice, we must read from the same page and sing one hymn and the hymn is unity, unity and unity. As the Late Vice president John Nkomo said, unity begins with me, unity begins with you and unity begins with all of us. That’s what we must continue to preach so that as the younger generation comes up, it is inculcated with the vision for unity, they should know that development of the country and people is anchored on unity. So the question of unity is not questionable.
LG: Lastly would you say the party leadership is in control of the party?
VP Mnangagwa: Obviously! You should have seen how united we were in Victoria Falls (at 15th Annual National People’s Conference). We had the most beautiful, most successful, most constructive conference we have ever had.
So Zanu-PF despite what we hear, when you write and say reliable sources meaning what yourself is thinking and call it reliable sources, all that nonsense, it’s not coming from us. It comes from people who want to peddle their own agendas.
But as Zanu-PF, we are united. We shall continue to march and march. Those who do not want to follow that march, will fall by the wayside.
LG: But we understand that there are people within the party like the President said who are feeding the private press with information that may be happening in the party ….
VP Mnangagwa: I do not want to speculate. You are the press, if you have people feeding you say them, I have never fed you with disunity messages. So if you have people who feed you, expose them.