Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told British Broadcasting Corporation Hard Talk interviewer Stephen Sackur that it was not a fact that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was heir apparent to President Robert Mugabe but he also refused to condemn or disqualify him because of the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.
Moyo refused to be pinned down on the succession issue insisting that Mnangagwa was appointed one of the two Vice-Presidents to assist Mugabe.
When pressed whether a person like Mnangagwa with his appalling human rights record could lead the country, Moyo said what happened in the 1980s was totally unacceptable but people should not bear grudges.
“What I can tell you is that before he departed, the late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo, who was much more involved with these issues that you are raising than yourself or anyone else who makes reference to them, entered into a Unity Accord which addressed those issues and we have learnt from that Unity Accord that it is far better to build bridges than to harbour grudges. It is not wise in politics to carry grudges with you,” Moyo said.
Below is a transcript of that aspect of the interview courtesy of The Herald with SS standing for Stephen Sackur and JM for Jonathan Moyo.
SS: Let us talk a little bit about Emmerson Mnangagwa. He is now the heir-apparent after the Joice…
JM: That’s your view. Don’t state it as a fact.
SS: Well, he is the Vice President of the country, that’s not my view.
JM: He is a Vice President of the country, one of the two appointed by the President to assist him to implement the President’s agenda related to his pledges to the electorate…
SS: After Joice Mujuru was fired,
JM: No, no , no, I want to explain this . . .
SS: . . . was politically obliterated, Emmerson Mnangagwa by all accounts across this country is seen as the man who will be the next President.
JM: You can ask those who see him that way . . .
SS: Do you not see him that way?
JM: He is an appointed Vice President. The President did not appoint him so that he could succeed him. He appointed him so that he could assist him to implement the policy programme of the Government.
SS: Do you think that a man, and this is Mr Mnangagwa, who will always be associated with the massive abuse of human rights in the military campaign in the early 1980s which saw between 10 and 20 000 Ndebele people killed in Matabeleland, do you think he is the right man to take Zimbabwe forward in the 21st century?
JM: Look, it’s a strawman you are setting up and you are making a lot of assumptions without any evidence to support them. I repeat he has been appointed to assist the President. As for these associations you are alleging this is the stuff that you find in the newspapers. He is …
SS: It’s not just in the newspapers, it’s in the US State Department, it’s in a whole series of human rights reports from international organisations. We know for example that during this campaign, Mr Mnangagwa, he said, that he would shorten the stay on earth of any cockroaches who opposed Mr Mugabe. This now the man who is talked of as Zimbabwe’s next President. I just wonder if that is healthy.
JM: I want to repeat, this reference to him as the next President is yours and it is a burden that you should unravel for yourself and not state as a fact. However, it is also a fact we know as Zimbabweans that between 1980 and 1987 we went through a very dark period and a lot of things were done and said by elements of the political leadership including Emmerson Mnangagwa which are totally unacceptable…
SS: Forgive me for getting personal, but I believe you lost family members in that military campaign?
JM: Yes I did.
SS: And I just wonder whether you, personally, given your history, could countenance a man so closely associated with the mass killings becoming the next President of your country?
JM: What I can tell you is that before he departed, the late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo, who was much more involved with these issues that you are raising than yourself or anyone else who makes reference to them, entered into a Unity Accord which addressed those issues and we have learnt from that Unity Accord that it is far better to build bridges than to harbour grudges. It is not wise in politics to carry grudges with you.