Joseph Madzimure Interview
Since the advent of the New Dispensation, the ruling revolutionary party has been undergoing a process of rejuvenation including professionalising its administrative arms. The party has not only become vibrant, but has embarked on a process of enlarging its support base ahead of the 2023 elections. Our Senior Reporter Joseph Madzimure (JM) caught up with Zanu PF national political commissar Cde Victor Matemadanda (VM) to give an insight into some of the developments taking place in the party, that include the District Coordinating Committee (DCC) polls that will be held tomorrow as well as the postponement of this year’s People’s Annual Conference due to Covid-19. Below are excerpts of the interview.
JM: Since your appointment as the national political commissar, what are some of the achievements you have made?
VM: There is a sense of inspiration that comes from the totality of the membership of the party as far as the commissariat work is concerned. It’s not only my responsibility, but it’s a collective effort – a collective effort that is guided by the party’s constitution. It’s not like when you are appointed as a commissar you reinvent the wheel; you just take over from those that were there before you.
I would like to thank the work done by my predecessor, Cde Engelbert Rugeje. He did quite a lot of work, especially running the 2018 harmonised elections. That was a very big task when good, and bad things are bound to happen.
This, I am experiencing when I am presiding over the District Coordinating Committees(DCC) elections, which must be easier to have than complex national elections. So he did quite a lot of work which I really appreciate and I want to continue drawing from his experience.
I also consulted another former commissar, Cde Webster Shamu. We also assign these leaders to other critical areas where I think their experience can be useful.
When I was appointed, I had clear instruction from the President that I must grow the party and ensure that the party is focused, while members are disciplined and united.
JM: You are chasing five million new members, how far have you gone in that regard?
VM: We initiated the five million strategy and I was happy when we presented it to the President. It got a nod from him, which is not an easy thing. He is one person you cannot easily convince.
I was surprised when we presented it and he was happy with it. The comments that he gave continue to inspire me. We then went to present our strategy to the Politburo and again the strategy was approved in principle.
JM: Is the five million membership vote achievable?
VM: It is not only achievable, but we can surpass that, remember we said five million or 65 percent is the minimum, but we don’t aim to just rank at five million, we want to surpass that figure. Possibilities are there that we can go beyond that.
When we talked about the five million strategy, our database quickly rose. I can tell you that this is what I was going to say, not only do we intend to achieve the five million registered members, but we are comfortably feeling that we are surpassing that.
We are approaching the mark, this is why I am saying when we go beyond 2021-22, we must have surpassed the five million mark. This is based on statistics. I can tell you that a big number has come to the party. When I move around in town, the question that I get from out of 10 people I meet every day, six or seven people ask how they can access the Zanu PF membership card.
The demand for cards is increasing, meaning that they are appreciating efforts being done by Zanu PF to revive the economy.
At the moment there is no opposition that we can talk about. The opposition has failed. A number of people are coming back to Zanu PF. We have said everyone is welcome home, and people are coming.
JM: What are some of the strategies that have been put in place to meet the target?
VM: I am very thankful of the President’s adherence to the gospel of our 2018 manifesto which has to be drilled into some ministries and the staff to understand that whatever they do, should contribute or should fulfil the 2018 election manifesto.
JM: Are you happy with the state of the economy?
FK: Looking at the economic atmosphere, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube, usually and normally talks about economic fundamentals and it is important for people to understand what that means.
When all economic enablers are ready, then we can say we are ready for economic development, and this is the process that we have gone through. For the ordinary person, that might not reflect as it will do to an economist, who is not biased, who is not affiliated to some political party.
We have gone through stages, the austerity measures outlined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), and now the National Development Strategy 1.
Those are stages that can be scientifically-proven and that is important. That has caused quite a lot of changes, for example, for 40 years we could not tar a road ourselves.
We have this tendency of depending on foreign companies, but today with the Second Republic, we are doing that, the rehabilitation of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway which links with other SADC countries is underway.
People can now plan with the current economic stability in the market. There is price stability now, brought by the Second Republic which I think everyone should appreciate, But of course some in the opposition might not appreciate, they might pretend as if they don’t see anything.
In reality, it is up to the people to see. This is what I am concerned and worried about. I am worried about fulfilling service delivery, fulfilling the promises of our people’s manifesto where we are saying Zanu PF promised to do A, B, C, D.
We are still in the journey, we are getting to 2023 and I am quite sure that with the developments that we are doing, I am confident that most of the targets will be met. Of course, we know we have this unfortunate situation of Covid-19 and Cyclone Idai, natural disasters which cannot be blamed on anyone, but we have managed well.
JM: Coming to Covid-19, are you happy with the country’s efforts to curb the pandemic?
VM: The actions that President Mnangagwa took are so outstanding and because of that, some people are asking why are people not dying of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe? You wonder what inspires a person to believe that Zimbabweans were supposed to die more than any other area in the world. But because of good leadership and management, it is not coincidental that we have managed to deal with the pandemic.
JM: Are Government programmes permeating to all corners of the country?
VM: Look at the Pfumvudza concept, with these rains coming, you are assured of a bumper harvest and the bumper harvest does not belong to Zanu PF, but the people of Zimbabwe. The people should comment on the good planning that was put in place by the Government.
This is what we are carrying as a commissariat department to the people. We are going to the people of Zimbabwe and saying judge us, give them what you want to give them. People do not leave on promises, those promises should be turned into action. That is what we are doing and I am very happy about that.
JM: Now tell us about the DCC elections that will be held tomorrow, how adequately prepared are you?
VM: Just today (Wednesday), we were briefing those that are going to conduct elections on the way forward, how are they going to do it, the procedure of the elections. How they relate up to the election point, how they will manage the elections.
JM: How are the elections going to be done?
VM: The party, through its leadership, will manage the elections. Politburo, Central Committee and provincial members have been deployed to provinces, and every staff member of the party is going to be involved. Some provinces are going to supervise each other. This is an internal thing; it is not like there are some dog fights as is being said by some media organisations.
As far as we are concerned, this is an election after a long time internally. It has also shown us how active the party structures at grassroots level are. There is contestation, but not as ugly as people want to portray.
There are no wars, it’s just an imagination in some people’s mindsets. Politburo members have no interest in the provincial structure. There is no reason for Politburo members to cause disharmony in the DCC elections. There is nothing amiss in the DCC structures.
It’s the party that put the regulations, but of course every regulation has got to be implemented by an individual. In this case of elections, I implement, but I don’t implement my decisions, but I implement decisions of the Politburo, but when I make a mistake myself as an operative I face the consequences.
But who works 365 days without making a mistake. I don’t fear making a mistake when the intention is right. I fear to make a mistake where I intend to do a wrong thing.
JM: There have been reports of factionalism in the DCC polls. What is your take?
VM: The constitution is very clear on the conduct of members on what is expected and obligations and so forth. Let’s all be guided by the constitution. As long as we are guided by our constitution, there are no chances of factionalism. There can be indiscipline, when indiscipline occurs I think the decision against the member should be deterrent.
There is no structure that is better than the other, every party structure is there for a purpose. We cannot have the Central Committee without having the provinces, we cannot have a Politburo without having Central Committees, we cannot have a branch without a cell or a village, we cannot have a DCC structure without districts.
JM: Some say DCC are powerful and therefore a threat to other party structures?
VM: If the DCC are going to be stronger, what about the 120 people who are going to vote for them. What about the 120 people wake up and say we have put a vote of no confidence in the 22 elected DCC members.
How can 22 people be more powerful than districts. DCC is just a coordinating committee, it’s not an organ that makes decisions on its own.
JM: It seems there is an appetite for civil servants who want to take part in the DCC election. What is the position?
VM: The law is clear. We abide by the law. If a civil servant wants to be a DCC member, they have to resign first from their positions as civil servants and contest as per the party rules.
JM: Traditionally, the Annual National People’s conference provides direction for the party, given that it has been suspended this year due to Covid-19, what is going to be done to communicate with the structures?
VM: We have arranged Provincial Coordinating Committees, where the President is going to attend and address all the country’s PCCs, giving direction. After the President we are going to also have another round for Departments of the party so that our people are focused departmentally.
We might have two or three departments addressing the same PCC so that it might not take longer. We have said the messages that were supposed to go to the Annual People’s Conference are supposed to be taken to the people.
We are getting the ball rolling by the President addressing the PCCs and we have done two already, Midlands and Mashonaland East provinces. I am not sure yet for the next provinces, but all our provinces are ready to be addressed by the President. This is how we are going to communicate.