'What is that Mugabe, Tsvangirai have done?'

HARARE - What is better to have loads of money which cannot buy anything or have goods in shops which no money can buy?

This question often arose during the hyperinflationary environment whenever friends exchanged banter each time they changed foreign currency on the black market.

Shops were empty but people had money.

With the formation of the inclusive government, supermarkets and retail shops are well stocked although most goods are pricey.

Simba Makoni, president of Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD), however, railed at both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe for doing little to change the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“They have done nothing. I am quite happy for Mugabe to come and put on his five fingers on good things that he has done in the last four years since he became President of the inclusive government and Morgan Tsvangirai to say the same things since he became Prime Minister.

“Every year they allocate themselves new motor vehicles but there are no books in schools. We got to the ignominious situation where 20 pupils were sharing one book yet we pride ourselves as having the best education system in the world.

“You get to a situation where someone goes to the casual department at the national referral hospital and they cannot be given painkillers while they are waiting to be seen by a doctor and you claim you have the best health service in the continent or even in the world,” said Makoni.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are largely credited with bringing normalcy in the economy although critics argue that it is stability not progress.

Makoni said any serious government was measured against progress in social services such as health and education.

“Mugabe caps thousands of graduates every year in the state universities. I wonder why he does not feel the pain that he is putting all these graduates into a bleak life. It does not touch him. But he likes the glory and the ceremony of tapping their heads knowing they have no hope of making a decent living at all.

“Mugabe’s minister of Education cannot give students going to the University of Zimbabwe of which he is chancellor, scholarships. Mugabe is chancellor of eight state universities. There are no scholarships for people going there by his government.

“But he can afford to send 1 500 - 2 000 students on a Presidential scholarship scheme to Fort Hare, Monash, UCT and even Stellenbosch.

“Why is that Mugabe as a person can give computers to schools but his ministry of Education cannot supply computers to schools? Where does he get this resource that his government that he is head of cannot.

“Why is he happy to launch personal programmes when his mandate as chief executive of Zimbabwe incorporated is to enable systems and institutions to deliver to citizens? These are key questions that Mugabe cannot answer,” said Makoni.

He accused the main parties in the inclusive government for having been engaged in as contest of power rather focusing on key issues.

Makoni said the collapse of health services and public health infrastructure was the reason why Zimbabweans confront typhoid and dysentery, yet these had been eradicated by colonialists and settlers.

The MKD leader bemoaned the political environment which he said the inclusive government had failed to tackle decisively.

While there has been considerable progress on the new constitution-making process, Makoni favours one that does not just limit Presidential terms but also age.

“If you have not made an impact in those two terms, you are not going to make an impact in another five terms. If you turn 70, your time is up. Go and retire and relax and share your wisdom and experiences with the younger people.

Create space for other people to come and do what you have tried to do before. It is a term limit, it is an age limit.

He said MKD was building to prepare the party to participate in national affairs on an ongoing basis which were not timed to specific events.

“We are not doing anything specifically associated with elections but we are doing things that will make our party relevant in Zimbabweans’ everyday lives at any time, including election time.

“We are not as strong nor as visible nor as loud as we would like to be that is why we are building the party so as we are stronger, more visible and more audible.

“The environment in which we are in Zimbabwe is not easy for an initiative like we are engaged in right now. There is a lot of fear among our people. Intimidation is still quite rife,” Makoni said.

“But we are not deterred because one major uplift we have is the knowledge not only that people are yearning for an alternative to what I call MDC PF but people find what we stand for closer to their hearts and their minds, closer to their yearnings in life than what MDC PF stands for.

“We have a potential to become the largest party in Zimbabwe primarily because if you look at the profile of Zimbabwe, current and foreseeable electorate, it is the younger people aged 35 and below, who at the moment have no obvious political home.

“They do not associate with Zanu PF, they do not have the experiences of the struggle they also are finding the MDC not responding to their yearnings they entered adulthood when the country was already in serious difficulties.

“If we present ourselves with the values that we are offering, with the principles that we are advocating sufficiently to the younger population of Zimbabwe, we see ourselves as the largest single political party in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Makoni refused to be blamed for splitting the votes in 2008.

Political analysts and MKD rivals accused the former Zimpapers chief executive officer of saving Mugabe by entering the Presidential race.

“The people who voted for me were not going to vote for either Mugabe or Tsvangirai in 2008. I did not steal any of Mugabe’s votes or Tsvangirai’s votes. But even assuming that I had, isn’t that the essence of democracy?

“People were offered a choice and people believed this was a better choice to the other two and they exercised their right of choice. Why is it presented as something wrong?

I did not split anybody’s vote; the people who voted for me were not going to vote for Mugabe or Tsvangirai.

“Even if they were, it was only because they had no better choice. When I came forward, they found a better proposition to Mugabe or Tsvangirai’s and they came to support me. That is what democracy is all about. Nobody should find fault with my participating in the 2008 Presidential elections. They have to be very small minded”.

He said the plan was that he would stand as an independent candidate and announce at the earliest opportunity.

February 5, 2008, said Makoni, became the earliest practical opportunity to announce and launch his presidential campaign.

This was in response to the blame from former Zanu PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa who said Makoni rushed to announce his candidature before the “agreed time’’.

“But I would say the hue and cry I got at the time and still hear of people right now is that you came in too late.

Now if February 5 was too early when everybody else is saying it was too late you did not give yourself enough time I wonder when would have been time according to that plan.

I can tell you definitively, there was no plan to come later than when I did. There was a plan to come even earlier but that was constrained but a number of considerations,” explained Makoni.

He said the quest for change within Zanu PF that had been on the table for a long time was involved in that.

“The first plan was to make change within. It was only at the very late stage, which why I also launched my campaign very late, when we realised that it wasn’t going to be possible to have a different candidate from Robert Mugabe. But the planning, the discussion, the search for change from within the party had been on the table for decades.

There are many ways of killing a cat.

And always standing on a high mountain and shouting at the highest level of your voice is not always the most effective way of influencing change,” Makoni told the Daily News.

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