Exclusive interview with Tsvangirai

HARARE - Our News Editor Gift Phiri (GP) talks to MDC leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MT).

Below are excerpts of the interview.

GP: A massive crowd turned out on Monday to rally behind you at your final star rally in Harare. What do you read into this?

MT: You know, ever since the start of this campaign, people underestimated the determination of the people to have change.

And as we went around (the country), you could see and feel the momentum. This Harare rally just represents a culmination of the accumulation of the national mood that is so determined to have change. It will be a travesty for someone to try to interfere with that.

GP: You have expressed vote rigging fears. What steps have you taken to avert electoral fraud in this decisive election?

MT: I think its a strategic question that cannot be answered in a question.

What I can assure you is that the people of Zimbabwe were shortchanged in 2002 and 2008. This time I think they have to draw a line in the sand and say as far as we are concerned, we are going to defend our victory.

GP: Why not boycott the election if its unfair?

MT: If the MDC boycotts the election, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party will simply declare victory on polling day.

GP: Will you accept defeat if you lose?

MT: That is impossible.

GP: Let us say you win the election, there has been threats to veto the transition, to block the transfer of power. How do you plan to go round that?

MT: Power transfer would have already happened through the people’s expression at the ballot.

There is no power transfer through any other mechanism but through the ballot.

If it becomes anything other than that, it becomes a subversion of the people’s mandate. We do not talk about that.

GP: How do you plan to handle the losers in the event that you win?

MT: As I have said, in any contest, a genuine contest, there is always a winner and a loser.

But at the end of the day, in a political contest, because you have participated in a process in which you all feel was fair, you have to congratulate the winner and you must be magnanimous to the loser. For politics, there are no winners, there are no losers.

It is about determining whose agenda is going to determine the path for their future, that is all. But we are all Zimbabweans, and ultimately what each government will try to do is to maximise the benefits to Zimbabweans, rather than undermine the benefits to Zimbabweans.

GP: There are heads of the security sector who say they will never salute you even if you get the people’s mandate. How do you plan to deal with this?

MT: First and foremost as I have said, I believe in a security establishment that defends the country.

So we start with the national security strategy which was agreed in the National Security Council.

It defines how you are going to relate to the security sector. Secondly, as a matter of principle, I believe in professional work that promotions should be on merit, that these are national institutions and they are not partisan political issues.

For somebody to stand up and say I will not accept the mandate of the people, it is idle to say the least. It then becomes the defence of the people’s mandate against defence of the status quo.

GP: What type of government do you envisage?

MT: We have always committed ourselves to a reasonably leaner government not probably more than 20 ministers, but there are a number interventions that are required.

The bureaucracy itself through the Public Service Commission must change its attitude.

So we will be in a position of reviewing and transforming the government so that its in line with our mandate and our thrust.

So, not only do you determine government by the size of the ministries, but also determined by the competence of the bureaucracy.

GP: Are we likely to see changes in the superstructure?

MT: There is going to be changes, obviously I am not going to have the same Cabinet as Mugabe.

And of course all permanent secretaries in terms of the new Constitution have to serve a determined period.

So it means all permanent secretaries, their contracts have to be reviewed.

GP: The country has gone through a period of sustained turmoil and pain. How do you plan to tackle transitional justice?

MT: You know what is painful, it is for people whose houses have been destroyed by (Operation) Murambatsvina when they are being roughshod to go to a meeting of Zanu PF.

What we will like to see about transitional justice is that the truth must be told because the truth sets us free. As far as I am concerned, truth and reconciliation is a must, and it is there in the new Constitution.

GP: And what about victims of the Gukurahundi genocide, Murambatsvina do they get reparations?

MT: It is the same commission that has to handle those matters. If it is an independent commission, we will wait for their recommendation. How do they intend to tackle the matter in terms of their mandate.

GP: Corruption is pervasive. How do you plan to end this scourge?

MT: Corruption starts at the top contrary to general view that corruption starts at the bottom, it does not.

Corruption starts at the top. If the top is clean, there is no way those at the lower echelons of the body politic behave otherwise because there are disincentives for bad behaviour by sanctions taken from the top. So if you start from the top, if the top is clean,  the bottom will be okay.

GP: Are you ready to govern?

MT: It is not even a question of are you ready to govern, but when you govern. I articulated the plan.

I said as president, these are things I am going to do and they revolve around the governance culture, around reviving the economy, revolve around reviving the infrastructure, a particular focus on various interventions in various sectors.

They involve attracting or healing our relations with the international community which is at an all-time low. So there is a programme of action regarding what the MDC president and his team are going to do to reverse the decline.

GP: Zanu PF claims you will reverse land reform and the indigenisation programme. What exactly do you plan to do with the two if you romp to victory?

MT: We are not Zanu PF. Let them articulate their policies, if they are popular with the people, let the people vote for them. But for us, it is about creating new wealth, not sharing a small cake.

For us, it is about increasing agricultural output and not just an emotional attachment to the land. So land reform is an emotional issue but it is also a productivity challenge

GP: In your manifesto you talk of creating a million jobs. How exactly do you intend to go about that?

MT: You have got a situation in which even (Tourism minister Walter) Mzembi says you can create 1,2 million jobs in the tourism industry alone. So it is possible. But we are not going to rely on that.

What we are saying is that we need to sit down with Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Industry to revive collapsing industries, textile industry, clothing industry, food industry, all these sectors are potential job creators.

The other potential job creator is infrastructure. Open up dual roads in our major trunk roads, open up our railways, open up Batoka electricity generation, open up sub-Kariba, you will have so much activity and yet that is an enabling instrument.

So while we invest in infrastructure, we will able to create jobs. We used to have 1,6 million jobs. We lost a million.

All we need to do is bring this country where it was, at the most vibrant level where it ever reached by creating one million jobs. In new areas like new mining ventures, open up closed mines, you create jobs. If the mining industry used to employ 60 000, now its almost 30 000 it means between 30 000 to 35 000 lost their jobs.

GP: What are your plans for the Zim-dollar?

MT: It will not return until such a time as we have got sufficient gold reserves to sustain it.

Otherwise you go back to the hyperinflation conditions. You will be forced to print money to pay for your debts. And that is what has caused problems.

GP: What will you like to tell voters going into the ballot booth on Wednesday (today)?

MT: We have to ensure that, Wednesday (today) is not just an event. Wednesday (today) is part of a process that we are going to roll out as soon as we are given the mandate. So Wednesday (today) is the start of a process of confidence building, of revival.

GP: The campaign has been hectic, have you spoken to President (Robert) Mugabe since you started the campaign?

MT: No we have not spoken. (They met for the first time yesterday)

GP: Why?

MT: He has not convened our usual Monday meetings.

He has even refused to give me my two Prados that were impounded. He is the one who said, no you can’t give them.

GP: Let us say you are elected president, how are you going to treat him? Are you going to pursue him?

MT: There will be no special treatment, he will only get the treatment former presidents deserve. He is a former president ka, so there are privileges and status that go with being a former president, that he will be entitled.

And besides, why should we pursue him when we have got so much on our table to deal with.

Instead of focusing on this old man, we will have to focus on the agenda that we have set for ourselves.

GP: At his National Sports Stadium rally, he threatened that he is going to get you arrested if you announce the results as you plan to do. What is you reaction?

MT: Arrest me for what? When you have a contender to power threatening another contender, where have you seen that? What powers will you be using?

Zvakafanana nekuti mose muri kutamba bhora umwe player goes and kicks the referee and takes the whistle and run. (Laughs) Or where the referee throws the whistle away and joins the other team.

I mean, it is ridiculous to even think one can make that kind of statement. We will be taking our results from our polling stations.

GP: But there are plans by Zec to move the tallying of votes away from polling stations?

MT: We will not allow it, I want to tell you, we will not allow it. We will not allow movement of boxes. And the law does not allow it. We will not disobey the law.

The law says there shall be counting at polling stations. And that is going to obtain.

No box is going to move out of any polling station until the results have been pinned outside the polling station and everyone is satisfied.

So what is wrong with me as Tsvangirai to collect all the information about our results? We are not violating the law. I will not announce national results, I will announce my results. Is that illegal?

GP: So there will definitely be a parallel voter tabulation being done by the MDC?

MT: Yes, definitely, we will do that. We will be collecting all our results and at the appropriate time, we will tell our people we have won.

They will be celebrating. Oh, yes. Why should we wait for the official announcement which comes four, five days later when we have already won.

We are not interfering with the national announcement, we are just saying varume, tahwina. Awa maresults edu aya. Taita parallel voter tabulation yedu, tatora maresults edu eku mapolling stations ta adder.

These are the results, we now have 75 percent in our favour. Womirira hanzi kuti (Zec chairwoman Rita) Makarau ataure. Hatidaro.

GP: You addressed almost 10 times the number of your opponent’s rallies...

MT: Mudhara hapana chaakambotadza. Musafunga kuti anga achienda achiti ndisupportei , anga achiti veduwe, vanhu, ndokutendai nekundisupporter bha bhai ndaakuenda kunozorora, it was nice doing business with you, makandisapotao all these years.

Comments (5)

All the best Mr President hopefully the old man doesnt come with something up his sleev

Mfana Ka Sobhuku... - 31 July 2013

Mr MT, the Old Fox should never be trusted. He always comes with new dirty tricks. This is the time for utmost care and alertness. He has nothing to lose. It is Grace who has everything to lose because she is still enjoying State House and its unlimited comforts.

Chenjerai Hove - 31 July 2013

The most import fact in President MT statement is to know that he has another strategy B in place for Zimbabweans should Mugabe lose but refuse to quit power.

Ziziharinanyanga - 31 July 2013

Well done you are the new President. May you prosper in leading and shedding the light for this nation. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!

Tafadzwa Ganya - 31 July 2013

i dont doubt you SAVE. you are now mature in politics. siyayi vasingabvume vadero asi imwi mwakora. Gos Bless you in the new office and please do not forget your lost children. taneta nekudzungaira muma Diaspora. toda kuuyawo kumba kana todzokera toonekawo kwete kuita zvekutiza neusiku TANETA SAVE!

silvanos - 31 July 2013

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