'We need long-term vision'

HARARE - In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily News on Sunday in Harare last week, Walter Mzembi, the Masvingo South MP and Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister (WM) spoke to our senior writer Tendai Kamhungira (TK) about his vision for hosting the 2034 Fifa World Cup, the perception that he is protecting white interests and his alleged lack of the militant strain of nationalism typical of a Zanu PF cadre.

Below are excerpts of the exclusive interview.

TK: You seem to have come under fire over your World Cup dream, with the general populace thinking that it’s a far-fetched vision. Do you still maintain that we can host the Fifa World Cup in 2034?

WM: When you are dragging people who are trapped in self-pity, anguish and despair, a people whose self esteem has been shattered by recurrent issues, particularly a sanctions-battered economy that may not be answering their “now issues” but casts medium to long term solutions, and on the back of it, one casts an even longer range vision such as the World Cup 2034.

You get the kind of pessimism with which this dream has received because of the unbearable pain arising out of this situational illness that may need temporary pain-killers, whilst I am prescribing a permanent curative drug as a solution to the problem.

That drug is vision. The problem is that most people have no vision beyond their current circumstances.

Life has no meaning without vision and the absence of vision leads to loss of hope. Whenever people are hopeless about their life situations, they become resentful of their inert abilities and those who want to stir it.

My fervent conviction is that Zimbabweans are a gifted lot in many respects, and what is eluding us is the realisation of the self-responsibility to stir our inert abilities so that we put our shoulders to the wheel to ignite the process.

TK: Do you think Zimbabwe is able to host such a big event as the World Cup, without having hosted a regional football cup like the Africa Cup of Nations?

WM: The Africa Cup of Nations is the stopover Pan African journey to the World Cup dream.

At that time, it was more of the political will than the issue of logistical capacity.

Hostess ship is divided into two: the kicking of the ball and competition, and brand Zimbabwe and logistical readiness.

The regional participatory model, which Zimbabwe proposes to lead, combines the collective regionally configured bid that we envisage rendering most of the doubting Thomases questions invalid.

Our current critics are the same people who doubted, insulted, scorned our journey to the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013, which was successfully held and the rest is history.

We demonstrated co-hostess ship of the World Cup of Tourism with Zambia in a true regional integration spirit, this same spirit is now guiding our approach to World Cup 2034 and has been positively received by the region.

TK: Does Zimbabwe have the resources, the proper infrastructure and the capacity to host such an event?

WM: It’s a pity we have individuals driven by personal interests who join debates prematurely without familiarising themselves with the deeper policy content of the discourse that we would have sponsored.

In the process, they miss the regional collective installed capacity and concentrate on denigrating themselves and Zimbabwe in particular.

TK: You were publicly praised by President Robert Mugabe as one of the best ministers. Has this created you any enemies?

WM: In politics, we budget for enemies. But as you would be aware of, an eye for an eye left the world blind.

My philosophy is that when people throw stones at you, it’s because you are a good tree, full of fruits. They see a lot of harvest in you, don’t go down to their level by throwing them back the stones, but throw them your “fruits” so the seeds of yourself may inspire them to change their ways.

TK: You have been attacked left, right and centre, including by shadowy columnist Nathaniel Manheru, with some claiming you are sympathetic to white people’s cause, contradicting the President’s stance. What do you have to say about this?

WM: I have followed a very myopic perspective from the media including the state media on this matter where they attempt to sell the image of the President as non-accommodative of whites, amplifying it with naughty headlines, which do not serve anyone’s interests except their own.

The president whom they inadvertently want to package as racist is in fact a magnanimous, non-racist international citizen. History will always record indelibly his reconciliation statement of 1980, which created a new multi-racial Zimbabwe, lest people forget.

His sacrosanct stance on exclusive land ownership by blacks arising out of the land reform programme cannot violate the principle of a multi-racial society that he espoused.

Any attempt therefore to sell me to the contrary when I push for the respect of property rights of assets licensed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other government entities irrespective of which race occupies them cannot pass for protection of whites.

There is a class in our midst that has developed a predatory and acquisitive behaviour, which often invokes this “white vs black” mantra unnecessarily as a smokescreen for their greed.

TK: You have been accused of being fond of attention, seeking and hopping from one limelight to the next. Do you think you are irritating your colleagues in this regard?

WM: God creates people and gives them personalities and fortunately, mine lends itself very aptly to my current deployment as Tourism and Hospitality minister where creativity and visibility of Brand Zimbabwe are key elements.

TK: And dancing?

WM: In heaven in itself, the most supreme expression of gross national happiness, an indicator I have captured through two successful carnival editions, there is perpetual singing and dancing.

The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in democratic dispensations and even our own president has said as much, and recently he addressed the most recent Central Committee meeting imploring the leadership to keep our people happy.

Countries in similar circumstances of sanctions like ours, Cuba for example, have found hardship relief tonic from song and dance that kept them together even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Our liberation struggle was oiled by pungwes symbolised by political education song and dance.

TK: Critics say you brand yourself as a “moderate” politician who is reasonable and progressive and that you lack the militant strain of nationalism typical of a Zanu PF cadre. What is your comment?

WM: Every generation has its brief and produces a cadre to answer its specific purpose.

We are in “Nehemiah’s time-rebuilding the wall” an exercise that in itself will not go without criticism and conspiracy.

We must budget for negative characters like the Sanballats, Tobiases and Gershems.

The militant cadre you describe was required to militarily liberate the country from colonialism.

Going forward, I probably typify the cadre who, with others, will lead Zimbabwe to prosperity through diplomacy and engagement without selling one’s soul.

You may not remember the story of Cde Disaster, in the late 80s if I recall, who had to be rescued from some mountain hiding from an imaginary enemy well after the war and conclusion of our Independence.

It had to take the intellectual and entrepreneurial militancy of a 21-year-old Takunda Chingonzo at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington DC, to get President Obama to publicly climb down on his sanctions stance. This is the cadre of the now generation!

    Comments (3)

    one of very few level minded cadres in our politics

    mocladie - 10 August 2014

    lol @in politics we budget for enemies.

    Kumbirai - 11 August 2014

    kupaparika chete uku. uchamhara, wamboti wadini?

    Tonyo - 11 August 2014

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