HARARE – As the country draws closer to the 2018 elections, several names have been thrown in the hat for the presidential race.
The Daily News’ deputy chief writer, Tendai Kamhungira, recently caught up with former Industry and International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo on his prospects of standing as an independent presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, among other issues. Here are the excerpts.
Q: You have previously expressed your interest in standing in the presidential elections as an independent candidate, how far have you gone with this idea?
A: As the country approaches the elections in 2018, it has been my honour to be included in the different conversations that people are having about who might potentially lead the country going forward. When the question has been put to me in the past about whether, and if so how, I might run, I have promised the people of Zimbabwe that at the right time, I will announce my decision. That time has not yet arrived. It would be inopportune to preempt that announcement at this stage, as I am is still listening very, very hard to the different views about the solutions to the country’s problems and how the people themselves feel about their democracy and the place that leaders (not rulers) occupy in it.
Q: With your experience in government, do you think you can be the answer that Zimbabwe needs?
A: I think the right way to look at this might be from the point of view of what do the people that are talking about my possible candidature see from my record in academia, business, banking, international finance, wealth creation, business financing and pan-African development studies. But, ultimately, a CV no matter how impressive is not a panacea to Zimbabwe’s problems. It is Zimbabweans who will solve Zimbabwe’s problems. They will do this by coming together as a people and formulating solutions to the problems. That includes coming together as a people to create the kind of democracy that Zimbabwe needs, a democracy where the only qualifier for having a voice and a stake is not your history or sex or origin or association with this or that person but our common denominator: that of being Zimbabwean. It means coming together and saying we cannot afford to lose generations of our youth to vending, the Diaspora or despair. It means coming together to say that we cannot kick our obvious problems into the long grass, hoping that one person will arise and magically solve them. It means standing up as a people and saying we have a problem, and here is what we, as people, are going to do about it. It means getting to work. Clearly, once you frame the issue like that, the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems cannot be Nkosana Moyo, but the people of this great nation.
Q: President Robert Mugabe once described you as a coward when you resigned from government, do you think he was fair to you and what motivated you to leave the government?
A: I have already put on record through my open letter to president Mugabe, which is publicly available, the circumstances of my resignation. In it, I have categorically stated that I went to talk to the president about my decision. The president countered by saying that he had appointed me to address those problems, but I pointed to specific instances where I had given advice or tried to change things but he had failed to act on that advice. I have continued to keep confidential the reasons I gave and the specific instances I mentioned to the president but since leaving government, events have shown through the government’s handling of the economy and indeed every other aspect of its mandate, that there are serious fundamental failings within it. But, more importantly, I believe very strongly that no one benefits from throwing insults around and that equally, nothing is gained by responding to them. Zimbabweans deserve better than have those in the public arena hurl insults at one another and calling each other names like coward or what have you. And when someone is in a position where they find themselves victim to such insults, it is important that one looks at it as a sign that there is something about you that threatens the one doing the insulting. Ultimately, Zimbabweans must have a final say on who is what in their public space.
Q: Do you think you have what it takes to win against Mugabe, amid claims that Zanu PF rigs elections?
A: Despite what I think, I believe that it would be very presumptuous to answer that question in the affirmative. I sincerely believe that Zimbabweans should decide who has what it takes to win any election. Not those running the elections, not those competing in them and certainly not those yet to compete in them. The new Constitution, which was agreed by Zimbabweans in a referendum, and the new electoral landscape that emanates from there, if implemented fully, should ideally see our democracy move our from contestations around election outcomes to contestations around ideas to take the country back to greatness. And for that to happen, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our elections are free and fair, that everyone who is eligible registers to vote and takes part. That is an obligation for us all, including government.
Q: What is your take on the idea of a coalition as the only way to remove Zanu PF from power?
A: The problem with that question is that it starts on the wrong premise. Democracy should not be about personalities or parties, but about the “demos” (the people). Are the people, rather than political parties, choosing a coalition? If so, then the politicians must go where the people are. It cannot be and should never be the other way round, that politicians agree on a coalition of positions and then attempt to bring the people to them. Such a coalition is not about the people, but about arranging who gets what if we win. That cannot be right. So, to frame the question better, rather ask this: in discussions about a coalition, have you heard more about the people and their vision for Zimbabwe, or about who will occupy what position? Your answer to that must tell you whether all talk about coalitions is about the politicians going to where the people are, or the other way round. And once you have your answer, this question does not arise.
Q: There are claims that the idea of another candidate outside the coalition would divide the opposition vote in a way that would give Zanu PF an upper-hand and the ultimate win like what happened with Simba Makoni in 2008. What is your comment on this assertion?
A: There are many permutations that have been put on the table about the election in 2008. In addition to the one you have just outlined, there is the more popular one that the election was rigged. Surely both cannot be right. Either Simba Makoni cost Morgan Tsvangirai the election or it was rigged and Makoni’s role didn’t affect anything. I suspect that Zimbabweans know what happened in 2008. Which then suggests that those who make this claim about splitting the votes are falling into that trap of thinking that the democratic space is finite. They also fail to count the fact that Makoni would have activated certain voters who otherwise would not have bothered to vote with the choices that were available.
Q: There some sections of society that believes you are a Zanu PF project, and have the intention to divide the votes, what is your comment to this claim?
A: No, that is not the case. This question goes back to the one on splitting the vote, which I have answered. But more than that, it also speaks to how toxic our politics has become, which is a very bad thing in that it shortchanges Zimbabweans. The idea of choice must be something to be celebrated, not feared or treated with suspicion. When I walk into a shop, I do not want to find one type of toothpaste or one type of shirt. I should have a choice. On graduating from school, I ought not to find that the only choice for job on the market is one: vending. On starting a family, I should not find that the only housing choice open to me is one: lodging. On looking at school options for my children, I should not discover that there is only one option available: despair. Would you like to live in a world where the only football team you had to support was your current team’s arch rivals? Where the only choice of music was the one you hate? Now, if we like choice in everything that we have or do, why should choice around those that have the solemn duty to serve us be treated with suspicion? Iron sharpens iron: to get good politicians, the people need to be presented with an actual choice, not “either black or black.” There will be some on the field offering high sounding pledges but without the skill to show that this is possible.