Q: Today 15 September marks the anniversary of the signing of the GPA. On reflection do you think it was the right decision to make?
PM: We made a decision in the best interests of the people but acknowledging that it is not what they voted for. It is not what was the optimal condition they would like to see especially if people had struggled for 10 years to bring real change to the people. We knew this was not real change but we provided a lifeline to people who were desperate and crying for some form of a resolution. We did that with all this in mind. So it was a right decision to rescue the country. I think every Zimbabwean will tell you that the decision was right because we rescued the country from a precipice.
Q: What have you achieved since the signing of the GPA?
PM: There has been progress in a number of areas. We have reduced tension across the political divide. There was a sense of hope to the people when we opened schools and hospitals that had closed down. We have started attracting international investment to the country and creating more business opportunities. The confidence of our business community has grown. Generally, it is more of a situation where we provided hope where there was despair.
However it does not mean it was all necessarily an easy ride. No. We have had our disappointments and frustrations.
But overally, we can say we brought life into our country’s economy and hope to our people.
Q: What were the disappointments?
PM: We went in and we have shown our sincerity and our commitment and were conciliatory to our opponents.
But it would appear our opponents or our colleagues who are in Zanu PF, have not embarked on a paradigm shift. You still have the emphasis of apportioning blame on the MDC. There is emphasis of apportioning success on Zanu PF by the State media. The hate language in the state media is incessant.
I will give you an example of today’s (Tuesday) Herald. It has five negative articles on MDC and you would think that we are running a parallel government. We have seen our MPs being persecuted.
I am not just talking about the ordinary members of our structures. There are still incidents of violence. The Public Service Commission has not demonstrated the new dispensation.
Some of my staff has not been appointed. My security details have not been incorporated or integrated into the structure of the government although they will continue working.
The constitutional process seems to be struggling to take off. The national healing programme seems to be up there and not having an impact on the people. So while we have committed from our side of the bargain, I think Zanu PF is far from that.
Q: Are you running a parallel government as reported in state media?
PM: How do I run a parallel government when the definition of my role is to supervise all ministers? I supervise all ministers; there is a Council of Ministers I chair. We have come out of a government retreat organised by my office for the whole cabinet to define the entire programme for the rest of this year and the year 2010. The budgeting process is being done transparently with the participation of all ministers. In fact, I would say those who think there is a parallel government are those that report to the President (Robert Mugabe) without reporting to the Prime Minister as per procedure.
I am the first line of supervision. Therefore we have a single hierarchical structure in this government.
Q: What about cases where some ministers make decisions on behalf of the country without cabinet approval, for example Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa withdrawing the country from the Sadc Tribunal?
PM: The cabinet is very much seized with the issue. Chinamasa’s position regarding the Sadc Tribunal is not a policy position. I do not recall any cabinet sitting discussing the issue of the Sadc Tribunal. As long as we do not have a collective decision it remains Chinamasa’s decision as an individual.
Q: It seems you are having problems with some of these ministers. For example, the Information minister seems to be promoting hate language in the state media without restraint. Do you wield any real power in this government?
PM: I think there are things that you must understand. My attitude has always been that let us give this co-habitation a chance.
As I said, I was very sincere and I am very sincere about it. But it also depends on whether the other side is honouring this bargain. There are several instances you can point out where an act of bad faith is being demonstrated. Like the state media, we know that it is not the problem of the state media editors. The problem is with George Charamba (President Mugabe’s spokesman) who is giving directions and acting as an overzealous commissar of Zanu PF. The political divisions are being emphasised, but to whose benefit?
It is seven months into government. Everyone is trying to adjust their behaviour to the new situation. I think I can say to a larger extent I have won the confidence of everyone across the political divide that the Prime Minister has a significant role to play, as he has the executive authority over these ministers and that is why there is the Council of Ministers. There are two people who are mentioned by name and in the GPA and the Constitution, the president and the prime minister.
Q: Some groups have described the performance of some of your ministers such as Giles Mutsekwa at Home Affairs as disappointing. For example, police still harass innocent protestors and the state is using the same ministry to fight boardroom coups, for instance, in the Meikles specification case. What is your position?
PM: We should not use state power to abuse innocent people otherwise we will be no different from dictators. We cannot also use state power to fight corporate boardroom wrangles. What has that got to do with us?
In fact, we have brought that to the attention of minister Mutsekwa and told him he cannot do that. It is not an issue for the state, it is an issue for the boardroom. If (John) Moxon and Nigel Chanakira are fighting their wars and if they fail to agree then they should go to court. This specification (of Meikles) can’t stay.
Q: What is your position on the issue of restrictive measures imposed on some individuals by the West?
PM: The other side of restrictive measures is the rule of law. The rule of law on one side and restrictive measures on the other side. So we have agreed in cabinet that we need to have a strategic discussion on this debate. Why only talk about restrictive measures? Talk about the rule of law, the violence against the people, good governance practices.
Talk about real change to the people’s lives. I have initiated dialogue with those countries with a view to assist my partners in government affected by the measures and we can see progress. Australia has announced that they are re-engaging us. The EU dialogue is on track and a high level delegation was here just last week. The United States Congressional team was in the country recently and both the EU delegation and US congressional team met with President Mugabe as well, something unimaginable just a few months ago. But this is happening because I am working to end this isolation. In fact when we have these engagements, part of the agenda is the issue of restrictive measures. But Zanu PF people have to play their part as well. We won’t have any restrictive measures to talk of if we restore the rule of law and implement the GPA.
Q: You have been complaining about the failure by Zanu PF to respect the GPA. What would be your breaking point?
PM: The point is that it is incumbent upon the parties to fulfil the GPA. We have done our part of the bargain. It is the other party, Zanu PF, which should stop all this nonsense, to stop all these violations. The other thing is that we have a guarantor which is Sadc. There is need to review this government as per the Sadc January resolution. And in the review we talk about the outstanding issues, we talk about the performance of government, we talk about even revisiting the ministerial allocations, including the co-ministering of Home Affairs.
All these are issues are within the Troika of Sadc. The GPA is not just a piece of paper. The people of Zimbabwe must actually own the agreement. They must understand how that agreement impacts on their lives. It’s not just a leadership issue. It is for the people. It must be owned by Zimbabweans.
Q: Going forward, what should Zimbabweans expect from their prime minister?
PM: Well, first of all we are committed to real change. We want people to live peacefully. We want them to have more freedoms. We want prosperity among our people. What they should expect from this government is to move towards the fulfilment, the full implementation of the GPA and the translation of this agreement into real life. We want them to restart their lives and improve their lives and we will not rest until this is achieved.
We have done our part of the bargain. It is the other party, Zanu PF, which should stop all this nonsense, to stop all these violations. –– PM’s Newsletter.