Q: Do you think there has been any improvement in the lives of the people 16 months into the transitional government?
PM: Sixteen months into the transitional government one sees stagnation in a number of areas. For instance, on the economy we haven’t seen lines of credit significantly being channelled into industry. This in itself is a limiting factor.The initial burst of enthusiasm of the transitional government has largely been affected by some of the policies announced like the indigenisation regulations which have sent wrong signals about the practicality and intention of the policies, not about the principle.
We have also seen a slow pace in fully operationalising the commissions that have been set up to do their work. We still hear of incidences of interference with, for instance, the constitutional reform process and intimidation. But despite all this, I think there is general goodwill towards the direction we have taken. It maybe stagnating but certainly moving towards an ideal environment.
Q: What is causing this stagnation?
PM: These are matters that the principals have to deal with. Unfortunately for the last two or three months the principals have not been regularly meeting because of absence from the country on government business. I’m hoping that we are now going to do that so that we deal with the final report of the negotiators. We must also look at government to assess what is working and what is not working.
Q: What is the status of the indigenisation regulations?
PM: Well the minister (Saviour Kasukuwere) has been given time to review the indigenisation regulations and bring them back to cabinet for discussion on their substantive content and to allow for consultation with various sectors of the economy. The draft revised regulations were presented to cabinet last week.
Q: You have been accused of blocking indigenisation, what do you say to that?
PM: Not at all. I think there is national convergence on the principle of citizenship empowerment. The only difference was on the methodology and modalities of implementing empowerment programmes.
Q: Can you comment on reports that President Mugabe is already considering candidates for appointment on the Land Commission? Have you been consulted on this?
PM: I have not been consulted on that. In fact I would be the first to know.
Q: This brings us to the appointments of judges, can you comment on that?
PM: It is very clear in the law and in the GPA when it comes to the question of senior appointments like that. I’m sure that the minister (Patrick Chinamasa) responsible for the appointments of these judges is part of the negotiating team and he knows what should have been done.
Q: What is your stance then?
PM: I believe the appointments should be regularised in terms of the law so the appointments become regular otherwise it will be an unconstitutional act.
Q: Does it mean then that since they were already appointed you will just be asked to rubberstamp these appointments?
PM: Not at all. Just like we have appointed all these other commissions, it was not a mere rubberstamping exercise. It’s a very serious process of examining the merits of the individuals and the position on offer. In this case the Judicial Services Commission should have made submissions to the leadership to consider whoever was suitable for appointment.This matter is still subject for discussion. I hope people realise that there is something irregular about the appointments and that it needs to be rectified.
Q: Prime Minister, violence has erupted in some parts of the country, will this not affect the constitutional reform process?
PM: We hear incidents of interference with the public consultation, the intimidation and the frog-marching of people to take certain positions. That will undermine the legitimacy of the exercise and I hope that politically we will be able to remove that kind of fear so that people can freely express themselves.
Q: Harare City councillors have produced a damning report which names Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and other politicians as being involved in illegal land deals. The councillors have made a report to the police but nothing has been done and yet on the other hand the councillors have been charged with criminal defamation. What’s your comment?
PM: Well that was intimidation of the highest order. In fact criminal defamation is an intimidation tool to try to bully people into silence. I want to encourage all councillors to deal with the issue of corruption because it is within their mandate to uncover graft when they see it. This is not a witch-hunt.
Q: How can you competently fight corruption when the Anti-Corruption Commission has still not been constituted?
PM: There was a small delay which was extended by the Principals not meeting regularly. The Standing Rules and Orders Committee has considered the names and what is remaining now is a date for their swearing in.
Q: When is Senator Roy Bennett going to be sworn in?
PM: I’m going to meet the president on that because now that he has been cleared he should be sworn in.
Q: Prime Minister, are we going for elections next year?
PM: Elections will be held after the constitutional reform process. You cannot talk about a date for the elections when the constitutional reform process has not been carried out. You will be putting the cart before the horse.
Q: Have you considered a Cabinet reshuffle?
PM: No, I have not considered that. Should it be necessary we will make the necessary changes. But for now I don’t think we will do that.
Q: Could you describe your relationship with your civil society partners?
PM: We have tried to initiate regular contact with our civil society partners. I’m sure that they cannot complain that we have totally ignored civil society participation in this democratic struggle.
Q: Some independent daily papers have been registered by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) as part of your efforts to free the media. How do you see the media environment going forward?
PM: That’s positive. The thing is the more newspapers we have, the more open the
media space becomes and more voices reflected in the newspapers the better for this country.
Q: If any of the commissions do not carry out their mandate, do you have the power to summon them?
PM: I have the power to summon the ZMC and indeed any other commission.