ZANU PF Harare provincial member and former Zimbabwe Youth Council chairperson Acie Lumumba (AL) last week sent shockwaves across the corridors of power and public domain after accusing Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao of corruption and extortion, among a litany of other allegations. This was after he was relieved of his duties as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Youth Empowerment Strategy for Investment, hardly a week after his appointment. Zimbabwe Independent political reporter Elias Mambo (EM) caught up with Lumumba this week and discussed the dramatic events taking place at the Indigenisation ministry, his real names and background, among many other issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.
EM: Who is Acie Lumumba and is this his your name?
AL: I am Lumumba William Gerald Mutumanje, born September 29 1988 in Epworth in Harare. I am the son of an amazing woman, who came from the poorest of background working small jobs mainly as a domestic helper, but she was able to look after all five of us until we charted our own courses in life. My step-father was pretty much the father I knew growing up and he was of Congolese-Malawian decent. Only last year I learnt who my real father was, and that was a nerve-wrecking experience. I don’t really want to go into detail on it in this interview, but for the avoidance of doubt my roots are in Masvingo, Chivi District to be specific.
EM: How did you find your way into politics?
AL: Growing up in Epworth I watched my mother and people round her pray to God for help and help never really showed up, while I could never speak for God or understand his ways I understood the ways of men and politicians, too, would never come, they never cared about their people. Epworth then was a squatter camp and the place which no one cared about. So I always used to tell my mother in case God never showed up, I would become a politician and force government to do the right thing — care for its people.
I came back home full-time in 2009 from abroad and I used all the resources I had gathered abroad to move my family and friends out of poverty, but my efforts alone where not enough. I needed more ammunition and to me politics was the arena in which I could cause really impact towards giving the people of Epworth a chance of ever realising that they too where a stakeholder in Zimbabwe. So that’s why I joined politics.
EM: What has precipitated the fallout between you and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao whom you accuse of corruption?
AL: Firstly, minister Zhuwao over the years has been a big brother to most of us upcoming politicians and I am eternally grateful for that. The fallout was precipitated by his unjustified decision to fire me.
Everything could have been resolved internally had the option been given a chance. I requested that chance, but the minister then came after my person and livelihood so I had to set the record straight.
EM: And this led to you telling it all in that video. Where you bitter?
AL: I wasn’t bitter, I was angry because I believed we had a chance to deliver meaningful empowerment to the youth of Zimbabwe. I was convinced this party I loved so much would keep its promise to create 2,2 million jobs and we could secure President Robert Mugabe’s legacy but he threw all that out the window. And now, mark my words, as long as he is in that ministry we will not create even 10% of those jobs; it will all be a waste of time.
It makes me angry that he could not see the bigger picture, but then again it is beyond my power now.
EM: What exactly caused the fallout?
AL: Before I got fired, I had internal issues with how the ministry was being administered and I had raised these issues. I had not raised the flags because like I said they are matters I feel could be resolved internally.
EM: What were those issues?
AL: The issues included the total lack of involvement of public officials in public business. The calibre of people brought into the youth empowerment steering committee was super-strange. Most of the people had never interacted with youth empowerment at a level of formulating the strategy, especially the female colleagues. These were all about high heels and ‘I know the minister personally’, that sort of thing, and this made it very difficult to function.
This brewing in the background caused the implosion on his part, him now giving me an ultimatum and blackmailing me in order to keep my job.
He asked me to deliver 2,5% equity stake of Old Mutual to his office in two days and this caused the explosion on me.
All the issues of conflict of interests and misuse of funds have nothing to do with my getting fired. It is the women and bribery scandals that caused this mess. And I feel sorry for the people that this is what officials are doing with their trust.
EM: How where you supposed to secure the 2,5% shareholding from Old Mutual for Zhuwao?
AL: His exact words as he handed me my dismal letter were: “I don’t want the money (referring to the alleged abused funds amounting to US$17 000); if you say your loyalties are with me, I am giving you until Friday to come back here with the (Old Mutual) share certificate, otherwise I give you the letter (of dismissal). I want those shares.
He insisted I should go and talk to my contacts at Old Mutual and get the deal done for him.
EM: Do you have evidence to this?
AL: Oh yes I do, and it is hard evidence which can be used when push comes to shove.
EM: The minister came out admitting his misinterpretation of Indigenisation; does he now have the correct interpretation of youth empowerment programme?
AL: For the sake of the young generation in this country I really hope he now gets it!
EM: Where to from now since the youth league is calling for your ouster?
AL: The comments of my ouster came from Harare provincial youth league chairperson Edson Takataka apparently, but I don’t believe them, the comments where in English and I have known Takataka for many years, that boy cannot speak a sentence in English.
I have a great working relationship with the Youth League. I do have every intention of working tirelessly for Zanu PF to ensure we keep our promise to the people, and that is what I am focused on politically — supporting the president to fulfil his promises.
I know they will try to come after me to throw me under the bus, but I am the type that turns the bus upside down, handikwane pasi pebhazi (I can’t fit under the bus). Who is Zhuwao? He has no constituency. I actually have one and I bring votes to the party. I am not afraid. I will overcome all this.