HARARE – Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa claims he was never part of a faction but respected the elected officials including Joice Mujuru whom he says betrayed him.
Mliswa spoke to Daily News Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki and below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: You were sacked for putting your lot with Joice Mujuru but now you appear to differ with her in ideology, where is the source of these differences?
A: The ideology remains the same. My support for Amai Mujuru was from a point that she was the second president and second secretary of the party duly elected at a Congress, and supporting the president. So it was the office not the individual that I supported.
And being a provincial chairperson, being a principled person and going with what people wanted, I could not divert, I could not be factional because when you then go the other side, you become factional.
You’ve got to work with the status quo. The status quo was the congress which elected Cde Mugabe as president and first secretary, it elected Joice Mujuru as second president and second secretary, it elected the late John Nkomo and it elected SK Moyo as the national chairman.
That was a democratic process and one must respect that democratic process. Not only that, this was the very same team that resoundingly won the election by two thirds. So it was a winning team. There was no indication at all that they were not getting along.
The president himself was aware of the factions in Zanu PF and he also was aware that the factions started at the Politburo level.
But he never acted on that. He then chose to now target innocent people who were never part of this. You are talking about nine provincial chairmen, for example, who some of them fought for this country.
John Mvundura (Manicaland) fought for this country; he was second in command chief of protocol in the war, you had Luke Mushore (Mash Central) who trained people like Cde Joice Mujuru to go to war, you had people like Ray Kaukonde (Mash East) who fought in the liberation struggle, you had people like Killian Gwanetsa (Masvingo) a brigadier general in the army, Callistus Ndlovu (Bulawayo), these were seasoned people.
At no point would they have gone against the president because they are the very same people who endorsed him during the struggle for him to lead them.
At no point was anybody working to oust the president. The president himself in on record encouraging Mai Mujuru kuti the sky is the limit for you. It was not me. And basically what he was saying was you must look beyond just being the vice president.
I think she (Mujuru) was someone who was controversially appointed as vice president by him (Mugabe) in 2004 when quite clearly what was supposed to be an elective congress was not an elective congress.
Then the Constitution was changed to then have somebody representing gender at the last minute which Professor (Jonathan) Moyo went on to challenge how unconstitutional it was, how there was no democracy in Zanu PF.
He wrote widely about that and at that point in time people had more or less indicators that Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa was controlling eight provinces which would have elected him after Cde Simon Muzenda was no longer there.
And what was critical at that point, if there was to be the balance of power, in terms of the tribes of this country, with Cde Muzenda not being there, it was important that a Karanga assumed the position because the Karangas have played a big part and are an integral part of society even in the liberation struggle.
You cannot have one tribe (Zezurus) again constantly in charge as if they are the only ones who went to the liberation struggle and others did not.
We talk about the balance of power, and the balance of power must also be seen at the highest level of the party; in the presidium, it must be there.
There must be four people representing the four regions so that there is not an outcry from anyone, but if there is only one tribe which is dominating then it becomes a problem in the party because the other tribes will gang against this one tribe and assume power.
So in terms of Mai Mujuru, it is the office that I supported over Mai Mujuru and equally, I am also not afraid to say if the president is the president, I also support his office. I don’t support individuals. I support the offices and capacities that they hold because they would have been elected by the people.
So it was totally unfair for anybody to assume that there was a plot to oust the president.
Do you know it is the most evil thing that any man could have come up with because each time I am walking in the street people are probably pointing and saying in their hearts you see that young man wanted to kill the president? But I am scot-free.
It is something that tainted me and this is where I then come in and say Mai Mujuru, national chairman SK Moyo and secretary for administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa, as leaders were supposed to advise the president that the information he was receiving was wrong and they were supposed to stand by that and standing by that they were supposed to defend the democratic processes in the party and the struggle that they fought for.
And at no point were they supposed to allow lies to prevail over principle, over the truth and this is where I have a problem with them in terms of principle; why then did you not stand up at the time and save the country, save the party and save the struggle that they fought for. They decided to be quiet.
When this whole thing is dismantled by a grouping of young people through lies, how does it hold? The whole struggle loses its meaning.
The humiliation that Mai Mujuru went through, she does not deserve that as a comrade. And I think the First Lady, with due respect, was respected because she is the wife of the president and she supports the president and it must remain there.
But the moment that she decides to get into the political arena, you’ve got to understand that it’s a game; she’s decided to wear a jersey and anybody who is wearing a jersey against the team I am playing for, ndinomaka (I mark), ndikasa maka anogowesa tochidyiwa saka pakumaka ipapo ndinogona kutyora gumbo remunhu but igame nekuti wapinda mugemu (If I don’t mark that person will score and we lose; but in marking I could break that person’s leg, it’s a game because you have joined the game).
We cannot have a situation where we have an unmarked player and the other team loses. So the system and comrades allowed somebody (Grace Mugabe) to go unmarked in a game that she decided to play and they were the main players.
She was supposed to be surrounded by defenders who would stop her from scoring and the defenders were supposed to be Mai Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa.
Q: You attended MDC’s 16th anniversary and spoke strongly against Mujuru taking a leading role in a possible coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai’s; why?
A: I have a right as a Zimbabwean to associate with things which I believe are good for Zimbabweans.
I believe in electoral reforms and MDC are for that. I don’t believe in violence and MDC are against that.
I was very disappointed that when Mai Mujuru was expelled, she did not stand (contest) as a Member of Parliament where she was chosen by the people, I was disappointed that (Kudakwashe) Bashikiti did not stand, I was disappointed that (David) Butau did not stand and other members who were expelled because you serve the people.
It was important to go there and say listen, yes I have been kicked out of Zanu PF but that does not stop me from serving you, like I did in Hurungwe West.
The people of Hurungwe West were beaten up and yes there was talk I was People First. And to me People First was premised on the people who had been suspended from the party, expelled wrongfully and would then be re-instated within.
Then we also waited for people to be given their fate in terms of the suspensions (two and five years) which came, and when people knew their fate they were more than ready to then say we remain in Zanu PF because we don’t want to be victimised but we support you (Mai Mujuru).
But support in politics needs you to be open and people must see the momentum. The opposition and the ruling party must see that you are making progress because you cannot gauge (parry’s strength and popularity) on analysis of articles, press statements and blueprint in the media.
That blueprint (Build) must come from the people. Whether you like it or not, I don’t believe People First has started right because that whole blueprint (Build) was supposed to come from the people, they were supposed to have a congress which endorses it.
So who endorsed it? I don’t want to be a part of party which will be run by one person. I am just coming from another one, Zanu PF. So it seems they are still inheriting the Zanu PF habits of one centre of power and no democracy.
The centre of power is a result of democracy. So no one sat down to call for a congress to agree on it. It’s as blueprint made by a few people and it’s not been endorsed. But how does the person in Hurungwe West know about it if there is no structure because it must get to the people through structures which are there?
I talked about a coalition in terms of my support for Tsvangirai. See it as an analysis in that your popularity in Zanu PF means nothing if you have not gone for elections if you are outside Zanu PF. That’s a fact and I looked at the statistics of which are there from the (2008) presidential elections — President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni — those are the presidential candidates for a very long time who have had anything significant.
And Tsvangirai, whether you like it or not, he’s got these people that will always support him. And if you are talking about a grand coalition and exactly what I said is happening right now. I don’t want politicians to waste our time; they can no longer be playing with people’s minds because politicians want power.
You cannot go into something without having anything. It does not make sense; no one will allow that. No matter how stupid you think Tsvangirai is, there is no way that his party will allow people to come in just because you have names. Those names were in Zanu PF.
What have you created about Zanu PF?
That’s the reason why I can safely say that outside Morgan Tsvangirai, I probably have more votes than any other person with the 4 200 votes I got in Hurungwe West and those are more votes than all the independent candidates who stood.
I can talk about it because I have them and that is key in any election. So to me, what are you bringing to the table? I am not People First and you have by elections, why have you not contested?
We are not looking at 2018, because the problems are with us now and we must deal with them right now. We talk about the 100 (Zanu PF) MPs that support Mai Mujuru let them combine with those that belong to MDC.
They will call for the dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections are held. Why does that not happen? Listen, I am being honest that’s why I am saying we don’t want to waste people’s time. People are suffering. We need this remedy right now.
Q: Are you suggesting Mujuru could be afraid of tackling Mugabe?
A: Listen, the president the other day, at the luncheon (for MPs) said that with this fist she (Mujuru) cannot fight me. She did not respond, she went quiet. You want to be the opposition and you are told that this fist will destroy you and you keep quiet. But you must respond and say I have double fists. That’s what politics is about but she has gone quiet again. We are not stupid, we have also learnt.
Those people (Mujuru, Mutasa and Gumbo) had been appointed by the president; they have been servants of the president. Are they now prepared to wait for the president to go? What if he doesn’t go, will you contest him in 2018? This is the issue. Daily News