President Tsvangirai on Question Time
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 11:58
AM. What is the MDC’s position on indigenisation? What will the MDC do about the economy when it comes into power?
MT. Policy consistency and credibility is important. One of the most challenging things is to be clear about what the party stands for. We have promoted the fact that we cannot share a small cake. We want a policy that will increase the cake so that we can share because the scramble for the small cake is not solving the problem.
Historically, there has been marginalisation of the black majority and this is known. There has to be an upliftment policy that will be broad-based. We must avoid a policy that seeks to enrich a few elites whether black or white at the expense of the broad masses. That policy as far as the MDC is concerned must look at encouraging job creation as the most important thing because it is through jobs that you empower people.
Secondly, wealth creation which is the upliftment of the people especially where it involves the majority of the people, your rural development strategy is very key in wealth creation and poverty alleviation and therefore, the policy of empowerment must ensure that the majority of the people are brought into the economic net through job creation, wealth creation and upliftment. That is the policy of the MDC, it’s not ignoring the fact that the majority of the people are poor, but definitely it cannot be a policy that advances the philosophy that you take from Peter to pay Paul.
AM. What will the MDC do about the land that is already in the hands of the black people, is land reform reversible?
MT. Let us be very clear, it is now nigh impossible to reverse the land programme, so it is a fait accompli. Everyone accepts that land reform was done albeit in a haphazard way, what is important is how we can rationalise the ownership structure but also how a land market can be created, how do we ensure that we have security of tenure and those are challenges that can only be tackled in a systematic forward -looking manner so that land becomes productive again.
It involves having a Land Act which will set up a land commission which will then rationalise the ownership and distribution without necessarily marginalising anyone on political grounds. It must be equitable, must enhance productivity and must be an economic tool and not a political tool. Fundamentally, you cannot grow an economy on everyone being a peasant because we are all not farmers. Let those who can make a life from farming know that it is an economic exercise not social and emotive distribution.
AM. What will the MDC do to solve Zimbabwe’s current energy crisis?
MT. Thank goodness we have very specific plans and resolutions for the energy sector. One must understand the background and that we’ve actually fallen behind. For the last ten years we actually fell behind the generation capacity. We need new generation capacity either through hydro or thermal facilities.
We have an intention to build two thermal power stations, one in Senga, and one in Hwange 7 and 8. We have hydro power plans that are in place, Batoka, and other small thermals. We are looking at dams whether we can put a hydro component on our current dams. And we are encouraging private operators; we have another methane gas project in Lupane and the Bindura gas plant. There are a number of thermal electricity power stations to increase our capacity from the current 1500 to almost 6000 megawatts.
AM . You spoke about ethanol being the future fuel, with the current Greenfuel’s project where Billy Rautenbach has a 51 percent stake or a differently structured deal?
MT. You know that the Chisumbanje ethanol project has been very controversial because there has been some secrecy around how Billy Rautenbach came to own such huge tracts of land without cabinet approval. I think ARDA was the agency then of government which negotiated this project. It is an agent of government and government must be involved, so maybe the ownership structure is not fair to Zimbabwe. However, it is a project that has set a stage to really make ethanol the future energy to satisfy the future energy needs of the country. One needs to deal with the community that was affected. We have to deal with the question of pricing, the question of what amounts should be internally generated and consumed. Definitely, you cannot move away from ethanol. In the green world this has to be taken as a serious issue.
AM. Is the MDC a creation of the West?
MT. The MDC cannot be a creation of the West; this is a people’s project. The MDC came out as a result of crisis of governance by Zanu PF and people had to create an alternative political movement in order to address the critical national problems we were facing. It cannot be a creation of anyone otherwise, how are you able to sustain the political legitimacy of a movement if it is externally created? The support of the people is the lifeblood of the MDC. Therefore, it cannot be a creation of anyone apart from the cheap propaganda that someone is promoting.
AM. Is it driven by white Zimbabweans?
MT. When I say it is a people’s project, I’m talking about a majority of the people in this country who are black, who have been abused, who have no jobs, who have no socially responsible government so, we created this alternative formation for the people because of that. Yes, we don’t discriminate anyone on the basis of race colour, sex or creed, so some whites may be members of the MDC as some whites are members of Zanu PF. Race does not come into it but what are the values of the party? This is what is critical.
AM. What is the position of the MDC on sexual minorities?
MT. Well, our party does not discriminate against anyone for their sexual orientation. We don’t believe its the business of government or parties to define the sexual behaviour of individuals, I think its wrong. Just like the individuals who are gay cannot impose their will on the rest of society.
AM. Has the MDC joined the gravy train?
MT. No the MDC has not joined the gravy train, we have to understand that when we negotiated this Global Political Agreement, it was a power sharing arrangement, it was not about power transfer, so a power sharing arrangement means that we are responsible for what the coalition is doing , we are members of government, we have a definitive programme to achieve, which is stabilisation and reform and that’s what we are involved in and if that is the gravy train, then what is progress after all.
We have stabilised the economy, we are engaged in reforms - socio-economic political reform, in order to resolve the crisis the country was facing.
To what extent are we joining the gravy train? We are just as poor as we were. The fact that one is driving an allocation from government does not mean one has joined the gravy train. Do you want us to ride on bicycles? People must have different yardsticks and unfortunately there is this misguided conception that if one is driving a Mercedes Benz therefore, he is joining the gravy train but these are the rules in government that a minister will have a ministerial car, the PM will have a car. Certainly people must look at what the MDC has done to uplift their lives rather than trying to equalise us with Zanu PF.
AM. In your opinion would you say the local authorities are inefficient and corrupt? Have you done anything as a party?
MT. The majority of local authorities in fact over 30 of them are controlled by the MDC; they are the coalface between the people and MDC. We appreciate that there are some members of local authorities who are corrupt, who are our representatives but we have dealt with them. We have very recently commissioned another inquiry to do an audit of our local authorities and their delivery agendas and I think we will deal with any miscreants amongst the local authorities either councillors or mayors.
But I must say that upon reflection our local authorities have done a lot. We came into this coalition government when there was no water in Harare, they have resolved the water crisis, they have resolved the health problems associated with poor sanitation in the city, the infrastructure which had totally collapsed and it is these local authorities who have rehabilitated these facilities.
They have also been involved in making sure that schools, hospitals, clinics and all the social amenities are rehabilitated. Whilst there may be incidents of corruption here and there and which the party cannot sweep under the carpet, I think the idea is let’s measure on what the local authorities, towns and cities have done since 2008.
AM. President, when do you want to go for an election?
MT. We should have an election when an environment has been created. I don’t have a specific date but any time between March and June next year, we should be ready to go for an election because we should achieve a people’s stakeholders conference, a Constitution, referendum, a new voters’ roll, a new delimitation exercise. So if those things can be done effectively on the ground to allow us to have that environment by between March and June that’s ok. The party is ready.
AM. The Constitution that is in the making, is it a transitional document or the real thing?
MT. The Constitution is never an exercise which is an event, it is a process. You can draft that constitution adopt the constitution, it is the supreme law of the land until there is motivation to change the circumstances then you amend the constitution. There is no such thing as a transitional constitution or a permanent constitution. This is the jurisdiction under which Zimbabwe will be administered and until such a time as it can be amended, so I don’t believe that there will be a transitional constitution. I think this is the constitution, if the next government feels at some stage that it is necessary to revisit, then it can be amended accordingly.
AM. What is the position of the party on mining, diamonds, gold etc
MT. All mineral endowments are national and therefore must benefit all Zimbabweans in all spheres of life, so there has to be policies that will go towards extraction and marketing of those minerals. At the moment there is talk of securitisation which I believe is the way to go, securitisation of our minerals which means geologically we have to establish the value of our minerals and how we can securitise for our social development for the benefit of everyone but there has to be participation because they need capital to extract those minerals from the ground but we believe that this is an endowment for the country and the nation must benefit from our minerals.
AM. Are we a Party of Excellence?
MT. We are a Party of Excellence because we believe that despite what this party has gone through this party has outlived its worst enemies, its detractors. There was a time when we were given months to exist, a year even two, but we have outlived all the skeptics and we have proven beyond any doubt to the people of Zimbabwe that we represent their best interests.
AM. Do women feel that they are ably represented by this party?
MT. Definitely it’s not a perfect arrangement, we believe we can do more. Remember, the question of affirmative action is not an event; we would like to see more women involved in party affairs. We continue to encourage a 50/50 approach that is why we adopted the policy.
It is one thing to adopt a policy and quite another to achieve the target. The policy is there, we want to achieve a 50/50 policy in all spheres of the party and governmental structures.
AM. We understand that there are still post congress tensions within the party is this true and what is being done?
MT. Firstly I promised people that we were going to investigate this so called violence that characterised our elections leading up to the congress. We have put in place a commission which has since reported to us and the necessary disciplinary measures will be taken against those found to be involved in those activities. The national chairman and the secretary general are compiling charges for those implicated to come and clear themselves.
AM. Is this linked to the factionalism said to be rocking the party?
MT. There is no factionalism in MDC as it’s known and pronounced in Zanu PF. I think in any competition there are likely to be groups that will associate themselves with individuals and that perpetuates the impression that perhaps there is factionalism. Factionalism is a very negative way of organising a political movement because we have a Constitution, we have structures and if we have training programmes for people to understand what the party stands for, so what is the basis for factionalism. The factionalism is informed by the fact that people then try to associate themselves with individuals and not the values, principles and the constitution of the party. I don’t see that as something that has affected the MDC.
AM. What can you say about the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and how perpetrators of 2008 violence seem to have been let off the hook.
MT. No, no, no, that is not true. The ZHR Commission Bill which is currently before Parliament is talking about the future, about what is going to happen in the next elections and beyond. That is what it is dealing with. We are going to set up another Commission either through the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation or a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is already part of the Constitutional proposals, so we have not ignored atrocities of the past.
AM. What is the MDCs position on issues of sanctions? Was the party involved in their crafting?
MT. The 2008 run-off elections were violent, many people were killed, the army was set against the people and it is not acceptable, where the military is set to violate the people whom they are supposed to protect and it is in those circumstances that the international community imposed restrictive measures against certain members of Zanu PF and senior officials. We have had three and half years of the coalition government and we believe that what must now be done must be done to encourage reform rather than to push people to a closed mentality or siege mentality. No one went out and encouraged for sanctions to be imposed on those individuals.