Our Bulawayo reporter Jeffrey Muvundusi yesterday had a chat with him. Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: Just a few days ago, Zimbabwe joined other African countries in marking Africa Day, can you briefly reflect on the day?
A: I would say Kwame Nkrumah was the original architect of the idea of uniting Africa. It was soon taken over by Julius Nyerere who agreed with him, because these people were revolutionist as compared to nationalists.
Nkrumah declared that without unity there is no future for Africa. These people had a very big vision for Africa. Unfortunately Africa was divided by imperialists for their selfish ends.
We now look at Africa Day as more than just a holiday, but as a day we should remember that Africa as it is, without being united, there is no future as Nkrumah said.
Q: Are you saying Africa as a continent is divided?
A: Not at all, even in Sadc as we are talking, we have a lot of countries that are coming together, but with different boundaries and leaders. We can't even learn from EU, which has become more like one country.
When you go to Mozambique, you need to make your travel arrangements like you are going to America. We still practice xenophobia which is equally horrible, it means people don't realise that they are one, they are so divided they don't look at each other as Africans.
Let me talk of Sadc, East Africa and North Africa, they are the same, but we chose to divide ourselves instead of building a united Africa. As it is we are being retrogressive, no one wants to hear that because of power. People think of power than their countries.
Q: Is it one of the reasons why Africa is still underdeveloped decades later?
A: Like I said, the likes of Nkrumah and Nyerere, who I can call the founding fathers of Africa, were thinking of Africa as a whole, but most of the people who came thereafter were either thinking of power and self-enrichment or very little about development.
We are afraid of investment in Africa, if someone comes and says I want to invest in gold or diamond, we put so many restrictions, but instead of putting out hard and fast rules of our operations we change our rules every day, one rule after another. So investors are not comfortable to come to Africa.
This is exactly what is happening in our country (Zimbabwe), we need to embrace investors where we regard investors as people who are coming to steal our wealth that's why there is so much lack of development. We should instead copy from other countries where there is development, for example Botswana, not so long ago, it was just a bush in our neighbourhood, but today we can't compare the towns of Botswana with our old cities here which haven't been developed for 40 years. So the difference is policies which affect most African countries.
Q: Where do you see Africa in the next two decades?
A: Unless there is a change in our policies; it will be the same as it was 50 years. We have to copy from other countries, let's not re-invent the wheel.
For example, look at Asian nations they are now exporting to the West, but not so long ago they were manufacturing very little. In fact there was nothing coming from the East to the West, it was always the other way round.
Q: Zimbabwe has for years now adopted a Look East Policy, in your view is it a noble idea?
A: I don't think this policy is in line with modern policies. We are now living in a global world. You really don't have to look east or west, but look at the whole world, especially where opportunities arise.
For example, if you look East it means you are only focused on the East, you don't focus on other parts of the world.
For example, we have our neighbours South Africa here, their economy is far much better than ours, we can also concentrate on what we can get from there.
Q: Just like his predecessor Robert Mugabe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has complained about sanctions hurting Zimbabwe, what's your take?
A: Sanctions are hurting Zimbabwe, but at the same time we hurt ourselves. It is very easy to fight against sanctions. It's not by conducting street marches or organising big rallies against sanctions, it's by looking at our policies. Some countries are against some policies that we make.
For instance, if some of the problems we have faced in the last few years are anything to go by, we are signatories to certain treaties and conventions, we have to stick to those agreements, if we don't then it will be marked against us.
I think the more we behave in an appropriate manner which is acceptable internationally, the better chances for us to have sanctions removed.
Don't forget that Rhodesia was on sanctions before we took over the country for 15 years. The sanctions were only removed as soon as Lancaster House agreement was signed. So we must make sure that there are no people who are working against the good of this country.
Just now, we are hearing of abductions. All these abductions and torture, whoever is responsible, is making things hard for Zimbabwe, he is not a patriot because whatever the reason he is doing it, he is not doing it for the good of Zimbabwe.
People the world over are following, only to hear that Zimbabwe is a pariah state, people are being abducted, tortured and demonstrations banned, among other things.
I know the president has tried so hard since he took over, but I don't think people are helping him, some are working against his efforts.
Q: What then do you say about people who are surrounding the president?
A: It's very difficult to say. There is an old phrase which goes like show me your friends and I will show you your character. If these people are really genuine friends or advisers they should tell the president the truth and differentiate things that are right from wrong.
As I always say, before you advice somebody you must always make sure that your interests are taken care of. You can't advise someone against your own interests. The president has people he works with who include the Cabinet, Parliament, advisors, politburo and central committee, if all those people don't see anything wrong, the president will always think that everything is okay, because he can't do it alone.
Q: Are you happy with the country's human rights record?
A: Human rights are a basic way of governing, if you break human rights then the whole world gets to know, they put a question mark. It's even worse these days with the sophisticated means of communication where news reach the whole world as fast as possible. So human rights abuse are a no, no. We should not do that. I say no to abductions and no to torture.
Q: President Mnangagwa declared zero tolerance on corruption upon assuming office; do you think there has been progress in that regard?
A: The issue of corruption is a very difficult issue to discuss. When you arrest someone before you do thorough investigations, it means there are loop holes then someone can always get away with it.
The law enforcing agents must thoroughly investigate these cases before rushing them to courts. I personally don't think enough has been done in as far as fighting corruption is concerned because people are now crying about cartels.
Cartels is all corruption. If there really are cartels it means we have to look at business practice, if some people are favoured by government to make easy money, it means many will suffer as money will concentrate on a few people.
Q: On the economic front, Zimbabwe continues to sink deeper despite Finance minister Mthuli Ncube assuring the nation that it's all going to be well?
A: That's a million dollar question, but well, I have asked Cde Mthuli that don't you believe that 80 percent of our economic problems are that we have no currency of our own and he said, yes there is no country which runs without its own currency all these printing of new currency doesn't change the fact that we don't have our own currency.
And true to that anywhere you go, even a fruit vendor will charge you in US dollars and if you say I will buy in bond notes the price will multiply by seven times, yet you go to the bank and the black market the rates have a big difference.
Q: So where are we going as a nation at this rate?
A: At this rate, it will take a long time for us to get it right. I have always said economics and politics are two legs of men, if the other leg is dysfunctional, the other leg won't be able to walk straight. You cannot have a good economy where there is no good politics.
I am one of those who have been calling for the Government of National Unity, not because there is a vacancy for them but I feel it will make us focus on running the economy only, instead of spending so much time fighting and squabbling over politics.
All these things we are hearing about abductions and torture are caused by divisions and they affect the reputation of our country.
So if they (politicians) can come together all this will be over and we don't lose anything as a nation. But there are some people in government who feel that maybe if this GNU comes into effect, they will lose their positions.
We are not looking at that, we are looking at the development of the country. Look at how neighbouring countries are fast developing ahead of us.
Everyone is thinking about power, where have you seen a country with 23 people aspiring to be a president? It's not surprising that in the next elections, the number may double up.
Q: Your parting shot?
A: We have a great country if only we can put our differences aside, we will never have all the problems we are facing today. Why don't we get back to the status when we took independence, when the likes of Nyerere declared Zimbabwe as a Jewel of Africa.
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