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ND: It has been two years since you left Zimbabwe, are you at liberty to tell us what life has been for you during the is period?
JNM: Liberty is the essence of human existence and I cherish my liberty. But even so, I don’t know about telling you what life has been in the two years you are referring to. That’s material for a book. However, having taken your call, I’m obliged to answer your questions.
ND: Do you miss home?
JNM: I agree that home is best. But I also know that there is more to home than geography. In any event, right now home is on fire. So, rather than missing home, I am praying for it.
ND: But even when you are away, you seem to have a nose on what is happening in Zimbabwe, looking at your tweets about developments in government and Zanu PF. Does that mean you are still working with some people in government and Zanu PF? Does that not validate claims that you had literally taken over the intelligence unit before the 2017 coup?
JNM: I get my information from primary sources, not from the so-called intelligence sources that have proven to be anything but intelligent. Politics is evidence-driven and theory follows practice. So, as a political scientist, I can only tweet about what’s happening in my area of interest and inquiry. I have considerable experience in government and Zanu PF. But I also know people not only in government and Zanu PF, but also from across the political divide and in the media, academia, churches, businesses and society at large. Geographical displacement cannot be a barrier to continued communication with my contacts in these s think sectors. Only fools that information on what’s happening in Zimbabwe, especially in government and Zanu PF comes from intelligence sources. Many of the so-called intelligence sources are unintelligent and ignorant people. Do you think there is any serious person out there who thinks Owen Mudha Ncube is intelligent and well informed? No I don’t think so.
ND: What is your assessment of Mnangagwa’s leadership so far?
JNM: There’s no leadership to assess. Mnangagwa has never been a leader and he will never he a leader. This is because leadership is about morality. You cannot be a leader when like Mnangagwa, you have no moral compass, you never speak to the nation on moral issues because you know you are a disaster on that score; and when you have no regard for human life; and you take pride in shortening the lives of your opponents. A leader with a moral compass empathises with the people and their everyday struggles; understands their suffering and is committed to fulfilling their aspirations through people-centred policies, which are not declared at Press conferences, boardrooms or in meetings, but are implemented on the ground. So, my assessment of Mnangagwa is that he has proven that he has not risen above his historical role as the Gukurahundi chief instigator and enforcer. As a leader, he is clueless. If leadership were to smack him on his face, he would not recognise it. You cannot say you are a leader, apa hauna vanhu!
ND: Surely, the two years you have been out of government and Zanu PF have given you room for introspection. What things do you have regrets about that you would wish to correct if you have another chance in a government or Zanu PF?
JNM: The way you are asking me that question is as if I was the president of Zimbabwe and Zanu PF during the time in question. But anyhow in public policy, one looks back and sees things that could or should have been done differently or done better.
From 2013, I regret that I was reshuffled from the Information ministry in 2015 before I could implement the IMPI report and before I could complete the digitisation programme in broadcasting. In higher and tertiary education, science and technology development I regret that the November 2017 military coup derailed the STEM initiative, which was meant to run from 2016 to 2026; the transformation of tertiary institutions and teachers colleges into degree offering institutions; the transformation of universities from conventional teaching pro-grammes into research-based teaching – designed to train high-end skills to produce technological solution to community and societal problems; and the overhaul and modernisation of the Manpower Planning and Development Act to enable the industrialisation and modernisation of Zimbabwe.
I regret all this, but I know tomorrow is coming and these and related things will be done and done well. My biggest regret though is that I failed to convince President Mugabe to act to pre-empt the 2017 military coup which had been actively loading since December 2014, but whose roots were sunk in the 2008 presidential run-off election. I believe I did everything one could do, including writing three confidential memos to President Mugabe, briefing him on several occasions and making a video presentation to the Zanu PF politburo. But President Mugabe was loyal to Mnangagwa and Chiwenga whom he gave the benefit of the doubt; never accepting or believing that either could seek to over-throw him in any way, let alone through a military coup. I really regret that I found myself with no means or way of convincing Mugabe to act. In the end, I engaged Rtd General Happyton Bonyongwe, in his capacity as the Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) around August 2017, but that too came to naught although I gave him compelling evidence, which has not been mentioned in the public domain.
When I look back, I regret that I came back to government, and I mean Cabinet, in 2013. If there’s anything I wish I could correct, that’s it.
The government and Cabinet I found in 2013 was very different from the one I served between 2000 and 2005.
In 2013, there was no longer a government. Things had fallen apart. Government business had become succession business. First, it was about Joice Mujuru, she just did not want to see me back in government. Saviour Kasukuwere took me to her office ahead of the 2013 came to nought although I gave him elections and she did not want to hear about me. She was actually, palpably pissed off to see me in her office.
When I was appointed minister of Information in 2013, she could not believe it. She resisted our ministry’s efforts to reform ZBC and did not want to hear about salrygate. She attacked me in Chinhoyi, calling salarygate a CIA conspiracy to destroy Zanu PF from within. But the worst is when she got President Mugabe to call me ‘the devil incarnate’ at Nathan Shamuyarira’s funeral in June 2014. That was hell on earth.
But my ordeal under Joice Mujuru pales into insignificance when compared to what I went through after Mnangagwa became vice-president. It was a dog eat dog affair. Like Joice Mujuru, Mnangagwa wanted me out of the Information ministry and later out of Cabinet. He used Goodson Nguni and Virginia Mabhiza to falsify corruption charges against me over ZimDef; yes, the same Mnangagwa who is behind the arrest and release fiasco of his clan boy, Jorum Gumbo, at Zacc.
Anyhow, I really regret that I went back into government in 2013. I wish I had stayed out to enjoy the life I had between 2005 and 2013 outside government. It was the best time for me and my family.- newsday
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