ZIMBABWE’S top job, the Presidency, is set to be contested on July 31 and stakes can never be higher. Five candidates are vying for it and each of them is oozing with confidence that he would win. Incumbent President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T, Welshman Ncube from MDC, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa and Zimbabwe Development Party president Kisnot Mukwazhi have thrown their hats into the ring.
However, while other candidates are not new on Zimbabwe’s political landscape, Mukwazhi is virtually unknown to many and is considered a rank outsider. NewsDay (ND) Political Editor John Nyashanu caught up with the ambitious politician, who outlined a manifesto pregnant with appetising ingredients, his unsuccessful battle to field a single candidate to oppose Mugabe and his alleged links with Zanu PF.
ND: Mukwazhi, some Zimbabweans are arguing that you are an unknown entity politically, economically and socially. All of a sudden you want to take on the bigwigs of Zimbabwean politics. Who exactly are you and what gives you the guts to contest against heavyweights of the game?
KM: Kisnot Mukwazhi is a young guy, 43 years old, coming from Masvingo. I got my inspiration to have a big dream like this from people like Mugabe himself, former South African President (Nelson) Mandela, (the late Chinese President) Mao Tse Tung and (US President Barack) Obama . . . As Kisnot Mukwazhi and ZDP, Yes We Can Do it.
ND: What prompted the formation of ZDP and what was your vision?
KM: ZDP was formed on February 8, 2008 after realising that the people of Zimbabwe want change. Change not to confront those in power, but change to address the most required services for their day-to-day survival.
ND: You referred to Mugabe as one of your heroes, why then are you taking him on instead of complementing what he is doing?
KM: The people under him, his ministers and MPs, are very corrupt. They have totally failed to represent the people in terms of service delivery and we as ZDP want to take the best from anybody to build a castle — a paradise. As a mature somebody who brought us the independence we all enjoy today, Mugabe must retire and enjoy benefits of his hard work.
ND: How popular is your party among Zimbabweans and do you think you stand a chance to win this election?
KM: Yes, we stand a chance to win and I think some people will say this is a miracle victory and Mukwazhi would form a miracle government. We are going to sell our policies through the social media. It’s unfortunate we haven’t received coverage similar to other parties. However, we have been meeting people around the country and if they hear Mukwazhi who has been visiting and empathising with them is standing for the Presidency, they will certainly vote for me.
ND: But are you telling us the truth that you have traversed the length and breadth of Zimbabwe to get people’s sentiments? If so, how many have attended your meetings?
KM: I have been to every corner of this country. We have structures in Nkayi, Gwanda – naming is not right. As a President, I am leader of a party and my constituency is the entire country.
ND: Mukwazhi, your entire manifesto, what is it that you are promising the people of Zimbabwe should you be voted into office?
KM: There are a number of issues. The water issue, they always say chemicals, chemicals. We will address it in the first four months once voted. Zimbabwe has a lot of resources. Shelter — recently land was distributed for free, but in areas like around Harare, stands are very expensive which is tantamount to stealing the right of citizens to accommodation. We also want to ensure growth points are developed to decongest the capital.
ND: You talked about the water crisis, of course there is a crisis in the capital, but it’s more pronounced in Matabeleland where the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) has been in limbo for over 100 years. What’s your solution to this?
KM: It certainly tops the list. It is one of our major priorities. Yes, successive governments have failed to address the crisis, but I can assure you I will harness all experts, even those from other parties, to do so. In Mt Darwin again people are travelling some 28km to fetch water which is indeed a crisis.
ND: Let’s focus on MZWP. How do you intend to harness resources for the project, seeing as it is a top priority to you?
KM: It’s not about money here. We have plenty of resources in Zimbabwe, diamonds, gold etc. These are not for individuals. We must all benefit from them and projects like MZWP must benefit from such proceeds. We will also introduce a performance-monitoring council to monitor such projects and avoid incidents like what we witnessed with the Constituency Development Fund.
ND: On another note, how many parliamentary candidates have you fielded?
KM: I am still to meet with my elections director. I do not know how many exactly, but we have fielded quite a number of them.
ND: By what percentage do you think you will win this poll?
KM: Let July 31 come.
ND: You told us your views on President Mugabe, what of Prime Minister Tsvangirai.
KM: I had and still have respect for Tsvangirai, but he disappointed me. I sold him a project that we had called One Zimbabwe where we intended to have one presidential candidate opposing President Mugabe. I went on to meet Dabengwa and Simba (Makoni), but his technical team took it over. I had the master plan which they went on to spoil. We had crafted an MoU (memorandum of understanding) and I used my own resources to do everything, evidence of which I have, but the whole deal did not succeed. It’s the PM and his technical team who let us down. I didn’t want to put my name for nomination, but was forced to do so by their behaviour.
Maybe they thought I was a CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) agent as speculated on the Internet.
ND: Allegations that you are an agent of Zanu PF being pushed forward to create confusion in the opposition camp – comment.
KM: That is nonsense. The nonsense is from people who are speculative. I suspect they are from MDC. Check my background, I have never been a member of the CIO. I don’t even know who they are. I have never met the President, I was just a member of Zanu PF and I now have my own party.
ND: What was your position in Zanu PF then?
KM: I was a party member who wanted to become MP, but was frustrated.
ND: What was the frustration?
KM: They brought in a lady —Shylet Uyoyo, It was an imposition which disappointed me as I had done a lot of groundwork.
ND: July 31, is it a good date for elections?
KM: It’s not a good or bad date. As long as we are not funded, it’s not a good date. We are actually going for elections under protest.
KM: You touched on an interesting issue about funding — who is funding you?
KM: We are not funded, our members are helping us travel, but we are also using social media to reach out to Zimbabweans.