TRANSFORM Zimbabwe is a new political party on the block. Its leader Jacob Chengedzeni Satiya Ngarivhume and 12 other party members were recently arrested for breaching of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and later released on $50 bail.
NewsDay Chief Reporter Everson Mushava (ND) hooked up with Ngarivhume (JN) to understand more about his political party, its mission and various other issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: You are the president for Transform Zimbabwe; people might want to know who you are. Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
JN: I am a Zimbabwean, born and raised in a Christian family. I am a statistician by training from the University of Zimbabwe and have worked extensively as leading consultant in my own research institutes and various other research consortiums worldwide.
I am founder and chairperson of the Voice for Democracy, a grassroots broad-based civic organisation founded in 2009, whose aim is to fight for justice and democracy. I was also chairperson of Prayer Network Zimbabwe, an interdenominational Christian organisation founded in 2010 to pray for the total transformation of Zimbabwe.
ND: You have mentioned that you grew up in a Christian background, and the party has its roots in the church, what motivated you to enter politics? Is it by any chance a divine calling?
JN: Delegates to the Prayer Network Zimbabwe convention on December 8, 2013 resolved to form a values-based political party to push the agenda to transform Zimbabwe.
It is that resolution which pushed us into politics. I firmly believe that leadership has an obligation to uphold high moral values. With the unprecedented disintegration of the moral fabric of our society that should guide our leaders, I strongly feel that the resolution by Prayer Network Zimbabwe is justified.
So yes I am called into politics by Zimbabweans and by God.
ND: Zimbabwe is a highly polarised political space. It has been dominated by Zanu PF and the MDC. How do expect to gain relevance in such a saturated political space? Don’t you think you are setting up yourself for imminent failure?
When is a good time to set up a new party? It is when all others have failed. Zanu PF have failed the people of Zimbabwe, and the MDC have failed time and again to challenge Zanu PF. The MDC has split and split again. It is a spent force.
The main point is that we have leadership failure in both parties. In any case, the percentage of Zimbabweans who vote in elections show a big number have stayed away because of the ‘bad’ choices available. Zimbabwe is bigger than the MDC and Zanu PF and need to move past them.
ND: What do think would distinguish you from either the Zanu PF or the MDC formations to win the hearts of voters?
JN: We believe that a nation exists in the spiritual and physical components. Any change therefore should start in the spiritual renewal of the nation.
The main difference between us and the other major parties lies in our values, policies, and leadership. Our party is based on integrity and trust where our leaders put the people first. What do the people of Zimbabwe most desire? It is politicians they can trust to do the right thing for the country.
They want to live a life without fear, earn a livelihood to care for their families, and live the kind of lives they choice.
They want their choices to be respected. These we can and will deliver. Our membership has grown from 12 000 at inception to over 100 000 in a space of six months. This bears testimony to how we have gained the support of Zimbabweans.
They have looked at us closely and seen that we walk the talk. We live the value system we talk, Zimbabweans are tired of talk, and they want delivery. Had we not demonstrated our value system to the people we would not be seeing this growth. We are changing the political culture in our politics.
And of course this growth has attracted persecution from the ruling authorities.
ND: You were arrested two weeks ago. What does this tell you about Zimbabwe’s political atmosphere and how do you hope to fare in the torrents?
JN: We find ourselves challenging a party and State that only knows one way in which to govern: by instilling fear through harassment, arrests, and violence.
But it is no longer working. We refuse to be intimidated into surrendering our democratic and human rights as entrenched in our Constitution. We will continue to exercise our fundamental rights peacefully and will insist at all times that the government and its State security agents and the police uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.
Our growing membership base has caught the eye of State security agents. Wherever and whenever we travel, we are shadowed by the sinister presence of State security agents.
In Tsholotsho, Chimanimani, Binga and Hwange members of Transform Zimbabwe were apprehended and questioned by the police and State security agents. In Binga our members have pending court cases for holding executive meetings.
Our executive meeting was disrupted last week by law enforcement agents, members of Transform Zimbabwe and my own family who had come to show solidarity were then arrested and charged, including my wife.
I was subjected to humiliation by the police, over detaining me for a charge that never saw the light at the end of the day, transporting me by public transport from Gweru to Harare in hand cuffs so that the nation could see that I am a ‘criminal’ for the sole reason that we had the audacity to exercise the very political rights that are guaranteed by Section 67 of our Constitution.
We have been to the Midlands, Masvingo, Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South and Bulawayo, We were recently in Manicaland and the support is amazing. We have been able to set up Transform Zimbabwe structures, we have excited a huge social base of people who have not been politically engaged before and this has alarmed the authorities.
But alas! We continue!
The arrests will only stiffen our resolve to transform Zimbabwe.
We will not be deterred until God’s mission is accomplished. This has also showed us that we are the real and genuine threat to the ruling authorities now. We will continue to defy them when they misinterpret Section 25 of Posa to ban our meetings.
We will fight until we free Zimbabwe. We are tired as a nation and as a people.
ND: Zimbabwe is currently facing an economic crisis. What do you think are the causes and how do you expect your party to lift the country from the woods?
JN: The bedrock of our economic policy is to move from a predatory State to a developmental state.
It is to move from an inefficient State-dominated economy, to a competitive economy driven by efficient markets and the private sector.
It is to move from dependence on imports to a competitive export-oriented economy. It is to move from stagnant and jobless economy, to a vibrant and job-creating economy.
Enemy No.1: Corruption
Our first and foremost priority is to put an end to a predatory culture and the obscene abuse of office that has bought ruin to the Zimbabwe economy. We will rid ourselves of the scourge of political patronage and rampant corruption.
And we will put an end to the impunity that goes with it. We will hold to account and prosecute those responsible for abuse of office.
The Investment Imperative:
The first building block is to create an investment climate that attracts investment. Direct foreign investment is vitally important, but so is investment by resourceful Zimbabweans in their own businesses. The fundamental prerequisite for investment is building investor confidence, creating a fair and consistent policy environment and securing property rights.
Creating jobs and generating revenues:
The second building block will be creating jobs and generating revenues. Profit and profitability is not a dirty word. Making a profit is not the exploitation of workers.
It is the opposite.
Profitable companies provide decent jobs, pay workers better, and provide more benefits. Profits that are reinvested in companies create even more jobs. We will, therefore, make it easier for companies to employ workers permanently by enacting more flexible labour laws.
Tax revenues are generated from companies that make profits, and from workers earning higher wages in the formal sector. The only way to increase our tax base is by supporting each and every business to become responsible and profitable business that pay their taxes. We will review the tax system to lower personal and corporate taxes.
This will allow more money to flow into the pockets of workers.
ND: Where do you see yourself as a party in 2018 when the country goes for general elections?
JN:By the time of the general elections, we will be the party of choice with the vast majority. They will realise that we are the only party that cares deeply about their struggles to live decent and productive lives, that has answers to their questions, and which delivers on those answers. The people will realise that we will walk the talk.
Come 2018, we are the party that will bring down Zanu PF to its knees and usher in a new political dispensation!