FORMER Gutu South MP, Paul Chimedza (pictured), who briefly worked as Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister for less than a month after his tenure was cut short by Operation Restore Legacy which said he was in the “wrong basket”, has retreated to his medical business and is largely absent from the public limelight ever since.
TellZim news editor, Moses Ziyambi (MZ)`, caught up with Chimedza (PC) and had a detailed interview with the man whose dramatic rise to the top briefly made him an enormously powerful political figure in Masvingo province.
MZ: It is said some people in Gutu South still want you to be their MP post 2018. Are you considering standing as an independent?
PC: I am most humbled by the love and huge support I continue to get from the people of Gutu South. It is amazing. I have had several delegations from Gutu South constituency asking me to stand as an independent candidate or NPF candidate or NPP candidate, but I have respectively declined. I don’t believe there is much value in being a lone ranger in Parliament.
I could be an MP yes, but I would not be able to serve the people well as an independent MP. So I am taking a sabbatical from politics and for the next five years. I will be watching from the terraces. I’m not abandoning the people of Gutu South, who stood by me so resolutely under very difficult conditions.
I will continue to serve them, but not in the office of Member of Parliament. For now, I will take this opportunity to spend more time with my family and also serving my patients. I am enjoying my peace and tranquillity.
MZ: How do you rate President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s performance so far?
PC: I know the President personally and I know him to be a sincere and hardworking man. One thing you can’t take away from him is that he understands business and he is receptive to ideas from this sector. We have all seen the energy he is putting to bring foreign direct investment into the country and the work he is doing to turn around the economy. Yes, some people want results and want results now, but results only follow as a result of effort and the President has put over 150% of that to get the nation back onto the rails. None of us is perfect, but I strongly believe if we all give our President the support he requires and are patient with him, Zimbabwe will get the economic transformation it requires.
MZ: There was widespread speculation that you were mulling joining the opposition MDC-T after you sent a condolence message to the party following the death of its leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February this year, what’s your comment?
PC: (Laughs) The chances of me joining MDC are zero. Though I have respect for them as a political party our DNA is different. My DNA is that of Zanu PF. Everyone went to pay their last respects to Morgan Tsvangirai; from the President, the two Vice-Presidents, and the chairperson of Zanu PF. The chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri even went to Tsvangirai’s homestead in Buhera. Are you now saying Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri is now MDC-T because of that gesture? It is the African thing to do to mourn with the bereaved. I did just that and so did everyone else. I have not joined the MDC-T.
MZ: Some have said all expelled “G40s” now have a political home in former minister Ambrose Mutinhiri’s National Patriotic Front. Do you see a future for yourself there?
PC: Everyone has a democratic right to form a political party and General Mutinhiri and company exercised that right and I respect them for that. However, I am not a member of NPF or any other political outfit. I have a political home, which is Zanu PF. Although I am not at home at the moment, I will be back kana chitarafu chapera.
MZ: Who then among your former colleagues expelled from Zanu PF has joined NPF or intends to do so?
PC: As to who is in NPF and who is not, that I cannot answer, because I have no knowledge of what goes on inside that party. All I know is that am not part of NPF.
MZ: Some sections of Zanu PF; commissariat and war veterans, have said they want certain “G40s” to be forgiven and brought back into the party immediately. Would you take the opportunity?
PC: I’m not sure if I’m part of the “certain G40s” to be forgiven and brought back into the party. It is always a joy when everyone one is working together and pulling in one direction with no suspensions or expulsions or bitter fights.
I presume that the comrades in the commissariat and our war veterans have a vision of such a united party and it’s totally understandable, because this group has always been revolutionary. Other comrades are also still aggrieved because of the bitter factional fights that occurred and it’s also totally understandable. I joined Zanu PF voluntarily and genuinely believing in what the party stood for. So my heart is with Zanu PF. If the party wants me back, then that development will be more than welcome, although I will still take a back seat for now.
MZ: What would your political plans be if, firstly, you will not stand as an independent, secondly, you will not join MDC-T, NPF or any other opposition political party and thirdly, if you fail to get back into Zanu PF.
PC: I have plans, but they are just not political plans. Like I said I am taking a sabbatical from politics. I will take this opportunity to spend more time with my family. I am currently enjoying practicing medicine very much. I am seeing patients I had not seen in a while, because of my previously hectic political schedule and I am loving it. I am also enjoying my peace and tranquillity. For now I am more than content watching the political game from the terraces.
MZ: The projects you had initiated in Gutu are rotting. Are there chances they will be completed?
PC: I started working for the people of Gutu South constituency way before I became MP and I am not about to stop now. There are several initiatives that I had undertaken as MP; from constructing classroom blocks, administration blocks and clinics, to the electrification of many schools. All these will have to be completed. I will be willing to assist whoever is elected MP to complete the projects. Fortunately, one doesn’t need a licence or permission to do development work in your home area although it’s easier to coordinate if you are the MP.
MZ: It is said the people who engineered your expulsion from Zanu PF are Lovemore Matuke and Ezra Chadzamira. What is your relationship with these two?
PC: (Laughs) No, I don’t believe that is a true representation of facts. To take decisions made at a properly constituted central committee meeting and then attribute them to these two comrades will be grossly unfair.
That decision was a party decision and not an individual one. Yes, there might have been political contestation here and there, but there is certainly no bad blood at all between me and the chairman or the chief whip.
You have got to understand that this is politics and there are no permanent friends or enemies, but permanent interests. I have met Cde Matuke several times and we talk and laugh about everything that happened. They are both mature politicians who will never take these things personally.
MZ: It was often said you were enemies with the late Shuvai Mahofa whom you succeeded both in Gutu South and at Benjamin Burombo House. How far true is that and how do you relate with her brother, Josaya Hungwe, who is now Minister of State?
PC: (Laughs) My feud with the late Hon Senator Shuvai Mahofa, may her soul rest in peace, was in the public domain. I wouldn’t, however, say that we were enemies. There are times when we worked together very well on different party programmes. What you all got to see were just the fights. I learnt a lot politically from the senator, she knew when to fight and when to co-operate or unite for a common purpose. She was fearless. I quickly matured in politics because I had a vicious sparring partner in her. Despite the seeming incessant arguments, I had a lot of respect for the late senator. She knew how to correctly read where the political wind would be blowing, her political survival instincts were very sharp … something which I obviously should have learnt from her.
As for Hon Senator Hungwe, I have no issues with him at all personally. I have total respect for him. He has a lot of wisdom acquired over years of political experience. He is a man who genuinely wants to unite the province. I feel greatly privileged to have sat in the same office (that of Minister of State for Provincial affairs) albeit for a short time with the province’s political heavyweights at a very young age. So there is no bad blood at all between us. If it was up to Cde Hungwe alone, I believe I probably would still be in Zanu PF today.