Gilbert Muponda of the ENG saga has resurfaced, this time eyeing the Warren Park House of Assembly seat on a Zanu PF ticket. He has been attacked on social media with some saying he is not fit to hold public office and cannot be trusted after allegedly leaving many people bankrupt. NewsDay’s Blessed Mhlanga caught up with him and demanded answers to the questions that matter.
By Blessed Mhlanga
ND: The Zanu PF primary elections marred with vote rigging allegations have come and gone with you securing the party ticket for Warren Park, did you benefit from the rigging?
GM: No no no, there was no rigging here, I was born and bred in Warren Park, so it was easy for the residents to identify with me and my proposed action plan to serve the community. Through the Gilbert Muponda Foundation, I operate two schools in the constituency which have been offering free holiday lessons for children from Grades 1 to Form 6. In addition, I have repaired and refurbished boreholes, offered free provisional drivers’ licence lessons, financed women’s clubs which fund various projects for women and youths in the constituency
ND: What motivated you to enter into politics?
GM: I have always been in the party structures. I have been the secretary of indigenisation in Harare Central 1 district for the past seven years. A significant number of residents persuaded me to stand for the position of MP in Warren Park after being impressed by my track record as the secretary for Indigenisation where I initiated various empowerment projects in the constituency.
ND: Zanu PF has been accused of orchestrating gross human rights abuses and running down the economy, why choose to be associated with such a party in an area generally regarded as an MDC-T stronghold?
GM: Zanu PF policies of economic empowerment and indigenisation make it the party for progressive and enterprising Zimbabweans, as it clearly seeks to produce cadres who can become serious entrepreneurs, business people and create new wealth. Whilst foreign direct investment is important, I believe foreigners cannot develop Zimbabwe for us. We need local, home-grown entrepreneurs who can build local brands and build business empires that can spread beyond Zimbabwe’s borders. That’s why Zanu PF.
ND: You speak glowingly about Zanu PF, yet critics have had a go on the election manifesto launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, they say it’s a hatchet job?
GM: The manifesto is progressive and captures all the critical areas which need urgent attention. The focus on increased investment in education, industrial production, infrastructure and international re-engagement is the correct policy which will result in economic turnaround. Zimbabwe has been isolated for too long and has been overtaken by regional neighbours so the re-engagement policy is impressive and welcome as it will re-position Zimbabwe as an attractive investment destination.
ND: The party has been in power for 37 years and has unfinished business in terms of the unfulfilled 2013 manifesto, why should the electorate trust your party?
GM: The party achieved some of its goals and others remain work in progress. The investment environment has greatly improved and the Operation Restore Legacy has brought hope to the people. As you are aware investment commitments of close to $12 billion have been secured since November 2017. Investment delegations are coming in droves whilst the command agriculture programme has ensured food self-sufficiency and reduced the import bill so Zimbabweans can see tangible results and the party will achieve even more, given the international goodwill generated by Operation Restore Legacy and the progressive policies being implemented by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government
ND: A lot has been said about Gilbert Muponda especially your involvement with ENG Capital, some believe you are not fit to hold public office following that saga?
GM: As they say politics is a dirty game. Those attempting to recycle the ENG issue have run out of ideas. ENG Capital paid out all its creditors and liabilities. This was confirmed by the High Court of Zimbabwe which stated that … “ENG Capital and its Directors have paid past, present and future liabilities”. In addition, I was cleared by Interpol, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Co-Home Affairs ministers Theresa Makone and Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Anti-Corruption Commission, Attorney-General’s Office, Zimbabwe Republic Police and Criminal Investigations Department. Please check with these institutions and verify. All the documents are publicly available. ENG Capital was a solid company which was destroyed out of jealous, malice and ignorance of those who felt threatened by its astronomical rise over a very short time. The company paid out all liabilities and even had excess assets such as cars, shares and properties which were returned to me.
ND: A lot of young business people are standing for Zanu PF in the elections, what do you attribute that to?
GM: Young business people are excited by the progressive and business-friendly policies which the party is implementing. That is why many young people have come out to stand as candidates for the party. Obviously the party is going through a self-renewal process anchored by the Operation Restore Legacy and in the process fresh minds and ideas have been welcomed into the party as it seeks to get a fresh mandate from the people.