UNITED Democracy Movement (UDM) leader Violet Mariyacha (VM) is one of the 23 presidential candidates who successfully filed their nomination papers with the hope of upsetting the incumbent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa. NewsDay reporter Blessed Mhlanga (ND) recently had a lengthy interview with the opposition presidential aspirant, discussing various issues including how society perceives female politicians and her experiences of the political environment so far.
By BLESSED MHLANGA
Below are excerpts of the interview;
ND: Can you give us a brief background of you as a person, why you formed this party and what it stands for?
VM: I am a presidential candidate for United Democracy Movement, born and raised in Mutare, Manicaland province, a mother, politician, human rights activist, author, song writer and business woman. UDM stands for equality, justice, respect for human rights, accountability integrity and honesty. UDM stands for families being torn apart due to hardships and poverty, desires of the people and seeking to see transformation coming through democracy
ND: What motivated you to eye the position of president?
VM: Although I have stayed in the western world for decades, I have been moved by the pain and suffering of fellow Zimbabweans across the world, who in most parts are economic refugees who fled the country in their millions due to fear for their lives and economic hardships. The economic hardships is one aspect that influenced me to come back home seeking to rebuild my country.
ND: There are 23 of you eyeing the presidency for a small country like Zimbabwe. Does this show that we have power hungry people?
VM: I believe the Zanu PF candidate is the only one who is power hungry and the rest of us believe we can rebuild Zimbabwe which has been destroyed to rugs by Zanu PF.
ND: This election has been described as a two-horse race between MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa and Mnangagwa, what’s your response to that?
VM: If it was so then there was no need for the other 21 to be in the race. It’s a 23-horse race. On the ground people are hoping for a real change and believe that a mother can heal and rebuild Zimbabwe.
ND: For the first time we have women candidates on the presidential ballot, in your view is Zimbabwe ready for a female president?
VM: From the interactions I am having with people on a daily basis, these are the sentiments which many are always passing that they now need a woman to lead and besides Zimbabwe is so much broken and wounded and a mother-figure like me is the only one who can effectively oil the wounds and comfort the nation. Zimbabwe is hurting and a mother will handle it with care.
ND: Some believe if any of the women candidates were to stand a living chance of winning, you should have all come together in a coalition and backed one candidate. What’s your view?
VM: Well, an opinion is always subjective and so mine is different. Such a coalition will be like putting new wine in old skins. We have two women presidential candidates who have been in government and they both had their chance and I believe it’s now my turn to serve the people of Zimbabwe.
ND: Going to the challenges facing the country, what would be the quick wins that your government will pursue?
VM: Job creation, free education, affordable health services, institutions to operate up to international standards and solving the cash crisis in three weeks.
ND: What is your vision for the country?
VM: I will reduce government spending. We are going to create a culture of honesty in our people which will then reduce corruption massively and eventually this will see a smooth running of the central government and will create a conducive environment for best business practice.
People of Zimbabwe are open and ready to receive a woman, a mother, grandmother and sister. Give little to the woman, she will multiply it. Give her a dirty house, she will clean it, give her the hungry she will feed them, give her Zimbabwe she will fix it, clean and repair it. Zimbabwe shall laugh and dance again with joy.
ND: What’s the calibre and size of Cabinet do you envisage?
VM: It shall indeed be very manageable as it will be fairly small in number with no deputies as the secretaries will function as deputies. It shall be composed of goal-getters, mostly technocrats from across well-known individuals who happen to have a good record.
ND: How are you going to deal with rampant corruption in the country?
VM: We will strengthen the judiciary system. We are going to remunerate our workforce so well, such that they will see no reason to risk their professions over paltry bribes.
We will create an environment which will make corruption look awfully horrible such that no one would want to be associated with it and will also put laws in place which will be hard on offenders until it gets to be a shame to be named in any corrupt case.
ND: Are you happy with the way Zec is preparing for the elections?
VM: The field is still not even. Zec is biased. Public media houses are for Zanu PF. There should be equal coverage for all parties by ZBC. Half the news on ZBC is reporting about the good Zanu PF is doing or donating. One will wonder if they have been this hard working or doing that good the economy would have been stable