INTERVIEW: Blessed Mhlanga
JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi speaks to our senior reporter Blessed Mhlanga on electoral reforms, diplomatic relations and the late former President Robert Mugabe.
ND: Mugabe was a child from the province. What is the feeling here following his death?
ZZ: As you can see, the people are unhappy over the departing of our icon, but at the same time we are in a celebratory mood; celebrating his life, liberating us, restoring our dignity and also for giving us economic empowerment. He took the land and gave it to the rightful people. He stood for what Zimbabweans are and that is the man that we are celebrating today here.
ND: Some people would like to understand how you respect him as an icon, yet Zanu PF is the one that also removed him from power?
ZZ: I think there is no contradiction. We are a party that, from time to time, continuously renews itself. The moment that I was made Minister of Justice, what remains for me is to be removed, but it does not take away the good works that I would have done. That there was a leadership renewal in Zanu PF does not erase everything that he did. He is the founding father of the nation. He is one of the founding fathers of Zanu PF. He brought liberation to the country. He brought the policy of national reconciliation at independence. He brought unity of our parties.
ND: You wanted to impeach that icon. As the party, you moved a motion in Parliament to impeach him.
ZZ: That is exactly what I am saying. As a party we have our own internal dynamics, but it does not mean that whatever happened will remove the footprints of the Mugabe that we are talking about. He will remain our icon, he will remain the liberator of Zimbabwe regardless.
In any family, mother, father, children, they fight even among themselves but it does not take that away from the family. That child remains a child of that family.
ND: So does it mean it is just mere politics when you called him a sell-out? Some of the leaders, not necessarily you, but the likes of Mabel Chinomona and Oppah Muchinguri referred to him as a sell-out.
ZZ: I would not want to dwell too much on emotional speeches. You see, I come from a big family. I have fought with my brothers, but after fighting, we reconcile. If you glorify petty fights, you lose the bigger picture. Even when he was alive, there were times when he would even rebuke his comrades, and the next day you will find him walking hand-in-hand with that person. So I believe he remained a hero within Zanu PF.
ND: I want to understand, is there a policy shift in leadership or not? We have had allegations that there is no change.
ZZ: We are Zanu PF, where do you want to shift us from? I will remain a son of Zvimba, specifically the son of the Ziyambi family. Why would you want me to shift from that position? We are Zanu PF, we have our own internal dynamics and changes, but our ideological thinking will remain the ideological think of Zanu PF.
ND: There are issues that come to mind, security reforms and electoral reforms. These are some things that Mugabe did not want touched, but you are touching them now. Are you genuine in the way you are dealing with them?
ZZ: He never said he doesn’t want electoral reforms. In fact, when he was still there, we amended the Electoral Act. I am very cautious of what you terms security sector reforms. What do we need to reform about the security sector? Their mandate is in the Constitution, the Constitution gives them the mandate. So you are telling me that we need to reform the Constitution?
ND: When President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into office, I attended a Press conference where then police spokesperson admitted there were things police had done wrong and they were changing. The fact that they could do wrong things needs to be reformed in itself, don’t you think?
ZZ: They are operational changes, not security sector reforms. You have to appreciate that there are certain things you change the way you are doing them, moving with times. But what we do not believe in, as a government and as a party, is to embrace everything that the West brings to us. As a country, we look at the situation and say how do we move forward to ensure that the security of our country is intact.
ND: You head a ministerial task force to look into electoral reforms and a lot of other issues. Can you give us an update on that.
ZZ: We have finalised our work. I am still to report to him (President Mnangagwa) and after reporting it to him, I am still to take it to Cabinet, so for now, it’s inside my heart.
ND: When are you likely to do this?
ZZ: We have timeframes, we have to do certain reforms before the next elections.
ND: I understand that the Political Actors Dialogue is also discussing, among other things, electoral reforms, but you said you have already concluded.
ZZ: Polad does not have legislative authority.
ND: So everything you have already finalised cannot be changed?
ZZ: Polad feeds into the President, the President has legislative authority and it comes to Parliament.
ND: At the launch of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission awareness campaign, you took on the European Union (EU) ambassador, what was going on in your head?
ZZ: I think the EU ambassador took the occasion at the launch of the anti-corruption campaign to speak about issues of human rights and I also took the occasion to remind him that we must holistically speak about human rights. You impose sanctions, you are abusing the human rights of those people.
If you are so much concerned about the rights to demonstrate, because all rights are equal, also give the same importance to the socio-economic rights of the very people.
Otherwise you don’t impoverish people so that you magnify the rights to demonstrate. Give people a level ground; remove sanctions so that you don’t induce sufferings and all people to enjoy rights that are equal, that was my message.
Don’t be a hypocrite, you will be talking about human rights yet you are trampling upon the same rights that are talking about, you are being very hypocritical. He needed to be told in like manner like what he had done.
ND: You did not fear crossing the diplomatic line at that moment?
ZZ: He had already crossed the line, diplomats are supposed to keep to their mandate not to get into areas that they are not supposed to get into.