In Conversation With Trevor: ED tried to kill opposition, says Mutambara

ED tried to kill opposition, says Arthur Mutambara

Former deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara says President Emmerson Mnangagwa wanted to destroy the country’s main opposition party by denying it funding and using other unorthodox means.

Mutambara (AM) told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN) on the platform In Conversation with Trevor that Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa  and his party deserved praise for resisting the onslaught.

He described CCC and Chamisa as the bona fide opposition in Zimbabwe.

TN: Professor Arthur Guseni Oliver Mutambara, I am excited to have you. Welcome.

AM: Thank you very much for this opportunity to share with your viewers.

TN: Fantastic. We want to tap into your wisdom today.

Before we go there, Guseni Oliver? I am always fascinated by the middle names. What is the significance of those names?

AM: Guseni means ndagutsikana (satisfied: Someone is happy to have a son).

So my father had three daughters before I was born, so he said ndagutsikana Guseni.

He was not being very creative because his father did the same when he got Benjamin Mutambara who was called Guseni as well.

TN: Right.

AM: So Guseni, I have a son.

TN: And Oliver?

AM: My uncle, brother to my mother was called Oliver Ndora.

TN: Fantastic. We are sitting here Prof and we are surrounded by your books, and you have done quite a lot. You have been, like I said, the former Zimbabwe prime minister...

AM: Deputy prime minister.

TN: Deputy I am sorry, deputy prime minister. Do you sometimes stop and like pinch yourself, is this me?

When you look back is this what you thought would happen with your life?

AM: Not exactly the way it turned out, but I have always been ambitious.

 I grew up in a very competitive family.

When we came back from school and you were number two (in class) no one was interested in your report card.

You know, three sisters older than me, coming back is number one respectively.

So when I went to school number one was the default position, and so at some point I was very caught up on academic excellence.

But then I realised no I need more than academic excellence, I must care about society, social responsibility, understanding society.

So I have always been very keen to make a difference in society, so I am not surprised.

TN: You are not surprised.

AM: Yeah. But I could not have predicted the way things turned out, but I was ambitious from a very early age, from high school.

TN: We will get to that part of your life. You have brought us books that you have written.

One that I am particularly interested in is Ideas & Solutions.

When you were deputy prime minister and beyond, in search of the elusive Zimbabwean dream.

On the table there are three books, this has been an anthology.

 Volume One was The Formative Years & the Big Wide World, Volume 2 was The Path to Power.

I was fascinated by that title, the path to power. Was your path to power deliberate? Calculated?

AM: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I have always wanted to make a difference, and in fact path to power is kind of pejorative, it is path to influence, path to making a difference, but you know when you write books you want to give a catchy title to your book.

So path to power, actually it is not even very creative, Margaret Thatcher has a book similar to that.

We are emphasising the journey, the path to influence.

TN: Right.

AM: So in a way because I have always wanted to make a difference, I was not surprised.

But the way I got to power surprised me, you know. To become deputy prime minister...

TN: What surprised you about getting into power?

AM: It was very circumstantial, or you know the split in the MDC, then the colleagues reached out to me, then I got involved.

It was a hung Parliament, negotiations, deputy prime minister.

I mean I could not have scripted that, I could not have planned that.

However, I am not surprised by the opportunity to lead because I have always wanted to make a difference.

TN: In that split within MDC, you were called, who made the call first?

Was it Welshman or you made the call?

AM: Ah no, the colleagues approached me.

TN: Okay.

AM: The details are in the books, but the colleagues approached...

TN: But people have not read the book so this is the opportunity for you to share.

AM: The colleagues approached, and then I reviewed the situation and I took a plunge, and made mistakes and also got something right.

TN: When you look at it, I mean we are  in an election year now 2023.

It is, I think almost four weeks before or is it five weeks or so before the election.

You were in the GNU, you were influential, you had walked the path to power.

When you look now where we are with an election so close to us what concerns you about the terrain?

The players, the circumstances that we find ourselves?

AM: The major issue that concerns me is the same old story; unfree and unfair elections.

The voters roll is not available, the opposition is having a hard time holding their rallies, opposition leaders are in prison, (Jacob) Ngarivhume and (Job) Sikhala are locked up.

The media, the traditional media, state TV and state (news)papers are not covering the opposition.

So the traditional story of the unfree and unfair elections worries me because we are going again into this issue of legitimacy, and this has been going on since 2000. So 23 years, we have not found a way in this country to carry out free, fair and credible elections.

That is my concern.

TN: That is your concern.

AM: And the second concern is that I am not very clear about the vision, what are you going to do when you get in?

What is your economic vision for Zimbabwe?

TN: For who?

AM: For everybody.

TN: Okay.

AM: What is your strategy to achieving that vision?

Where is your implementation matrix? Who is going to do what?

When are they doing it?

What are the milestones to measure success and lack of it?

The detailed implementation planning across the board, those are my concerns, but I must give credit to those who are in the arena.

TN: Always isn't it?

AM: Yes.

TN: It is easier for you and I to sit today...

AM: That is why I always give credit and respect the players.

TN: You say a very important thing, the same old story.

AM: Yes.

TN: An election that is likely to be disputed because the voters' roll is not in place, the opposition is not being allowed to campaign, public media is not covering the opposition.

We have got people in prison. My question to you there would be so why are we doing it?

AM: We have to do it, and we can't give up until we get it right. Why?

Because we owe to our people to test the system, to fix the system, and one way of fixing the system is participation you know.

Participation in the processes, in the activities of democracy is important and eventually we will get it right.

TN: So we participate even when we know as we sit here, right before, that the outcome is almost known.

AM: We have to do that, and eventually something will give, eventually we will get it right and also, we cannot give up.

It is not an option giving up on ourselves, and no one is coming to save us.

We are the change that we want to see in the country, we are the ones we have been waiting for so there is no way, we have got to continue and that is why we support those who are in the arena.

In particular the bona fide opposition, I must make that very clear.

The bona fide opposition in this country is CCC and Nelson Chamisa.

They have done very well given what Emmerson Mnangagwa and his party had thrown in their way.

Taking away their party headquarters, taking away the MPs; taking away their money.

Mnangagwa and Zanu PF have tried to destroy the opposition, and so to their credit the CCC and their leader have survived in spite of the challenges that have been presented to them.

So yes, they have made mistakes, yes, they are not perfect, but we must give credit where credit is due. The bona fide opposition in the country is CCC and Nelson Chamisa.

TN: Where do you think the problem is for us as a society? This is for me, and correct me if I am wrong, push back as much as you can.

Where is the problem? Us the people? The political actors?

You are 100% right, we have got to fix this. But where does the problem lie?

Because at the end of the day somebody said people get a leadership that they deserve.

AM: And that is correct.

TN: Do we deserve this leadership?

AM: That is correct because sometimes we are too creative for our own good.

We find a way to survive and not confront the problem.

We get out of the country, we, you know, kiya-kiya, and get around without confronting the challenges and solving the problems.

So, it is important that as Zimbabweans we must realise that we will never be respected as a Zimbabwean until Zimbabwe has solved its challenges.

You could be a rock star in academia, a rock star in journalism, in business, but as long as our country is in a quagmire, our country has fraudulent elections, our country's economy is dysfunctional, you will never be respected.

We must take it personally, what I call a vested interest approach to Zimbabwe.

Irrespective of your station in life, we cannot all be politicians, but in our different ways we might find ways to solve and contribute to the salvation of our country.

So, the challenge is that Zimbabweans sometimes find ways to get around and survive without confronting and solving their challenges.

We have to confront our challenges, we have to solve them because none of us will be respected unless and until Zimbabwe is a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation.

TN: So, there are some people who are saying there is likely to be a GNU after this election.

There are people of faith, the church, that have said let us have a sabbatical to allow us to fix the country, the problems that you have just highlighted right now.

Where do you stand as far as those two issues?

There has been talk of a transitional arrangement/mechanism?

Where do you fall as far as those are concerned? Particularly the possibility, the talk that there might be a GNU?

AM: The starting point for me, the bottom line, the non-reducible minimum, is having a free and fair election.

Once we do that the winner in their wisdom can then reach out to the losers and say in the interest of the team Zimbabwe approach, come let us work together in an arrangement that is national, but on the basis and the foundation of a free and fair election.

If Nelson Chamisa and CCC win, the same prescription for me is to reach out on the other side and set up a team Zimbabwe approach.

If Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF do win I would urge them to do the same. A team Zimbabwe approach, a team of rivals, but on a foundation of a credible, free and fair election.

Sabbatical, no we cannot do that, it is unconstitutional.

We have a constitution that says every five years we go to elections, we must do that, unless and until we change the constitution to provide for a sabbatical.

A sabbatical is unconstitutional and not practical anyway. The protagonists will not allow that, so I am not a daydreamer.

“In Conversation With Trevor” is a weekly show broadcast on  The conversations are broadcast to you by Heart and Soul Broadcasting Services. The conversations are sponsored by WestProp Holdings.

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