Former Industry minister and 2018 presidential candidate Nkosana Moyo said he stepped down as leader of the opposition Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA) because it was time to pass on the baton.
Moyo (NM), who is also the founder of the Mandela Institute of Development Studies, said when APA was founded it was agreed that the institution must exist outside of personalities that founded it.
Below are excerpts from the interview
TN: Dr. Nkosana Moyo welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
NM: Thank you Trevor. Your second time around hey?
TN: I know. Nkosana, I enjoy talking to you because you challenge the way I think, and you challenge the way a lot of us think, so you are an asset to this country and thank you for creating the time.
NM: My pleasure.
TN: So you have stepped down as a president of the Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA)?
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Why now and what has been the thought process of saying I need to quit?
You know I asked this question because when you look around, founders of political parties tend to move around with them as a briefcase they never let go!
What is going through your mind to say I need to let go now?
NM: Firstly, you know the concepts of the seasons of man, I mean I am in my afternoon, possibly Sunset, all depends yeah?
I think APA started off with a very clear conceptual framing, and in everything we do we want to continue to demonstrate that it was not just words.
We meant what we said. I was going to be a one-time president, I am 71 years old, so in the language of a relay it is time for me now to pass on the baton and expect the institution to exist outside of the personalities.
That is what we are trying to say, what we are trying to do, what we claimed we were going to do, and that is what we are demonstrating.
TN: But there is also something to be said about founders, the dreamers, staying for a certain period to nurture the dream and nurture the vision.
You are comfortable that the organisation is strong enough to do without you?
NM: I am comfortable that we, because it never was I, so that is the starting point which is really important.
So, I was one of the founders, not the founder, and those people are still around.
So, the institutional framing, the thought process was never owned by any individual.
The same way that people have argued that when you look at and the Rivonia trial, the words he spoke, although he said I, actually was representing a group of people, that is called institutionalisation.
Therefore, I am convinced that the thought process of what motivated an APA kind of initiative will persist.
TN: What lessons did you learn during the journey of creating APA and where you are right now, about yourself and about the politics of this country?
NM: I suppose there are many, there are many lessons.
I think one of them is that when you are part of a founding group, you live, breathe, dream literally the ideas that you are cooking up.
After a certain point it becomes to you like this is obvious, this is not rocket science, but I think it can lead to mistakes in the sense that you need to understand when you then take it out there the people you are talking to, the people you are engaging with are starting from ground zero.
They have not gone through the same journey of literally living, dreaming, breathing this concept, and it takes much longer for them to get what it is you are going on about.
So, it is a huge lesson to understand.
You are starting off with people who are socialised to a particular current setup.
You are coming in with a very new way of framing things, it will take time, and you must condition yourself to that and accept it is a journey.
TN: Do you get the sense that the vision, the thinking is catching on? The new way of doing things that APA is all about?
NM: Let go back to the beginning. We started APA very close to the last election.
I mean it was by any measure very close to the last election.
You can look at the outcome in terms of number of votes as it was a very small number of votes, but actually it was a significant number of votes in the sense that at that point that number of people already were saying we understand this, okay.
So, if you then check that and say what has happened in the country continues to reinforce the message.
In many ways in a funny kind of thinking you could say what has happened has been very good for APA, because it forces people to keep going back and comparing what we said.
What we said was likely to happen, let us put it as likely to happen, because of the circumstances where we were coming from, the personalities, and when now they contrast our message with what has actually turned out to be, it keeps reinforcing actually the APA approach.
TN: Talk to me about, as briefly lay as you can, about the APA approach?
What is that message that you say to people and are sitting up and saying this is what they have been saying?
What is that message? What is that approach?
NM: Again, it has got a number of components to it.
The first one is that look at the name, the name was not an accident, the name was supposed to be sending a message to the ownership issue.
Who owns the thought process of choosing leaders?
It should be the people.
But I think people tend to take a very passive approach to this, they wait for the leaders to emerge and in our campaign, we kept telling people when you are electing the process of electing you are sitting at the selection panel.
All of the candidates are applicants for a job, they are literally applicants for a job.
So, putting on a framework, people are coming to me to apply for a job, what process must I go through in order to end up choosing a leader?
Firstly, I must do a diagnostic of the circumstances of my company i.e. my country.
Where is my country at the moment?
Before I even look at the candidates.
In the analogy of a company, before I write the job description of who I am looking for, I analyse the company.
What is it at this point in time that I need as the characteristics of a leader, because this is what my company needs at this point in time.
So, what does my country need at this point in time, okay?
I then frame on the base of where my country is.
If I need writing a new constitution, it must be clear I am going to be looking for somebody who has got an appreciation of constitution writing.
Law or constitution writing, let us say I am going through, all of the other pieces are in place, but we have got whatever the reason is an acute challenge with human rights, then in my formulation the job description I am going to be looking for somebody who understands.
If on the other hand the challenge is that of managing an economy, similarly I then say okay, in my job description it must follow that I want somebody who has got some experience of how an economy works.
So that is before people have even applied, because you are saying I am teeing up a framework for how I am going to look for a leader, because I am going to be sitting on this panel and when I look at the CV’s I must be looking for these characteristics because my country is at this point in time.
Does that make sense?
TN: It does make sense. I am looking surprised because in a way it is also disappointing, because and that is a powerful way of looking at things.
Do your diagnosis and then saying who fits this job.
My disappointment is we are so far from that.
Why am I saying that? Because to me, I am going to use a strong term.
Your rejection by people, Simba Makoni’s rejection by the people says to me do the people understand the assignment that they ought to be giving a leader?
Or it is an emotional thing?
I come down to the conclusion that I do not think we actually understand what choosing our leadership is all about.
We get excited about rallies, we get excited about people that give us t-shirts, but do we stop and say the people that we are electing are people that we want to run in government like the way you saying like in a company.
So, for me to use that strong term, your rejection by the people, Simba Makoni’s rejection by the people says to me what kind of leader do our people need?
NM: You know Trevor I hear you, but I want to try and put a bit of a more positive twist to that.
I think making mistakes is human, and when you look across the world everybody makes the mistakes, even in terms of choosing leaders, everybody makes the mistakes.
For us the challenge is not that we make mistakes, the challenge is that there is no evidence that we learn from our mistakes.
That for me is a bigger challenge.
Earlier on you and I had a chat about life experiences, and I was telling you that in my book there is not a single thing that has happened to me which is a negative because I have conditioned myself to extract lessons from it, the positives that lead me to then make better informed decisions.
So, when a nation or a society makes a decision which turns out to be not as good a decision as they could have made, if they then demonstrate that they are factoring in that experience into the next decision they make, I think that is fine.
TN: They are growing.
NM: They are growing.
But when you make the same mistake time and time again, that is what you then have to challenge yourself to say what is going on here?
Also to be fair to Zimbabweans, I think we then have to look at maybe the problem is not so much that people do not see what they ought to be doing, we need to also take into account that we suspect, let us say we suspect, that the decisions people make are not the decisions that are announced as what the people have decided okay.
So you have to factor that in, that actually we all we have to be careful about the actions of the people and what is ultimately announced.
Are we confident that reflects the mistake or good judgment that the people exercised or not?
“In Conversation With Trevor” is a weekly show broadcast on YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor. The conversations are broadcast to you by Heart and Soul Broadcasting Services