Opinion / Interviews
Chipanga chides Zanu-PF radicals
23 Jan 2017 at 05:38hrs | Views
As the Zanu-PF factional fights continue to take intriguing twists and turns, the party's youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga (KC) has vowed to crush any party guru who poses a direct threat to President Robert Mugabe.
Chipanga told NewsDay senior reporter Xolisani Ncube (XN) in an interview on Saturday that 2017 is a year government ministers and senior party officials should give Zimbabweans a reason to vote for the party in 2018 by concentrating on improving the economy as well as uniting party structures instead of fighting personal wars.
Below are excerpts from the interview
XN: On Friday the Zanu-PF national youth league held its inaugural 2017 meeting, what was the agenda of the meeting and what do you seek to achieve this year?
KC: Our meeting was basically about planning what we seek to achieve in 2017 going into 2018, as you are aware we have watershed elections next year. We have great plans for the party and have high expectations thereof from the party leadership and its supporters.
XN: What are your expectations and plans?
KC: We are looking at a year where we should not see factional fights or contradictions dominate our party meetings. This year, we are expecting total commitment from our membership, from the top to the bottom to commit itself to serve the people and improve the economy. We no longer want factionalism in Zanu-PF and that was the resolution of our meeting yesterday among other things.
We are working towards ensuring that those party cadres who are pushing for personal interests ahead of the wishes and desires of our people stop that and start to work for Zanu-PF. We want our economy to tick, and this can only happen when we all work together in unity.
XN: But we seem to be headed for a contrary scenario, we are seeing more factional fights now more than ever due to the unresolved succession issue, how do you intend to deal with that?
KC: My brother, we don't have a succession issue to talk about at the moment, but it is some misguided people who are now Zanu-PF members, who are pushing for that discussion. Real Zanu-PF people know that we have a president and the entire party leadership is led by President Robert Mugabe, who was voted for at the party's congress in 2014.
Those who are pushing for his ouster are outsiders who don't know what they are saying.
Yes, we have some misguided (element) within the party, but we are not concerned about them… we are planning for 2018, with President Mugabe as our candidate in that election.
XN: Do you see President Mugabe being able to campaign and lead this country, come 2018 looking at his age?
KC: The President is our candidate; we are not voting for age, but his knowledge and vision, which many younger people lack and only hope for.
XN: But he is 93 this year and would be 94 next year, are you not over burdening him? I suppose he needs, rest at that age?
KC: Xolisani, we are not looking for a man to drive a tractor or do a marathon from Harare to Bulawayo, we are looking for a man with the best brains and wisdom for Zimbabwe. We are looking for a person, who can give direction and provide leadership to Zimbabwe, something, which many or those who are saying he is old and must go do not have. So, for us as Zanu-PF youth league, we will support him as long as the Lord gives him breath, and his mental health is well and able to lead this great nation.
XN: You are 35 or so, what are you seeing in a 93-year-old man that has made you to support him given your age?
KC: I am 34 my brother, yes, what is your question?
XN: Thanks for the correction, as a 34-year-old youth, why are you supporting a 93-year-old man? What will he give you?
KC: [laughs] you see, as I stated earlier on, we are not looking for a man to do a marathon for us, but a leader to take this country forward. We are looking for a man with principles, dignity and a fighter who does not retreat when enemies come to attack. So that is found in President Robert Mugabe. He has a proven record of achieving and conquering where many would have failed. For us Mugabe is not just a leader, but a revolutionary icon and we are not compromising on that. We, as the youth league and the official vanguard of the party, the last defenders of the revolution, my brother, we will not allow those thinking to take over his post saying he is old to do so. Look, this is not an age contest that we have at hand, but dealing with wisdom, not just wisdom, divine wisdom for that matter.
XN: He has been in power for 36 years Chipanga and look at the state of our economy, what will he bring that is different. What new ideas will he introduce that can shape a new direction for Zimbabwe which he has not tried since 1980.
KC: You have asked a question predominantly asked by the opposition and I hope you are not one of them, anyway let me answer you … the opposition and other critics like you forget that we have been under sanctions for years.
Sanctions invited by the opposition, who today want us to believe that they have a solution to the problems. These are witches, who want to be witchdoctors at the same time. President Mugabe has undertaken decisions that have changed the economic structure of our country. He has made far-reaching decisions whose benefits are not going to be enjoyed by you only but even your grandchildren. He took away land from the whites, the economy is now in the hands of the people, and was attacked with sanctions. He still managed to steer the ship in the correct direction.
It did not sink instead we are now forging ahead. After realising the sabotage that was being done by other countries in destroying our economy through the importation of cheap goods, his government introduced SI64 (Statutory Instrument 64) and soon you will see how the local industry will rise again.
He has rolled out command agriculture and the heavens have heard the prayers of Zanu-PF people, we are receiving good rains. This year, I know for sure this economy will rise.
Just imagine, if it was another leader facing these challenges, we would be dead by now. So I have faith and know that President Mugabe, as long as he is alive, we will support him.
XN: Are you happy with the state of our economy presently?
KC: I was not happy in the past, but I am gradually becoming happy with government initiatives and programmes.
XN: Lets' go back to Zanu-PF factional fights, how do you relate with the Vice-Presidents, I mean both, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.
KC: We have a good relationship with all party structures from the President, the First Lady Grace Mugabe, politburo members, provincial leaders and even those at district level. The youth league is well-represented in those structures and we work with everybody who supports the party and its ideals.
XN: You have in the past attacked Mnangagwa, accusing him of plotting to take over from President Mugabe, how do you justify your relationship then?
KC: We have not attacked VP Mnangagwa or anyone working for the good of the party. We will not attack any leader, who is standing and obeying the rules and regulations of the party. But we will not tolerate malcontents to abuse the party be it within or outside. No! No! We will defend the President even with our blood, if it be so. We will not entertain party members, who associate with renegades, people should respect the party and its ideals, ethos and values.
XN: In the same vein, you were pictured smiling at the National Heroes Acre with some of the people you are calling renegades, and yet you were unhappy when Mnangagwa was pictured with the same people at his farm. What does that speak of you and the unhappiness?
KC: Thank you for being honest that I was pictured with some of these rebels who were kicked out of the party at the Heroes Acre. You must appreciate that I did not invite those guys to my house or farm, but we met at a public event and they came stampeding to be associated with me or Zanu-PF … this must tell you that its cold out there.
People must behave while in the party. So I could not stop greeting them to a public place, but I did not invite them at a private place. I don't want to talk about the VP, you can talk to him.
XN: You are organising a birthday bash for President Mugabe, what is the importance of this day to ordinary Zimbabweans.
KC: To us February 21 is not just a day to us, it is a special day we treat in the same manner Christians treat December 25, the birthday of Jesus Christ. I don't want to be blasphemous but in my humble view, President Mugabe is second to Jesus Christ. He is our saviour, so his birthday means a lot for us the youths of Zimbabwe.
He sacrificed a lot for this country as the Zanu-PF youth league, we are of the view that his birthday be made a public holiday.
XN: You mean it is important to warrant wastage of public resources when the country is suffering? What is the logic behind this comrade?
KC: It is not being organised by government but the party using resources sourced by the party.
XN: Normally government departments fund this?
KC: It is Zanu-PF that would have sourced the donations and not that government departments are obliged to fund such events no. we seek for donations and when a department does so, we receive with gladness.
XN: How much are you looking at spending on this event?
KC: We are yet to come up with a comprehensive budget for the event. We have asked provinces to draft their budgets and we shall have the national one soon.
Source - newsday
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