On Wednesday, Dr Nkosana Moyo, who leads the Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA) as presidential candidate in the July 30 harmonised elections, launched the party’s manifesto. He joins 22 other contestants for the country’s top job and earlier this week he shared his political agenda, philosophy and prospects with The Herald’s Political Editor, Tichaona Zindoga.
You are not exactly a stranger to Zimbabwe’s politic, having previously served in Government under former president Robert Mugabe. Many people tend to classify you as a technocrat rather than a politician, but how do you describe yourself and what do you represent?
I am not a politician and I am not ashamed not to be a politician. I believe politics is practised in a certain way which has destroyed our country. I am a manager and I have been a manager for most of my working life. I believe that the characteristics of a manager are what we now need in this country in a phase that does not in any way denigrate what has happened previously. It has to be a phase which recognises the value of what has happened previously. It also recognises the need for moving into a different phase in order to lift our country to the next stage.
Let’s now move on and agree that we have paid a price for just coming from where we were. Some early issues were inevitable, but let us not stay stuck, let’s now move on and, like a team running a relay race, ask ourselves what we need to go to the next phase.
Let’s not stay stuck in a leadership that was immediately post-colonial. We have made a solid foundation for an independent Zimbabwe politically but I think as a people we need to accept that economically we have not done well.
Can we now get focused on getting the economy to work such that the independence that our people are now enjoying politically can now translate into the quality of their lives? For that to happen, what kind of leadership do we need? What kind of team do we need? We are not waging a war in the bush now; we are now waging a war in the economic space both domestically and internationally. That is the conversation we should be having, that is my thought process, that is how APA is.
We now need a team led by someone who understands not how to fight a war in the bush, but how to fight an economic war in the globalised world. What does that individual look like and what characteristics should they have to lead what kind of team? When we do that as a nation and accept these different stages that we have to go through, we cannot fail.
What is wrong with being a decent human being? Are we really trying to argue that politics by its very nature is only meant to have nasty people? People who abuse others and not respect human rights? I don’t recognise that, I personally believe that it is possible to have a totally decent human being lead a country and I think your relationship with the population when we talk about human rights, respect and integrity; the way you come across in interacting with ordinary people, must be from somebody who respects other people. If that is what being a nice guy means, then I am not ashamed to be the nice guy.
You are running a unique campaign mainly anchored on door-to-door campaign and you do not give away presents or handouts. Can you tell us the philosophical underpinning of that kind of approach and whether you are hitting enough numbers?
Again, I think it comes from what leadership means as opposed to rulership. Rulership is when you put yourself on a pedestal and all these people you consider as minions come to you. I want to lead my fellow citizens and for me what that implies is that it is my responsibility to go and see for myself where they live, how they live and what they are putting up with.
When they give me the responsibility, it is to address precisely those things.
That is why the campaigning style we have adopted forces me into those spaces unannounced. This is because when you announce, it becomes a contrived atmosphere; it is not a normal atmosphere. When you call people to a rally, that is not how they live, they don’t live at rallies and you preach to them then you get into your car and go away.
The people don’t get the respect to talk to you and tell you what is top of mind for them. What kind of leader do you become when you do not listen to the people you intend to lead?
So, how broad have you gone and what have you learnt from your interactions?
Firstly, let me tell you what I have seen. I have seen and driven on roads that are mind-boggling in terms of how independent Zimbabwe ended up at this stage. I have visited schools and hospitals that are very difficult for me to comprehend how we have done this to our people.
Because when I mention these facilities I am talking about service delivery to our people which has totally failed. Why would you want to lead a nation where your people live in conditions which deprive them of their dignity? We come from a history where we fought a liberation war saying we did not want our people to be treated as animals. For me it raises the question, what went wrong? Why have we gotten ourselves into this space where people can openly want to claim that a political leader is somebody who is not nice? You understand that question implies that? Then they don’t see the contradiction between what we have done to our people and then continue to ask for more tenures in leadership. As opposed to somebody who has got empathy, somebody who can bring himself to the same level and go and see and say this is not acceptable.
What are you promising the electorate; we are sure other parties are making promises?
That’s another interesting thing. Let’s start with what they ask for. Almost without exception, they will ask you to buy them something. In the Masvingo area, they have even developed an expression hanzi toda kumbokusvutai first kuti tigoona kuti tingafambe nemi here and I say guys, hatingaite mabiko tisati takohwa.
Right through this campaign, just watch what the other camps are doing. They are spending millions of dollars buying trinkets as opposed to spending millions of dollars doing something to change the lives our people. I think it is criminal. What I do is to be very nicely, very politely tell them why I am not going to buy beer and why I am not going to buy them trinkets. I want them to know that it is their responsibility to look at what kind of leadership they want for their country in order for their children to get jobs which they always complain about. Our country and our economy now is incapable of providing different livelihoods for our people because there are no jobs. You and us, have to work together to select a correct leader to create that circumstance where our children can now get jobs and it is not going to come out of me buying you a beer.
I want you to invest your time and thought processes in looking at all the people who are running and ask yourself who it is who is going to rebuild our economy. People are very clear when you ask them what do they think the country needs, every single one of them will say our children do not have jobs. I then say to them, how do we work to identify somebody who understands how an economy works, not a person who promises to buy beer. I was in Binga, I met a man who was amazing. He said when we look at our country, people forget that when the white people first colonised our country they gave us a chewing gum and this is what is happening in the modern day. People are exchanging their five-year votes for things that only last them a day or a week at most.
You are one of the 23 candidates that are vying for Presidency. Are you ready to build any alliances pre and post-election?
Before the election, absolutely not, we have been very clear about this. We believe that Zimbabweans are smart enough to make choices that they then have to live with. An alliance only makes sense when the results of an election do not give you a clear winner.
My parents were not educated, they sent me to school because they had incredible clarity on how our society was going to win over white people. I believe that even today, our people, with the help of the children they have educated, are totally capable of ploughing through that 23, analysing it and coming out with the right choice. In terms of alliance after the election, it depends on the outcome of the election but before the election we are not forming any alliance.
You, as well as independents, have been accused by mainstream opposition formations of attempting to split the opposition vote, how do you react?
How do you argue that you are a democrat and that people should choose and then on the other hand bring an argument like this? That argument actually insults Zimbabweans; that they are not capable of making a choice.
We come from a place where we say Zimbabweans are smart enough to make a choice. A genuine democrat wouldn’t raise such an argument. They talk about rigging an election, they actually want to rig an election upfront by removing a choice for people to make. So, who is the democrat? Let’s be consistent.