HARARE – Our Bulawayo reporter, Jeffrey Muvundusi, talks to president of the newly-formed Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (ZIPP) president Blessing Kasiyamhuru. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Briefly tell us who Blessing Kasiyamhuru is?
A: Kasiyamhuru is a humble and God-fearing man of God with a Christian upbringing and values. I am a holder of masters degrees in Management and Development Finance, PhD in Public Development and Management and am a post-doctoral Political Science student at the University of Wits Watersraand in Johannesburg, with years of consulting experience in Governance and Strategy within the region.
Q: Give us a brief background of ZIPP. What’s your motivation?
A: ZIPP was conceived in 2008. Our post-Zanu PF solution focus makes us distinct and unique. The discovery of the missing link between the liberation heroes and the opposition political parties has motivated us to launch ZIPP. We have a convergence of captains of industries and young entrepreneurs that are keen to partner with us to make Zimbabwe great again.
Q: What’s your plan and how do you intend to be relevant in the current political discourse?
A: Our vision is to build a prosperous Zimbabwe – a great nation, a nation that has Godly values at its core; that is free: free of fear, poverty, free to choose and change its political leaders, a nation that is a member of the community of nations and a leader among nations.
We have more than four million virgin voters to woo in 2018. We have more than two million disgruntled voters who have already given up hope on democracy as a system of selecting political leadership. Our plan is to educate these voters to participate in 2018. We will employ an aggressive marketing plan that is based on proven corporate marketing strategies. Our focus is on posterity – nhaka, ilifa for our great grandchildren.
Q: Some have viewed political parties being formed during this period as Zanu PF babies meant to distract the electorate?
A: We are not a faction of Zanu PF. We are not an opposition political party ourselves but a government-in-waiting. Our parents are Zanu PF, MDC-T, PDP etc. We have reverential respect for them but our convictions are that they should rest and we take care of them from the prosperity we are going to create.
Q: Who makes up ZIPP and what policies are you offering as alternatives to those that have been unveiled by other political groups?
A: We are Zimbabwean yet we reflect the current sad reality of dispersion of young talent. We are all economic refugees in foreign lands, yet the call to lead Zimbabwe is something we cannot ignore.
We abhor patronage. We will separate ZIPP, the ruling party’s business, from the government of Zimbabwe’s business.
The catalyst is a conducive investment environment for the investor, primarily the Zimbabwean who is already building wealth locally and in foreign lands. We will only welcome Foreign Direct Investment on our own terms. We will have 200-500 year management plans for all our dwindling natural resources. We will not mortgage national resources for personal gain or crises management.
Q: What’s the logic behind first launching your party in a foreign country, in this case South Africa, and now I understand you want to do a second launch in Mutare?
A: South Africa has been home away from home for about 3 million Zimbabweans. We had to reach out to all Zimbabweans in the diaspora, to educate them that it’s time to go back home and be successful in Zimbabwe.
I must say our message has been received positively by Zimbabweans in Southern Africa, United Kingdom, Europe, the USA and Australia. We aim to reach all Zimbabweans home and abroad.
Our home launch will be in Mutare, although we are a national party with a national mandate. We will have peaceful rallies across the nation within the next few months.
Q: You spent time in South Africa, does your stay and exposure in the neighbouring country contribute to the policies that ZIPP would be offering as alternatives?
A: The economic meltdown in 2008 prompted us to start putting together solutions and implementation strategies for Zimbabwe. Many among our ZIPP leadership have learnt a lot about public administration through projects in the South African national and provincial governments, through projects in the Botswana government and Sadc secretariat.
Many have also had exposure to international organisations like the UN and its various agencies. Yet many more have been captains of industries for international blue-chip companies, banks, utilities and mining giants.
Q: How do you think your academic background will help take the country to Canaan?
A: Academia alone is not what we need as Zimbabwe. We have no shortage of doctors and professors. What Zimbabwe needs are great leaders that are accountable to the nation, leaders that fear God and leaders that have managed budgets 20 times the Zimbabwean GDP. ZIPP has such leaders and implementers among our team.
Q: Zanu PF favours dealing with China, in your view, what is the best way of rebuilding the economy and who should be engaged?
A: We will work with anyone as long as their interests coincide with Zimbabwean national interests, guided by our national resource management plans. If anyone thinks they can come into Zimbabwe and colonize our country economically or politically, they will be surprised.
Q: You on record saying ZIPP does not subscribe to a coalition, something most opposition parties are calling for. What gives you the confidence that you can go it alone and win in the next election?
A: Some political parties have already split many times because of the differing visions of their leadership. We have no desire to contaminate our vision. We are also not going to create opportunities for recycling personalities just for political expedience that benefits a few individuals.
We should also not create a monster institution called one party state, where will be the opposing voice if we all become homogeneous in thoughts and actions. We believe multiparty democracy promotes creativity and diversity. Lastly if a coalition were to win, it would result in a bloated government, which will only eat away the gains anticipated by our prudent policies.
Q: But we have positive examples in Gambia and Kenya where current sitting presidents were ushered in via coalitions?
A: We also have many examples of single political parties that have taken power constitutionally in Africa and the world. Zanu PF and all other opposition political parties or independents will be competing for the same leadership throne of Zimbabwe.
We have no fear of anyone because we are confident of our calling and mandate from God and the people of Zimbabwe. We respect their decision to join in coalition but it’s not our method.
Q: In case you win the 2018 elections, judging by your confidence, what will you change for the better?
A: You are right about ZIPP winning elections in 2018. We will also win 2023. Our 10-year plan is to fully implement rule of law, remove any sanctions against Zimbabwe and, implement e-government, introduce 4 000MW into the national grid, dualise all national roads, rebuild rail network, revitalise agriculture through partnerships, bring back Zimbabwean investment and become a member of the international community of nations.
Q: People in Matabeleland are still bitter about the Gukurahundi atrocities. As a party, how do you seek to address that sad past?
A: On this and many other historical atrocities and sad episodes of the past, we as children of the fathers are guilty of same. We do accept the responsibility to atone for our fathers’ sins.
Kupedza ngozi kuyiripa. Gukurahundi, Chimoio, pre- and post-elections violence victims in past elections and even colonial wounds from oppression means we are a nation needing healing. As the nation heals and economy recovers, we build monuments in acknowledgement of these sad episodes, we also compensate cases as they are referred to us by an independent judiciary.
Q: How do you view Sadc? Is it relevant in its role as a mission during local elections?
A: Sadc is relevant as a regional body for economic and political cooperation. Without Sadc, Zimbabweans would be in a hundred times worse position today in these hard times. We are thankful to the regional body for its efforts to bring sanity to the perennial political, social and economic woes that that faced Zimbabwe as a nation for the past 15 years or so.
Q: We have seen patronage and nepotism-based appointments to State-run enterprises, what’s your plan in reviving parastatals?
A: An efficient public service is a result of appointments based on merit, ensuring accountability and monitoring of results and targets. ZIPP as an implementing party is big on good governance, accountability and zero tolerance to corruption in all its forms.