"Mugabe is not the problem".

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position:Movement for Democratic Change, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe political conditions - Interview

Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe's minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs, says the local opposition has been hoodwinked by the West into thinking that President Mugabe is the wrong person for the country, but he is not. "President Mugabe is not a problem in this country, he is not a dictator. He works in accordance with the current constitution, and the current constitution gives him the powers that any constitution gives to a president anywhere in the world," says Chinamasa in this interview with New African..


New African: The UK and other Western governments claim that your last parliamentary election on 31 March this year was, to quote The Times of London, "the most fraudulent ever". What do you say?


Chinamasa: That is nonsense. In fact, we have to be credited for organising the freest, fairest and most transparent election you can find anywhere in the world, and I think observers who are open-minded and fair-minded do acknowledge that in fact our election was well organised. Just look at every aspect of it--there was hardly any serious criticism that you could level at the process that we undertook.

NA: It is true that you introduced a new electoral regime, which included a new electoral law. And this time around, the state even provided funds for the campaigns of the two main parties

Chinamasa: Yes. Under our political parties finance law, parties that reach a certain threshold in terms of the support they have from the electorate are entitled to funding from the state. We do this because we want home-grown political parties. We don't want parties that are funded by foreign governments and interests, because they have a tendency to undermine the sovereignty of developing countries. In fact we prohibit foreign funding of our political parties.

NA: So where does the MDC stand then?

Chinamasa: We all know they still receive foreign funding which basically makes the playing field uneven. We know they still receive funding from Western governments, Western NGOs which are basically state institutions, and Western intelligence services. We also know that there are certain radio stations--one is based in a neighbouring country I will not name, others are based in Holland and America--that beam propaganda onto our population in an obvious attempt to prop up the MDC. So we know that the playing field is not even and it is to our disadvantage. But notwithstanding that, we have been able to beat them resoundingly because our people understand that no country can get very far if its citizens do not have access and control of their own resources. And one achievement we have scored not only in Zimbabwe but also internationally is the principle that local access to resources should be in the hands of the country's citizens, and our people understand that.

So not withstanding our difficulties--shortage of fuel, the uneven playing field in terms of financial resources and access to the world media, our people have resoundingly given us the mandate to continue on the path that we started over five years ago.


NA: But the MDC also says that ZANUPF was funded by the South African government and intelligence service. Is that true?

Chinamasa: That is not true.

NA: So why are they saying it?

Chinamasa: The MDC should learn to be good losers. Their problem is that they will find all sorts of excuses to explain why they have lost the confidence of the people who voted for them in 2000. The truth is that the MDC lacks policies, in fact they have only one policy--to say that Mugabe must go. Now that is not even a policy. They do not offer any alternative policies on the basis on which they can be elected. They are very thin on policies and more on sloganeering and apportioning blame, that is why they have lost...

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