HIS name is Larry Mavima (LM). This is the man who together with former Cabinet minister July Moyo and many others, managed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political machinations from behind the scenes until Friday when their candidate landed the highest post on the land.
Besides being National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board chairman, Zanu-PF central committee member and former Midlands provincial vice-chairman, Mavima and his team played a pivotal role in engineering Mnangagwa’s ascendancy, in the process setting themselves on a collision course with former President Robert Mugabe’s heavy State machinery.
He is close to the First Family and has worked with Mnangagwa on a number of projects, including the construction of the ruling Zanu-PF party’s Midlands Conference Centre. He speaks to NewsDay (ND) reporter Blessed Mhlanga.
ND: Can you briefly explain how you feel following the inauguration of President Mnangagwa last Friday.
LM: I am a happy, excited and free man, what we fought for, for the last 20 to 30 years has happened today. Comrade Mnangagwa has been installed as the second Executive President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. This is what we have always wanted. There was nothing wrong with the former President (Robert Mugabe), but he just stayed too long and it’s not good for any nation to have a leader for 37 years. We could have had probably four or five different leaders by now, just like all our neighbours in Southern Africa.
ND: The Zanu-PF leadership has always revered Mugabe, describing him as the only person with brains to sustain the party and country against machinations of the West. Do you or did you subscribe to the notion that Mugabe was supper human?
LM: There is no one man with monopoly to power, intelligence, ideas, we need to constantly change and renew ourselves. By installing Cde Mnangagwa as President, we have renewed ourselves as a country, we can now look forward to the future. We don’t forget the past, we remember it. (But) We don’t live in the past.
ND: Can you tell us what he went through as he was being insulted in front of people by his juniors in government and the party.
LM: Well, we all went through hell from the G40 guys, but we knew that we would survive. I personally was attacked by G40 with Jonathan Moyo suggesting that I should be charged with treason. But now who is hiding, who is running away from his own country?
I can walk without fear because I am not a criminal, I don’t steal from government coffers. They ran away because of their criminal activities. The Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund is waiting for them to answer their case. Look, everyone is free, we have not had as many police around in the past week, as many soldiers that Mugabe used to have around him. Look where we are, we feel happy, we wish our new President well and hope that the people of Zimbabwe will give him a chance.
ND: Let’s go back to the treason issue that Moyo wanted you to be arrested for, distributing (Mnangagwa’s) statements, was it a treasonous act?
LM: I think we can ask Jonathan Moyo that if you find him I think he will be able to tell us. Personally, I don’t think there is anything treasonous. The Constitution gives us freedom of speech, freedom to communicate, I was merely communicating what my principal told me to do.
ND: On his Twitter handle the (former Higher Education) minister also accused you of fronting Mnangagwa at Hanawa Super Foods, what role does he (the President) play in the business?
LM: That is utter rubbish. It shows that he (Moyo) is not at the level he claims to be as a professor. His tweets suggested that no blackman can run a successful business without fronting those in government positions. It’s not my fault that he couldn’t found and run a big business, why could he say I can’t do it? Cde Mnangagwa is not a shareholder in Hanawa or any of my businesses. That is a family-owned business which can be verified at the Registrar of Companies. That was just all to tarnish my image and tarnish the image of the President.
ND: You are NRZ board chairman, what does this new era promise for the parastatal?
LM: Things will move a bit more faster, if you remember the first submission of the recapilatisation deal of NRZ to Cabinet was scuttled by G40 people because they thought it was a Team Lacoste project, but it was a project for Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe. I believe that the new Cabinet will expedite the processes. We are almost there in terms of the agreement as we have structured with DIDG Transnet and we hope that by the beginning of the first quarter that project will be implemented.
ND: There are sentiments that President Mnangagwa is pro-business, you know the man, could this be true?
LM: He is probably one of the finest, most articulate, intelligent and forward-looking businessmen in this country. I urge all businessmen and the corporate world to engage him to provide suggestions to him in terms of how this economy can be improved and how this economy can move forward. It will take every Zimbabwean to participate. It will not take the President alone, but all of us and I urge Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to come back and invest in the country. I also urge the international community to come in and see for themselves that Zimbabwe is open for business.
ND: Do you see the indigenisation policy being retained under the Mnangagwa leadership?
LM: Well, I think the President will take a look at it and see where amendments need to be made so that we accommodate the foreign investor so that we give enough protection and assurance to the foreign investor, at the same time empowering our own people.
ND: If you were to advise the President on bond notes, what will be your advice?
LM: Look, everything depends with the confidence levels of the people of Zimbabwe. We need our own currency and I am sure that in time policies will be crafted that will see the re-introduction of the Zimbabwean currency.
No country can exist without its own currency. At the moment, Zimbabwe is one of three countries in the world that doesn’t have its own currency and that is not sustainable. We cannot continue to work with the United States dollar as our currency, we have no control over its monetary policy. We need to have a currency where we can have control of the monetary policy. This government, this President is going to give direction that will give stability to the local currency.