FORMER Zanu PF Manicaland provincial executive vice-chairman, Cde Joseph Mujati was suspended from the ruling party in 2018 and had his suspension recently lifted by the Politburo. During his suspension he remained a loyal cadre and has since bounced back into the provincial structures.
Our Senior Reporter, Samuel Kadungure (SK) recently caught up with Cde Joseph Mujati (JM), to find out his thoughts on his recent reinstatement into the provincial structure. Below are excerpts from the interview.
SK: Briefly tell us, who is Cde Joseph Mujati?
JM: Joseph Mujati is a Zanu PF provincial member from Makoni District, which is the biggest party district in Manicaland. I am married and a proud father to Brian, Michelle, Tino, Thandeka and Nonceba.
SK: You were recently re-admitted into the party, may you shed more light on circumstances leading to your suspension?
JM: I am unfaltering when it comes to defending what I believe in. I believe in the new dispensation and was intimately involved in the processes that ushered in a new dawn in Zimbabwean politics. My suspension was in 2018 just as we were coming out of the national harmonised elections.
It all started during a provincial leadership meeting where we had gathered for a closed door review of our performance as a province in the national elections. I expressed my personal view that considering the solid grassroots’ party support base, the results would have been much more emphatic had the provincial members fully exerted themselves and gone into it as a united front.
This was a period of uncertainty for some members in various positions of leadership given how some had secured their positions.
It is my feeling that some people did not take my opinion kindly. I was misunderstood and personal differences crept in. While the majority felt my views were factual, a few held the view that my presentation boarded on some kind of defiance.
The next thing that came was my suspension.
SK: What lessons were learnt from your suspension and eventual re-admission?
JM: The period was indeed stressful for me, but it gave me an opportunity for introspection. I am now in a position to see things from a different perspective. I got to learn that leadership is about team work and being accountable. Leadership is about working with others, jointly accepting and taking responsibility for results, be they below expectations or phenomenal.
SK: What message can you send to all those who were once suspended or are still suspended from the party?
JM: I would say Zanu PF is a big institution with people of divergent views, some of which might be different from yours, but what is important is what binds us together as a family.
Home is home no matter what. Patience! Your time will come and you can be part of this happy family again.
The Arabs say, “No matter what, do not get out of the tent”.
Yes, one might feel they may have been victimised or might have been elbowed out for personal reasons, but such is life. Whoever said life is fair? I would say take a back seat, relax, introspect and look at ways through which you can improve yourself to serve the people better. The time will come.
Home coming sure is sweet.
SK: How did you get into politics?
JM: I am just a political animal. I have always taken interest in governance issues. Growing up as a young township boy, I was conscious of the evils of racial discrimination that were evident from the way we lived and what my parents were subjected to as compared to what we saw on the few and sporadic visits to the affluent whites only areas.
I was conscious of the unjust and cruel effects that racism had on us as a black township community. The squalor and overcrowding always left a sour taste in my mouth. My father and elder brothers would always talk of ill-treatment in the workplace.
This left me feeling helpless. I always wished I could do something to change the way my family members lived and take away the unhappiness.
That motivated me to take an interest in politics at an early age.
Growing up, I stated associating with like-minded people and it has always been my wish to influence decisions so as to alleviate the suffering of the marginalised.
SK: What advice would you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JM: For those who want to embark on this journey, I strongly urge them to be loyal to the party and its leadership at all times. I urge them to exercise patience and to be disciplined. I urge them to speak their mind openly and to express themselves through the rightful channels whenever they might feel the interests of the party are not being served.
SK: Do you think you could get any better as a politician? And if so, how would you achieve that?
JM: Coming from Makoni, I am privileged to have walked in the shadow of some of the most loyal and disciplined cadres in the party. I have been able to dip into the political experience reservoirs of unwavering leaders such as Cde Shadreck Tongesai Chipanga. I believe that it is crucial to learn from the experiences of others.
SK: What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for your political career?
JM: Were it not for politics, I would definitely be in football administration. I am a staunch Dynamos supporter and everywhere the team went back in the day, I would go, from Egypt to Johannesburg. Every time Dynamos played Highlanders in Bulawayo, I was there.
SK: Do you enjoy debating politics with your friends? Do they have similar views with you?
JM: I live politics and I enjoy listening to divergent views. It is my conviction that one never ceases to learn and so I enjoy the company of those who embarked on this journey long before me.
SK: What is an average day like for you?
JM: I am a proud beneficiary of the Government’s land reform programme. This programme was championed by Zanu PF and my life revolves around farming activities.
I have always had a passion for farming and I am grateful to the Government for giving me the opportunity to play my part in ensuring food sufficiency for Zimbabweans.
SK: Zanu PF is working towards luring 5 million voters during the 2023 elections. As one of the provincial leaders, what role will you play in ensuring that the party garners the voters?
JM: Every person should cherish and protect their right to vote. It is every citizen’s responsibility to vote.
It is one of the major reasons why blacks in this country went through a protracted liberation war — the right to choose and the right to be heard.
I am a member of the largest political party on the land and it is my aim to continue growing the membership of my party by listening to and acting on the people’s need as well as tirelessly working for the improvement of people’s lives. For as long as Zanu PF continues to serve the people, the votes will continue coming as a reward.
Every party should be given the right to sell themselves to the electorate and the party that fully addresses the needs and aspirations of the electorate as Zanu PF does should carry the day in a peaceful electoral contest. Political parties should continue to compliment Government in providing enough voter education to encourage more legible people to exercise their right to vote.
SK: What should Zanu PF do to consolidate its ground between now and 2023?
JM: Zanu PF is a juggernaut, unstoppable once on the roll. It enjoys massive grassroots support from the days of the liberation war. Nothing beats a united Zanu PF.
It is simply the fundamentals that we as a party have to start working on. As the party of choice and the ruling party, we have to seriously attend to those issues that affect our people on a daily basis. For our supporters to keep the faith, we have to be serious in our fight against corruption.
We have to heed President Mnangagwa’s clarion call and back him in the mammoth task in the fight against the scourge. Corruption erodes the electorate’s trust in the party.
People are subjected to poor service delivery and communities are subjected to poor socio-economic standards because corruption eats away resources earmarked for the betterment of people’s lives. Going forward to 2023, the party needs to prove its commitment to improving people’s livelihoods and to eradicating corruption. The job is clear cut, provincial members have a task to foster unity among the ranks, listen to and convey to the leadership the concerns of the masses and ensure these concerns are addressed.
The party should also remain sensitive to and deliver on the expectations of the people.
Since the advent of the new dispensation, we are happy that Government has been on a massive re-engagement drive. Accept it or not, it is clear for anyone who bothers to look that this country has been under an economic embargo for years over issues relating to the land reform programme.
Sanctions have had a strangling effect on the economy and on Government’s ability to create employment.
The party, however, remains on the forefront, encouraging and nurturing small and medium enterprises as these have formed a large employment base for our youths. It is a fact that investment is a timid animal.
As a party, we will continue to lobby Government to continue formulating and employing policies that guarantee the security of invested capital.
We are beginning to see business sector confidence in various sectors, including in new industries. It remains our hope as party members that the economy will continue growing.
SK: Unity is key in achieving any objective. Manicaland was once said to be the home for factionalism, how is the situation now?
JM: Nothing beats a united Zanu PF. Manicaland, in other spheres, was referred to as the bedrock of a faction that rabidly fought against the emergence of the new dispensation.
Now we are at this stage of our journey, that should be regarded as water under the bridge. There is need to unite the people and focus on challenges ahead. In Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Cde Patrick Chinamasa, I can safely say Manicaland is in good hands.
SK: What do you think is the most important political issue at the moment?
JM: A lot has been clouded by the challenges that have been brought up by Covid-19, so all the attention is on health and how the country can navigate around the challenges. I applaud the party for the steps it has taken to ensure information dissemination on the pandemic. I acknowledge Government’s efforts to invest in health and child care.
However, there is definitely need for continuous investment and development in health, including in medical education institutions and hospitals so that we meet the health requirements of the nation.
SK: Now that you are back in the party, what’s next for you?
JM: Now that I have been reinstated into the provincial executive after being elected by the people of Makoni, I will continue to do my best as their representative. I will strive to work hard in whatever capacity I might be deployed in the party.