SW Radio Africa Transcript
Hot Seat interview: Jocelyn Chiwenga and Dr John Makumbe – understanding the ZANU PF mindset
Broadcast on 7 August 2007
Violet Gonda: It is difficult to understand why a regime would cause so much suffering on its own people. My guest on the programme Hot Seat is outspoken political analyst Dr. John Makumbe . In todayâ€™s discussion weâ€™re going to try to understand the mindset of the Mugabe regime. This is a regime that has been inflicting terror on civilians with impunity. Some say Jocelyn Chiwenga, the wife of the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, represents in stark form the mindset of ZANU PF. I am going to start by playing a discussion I had with Mrs. Chiwenga last week.
This was a day after she assaulted photojournalist Tsvangirai Mukwazhi at Makro Wholesalers in Harare . The journalist confirmed the assault with us but Jocelyn was in complete denial.
Violet: Hello can I speak with Jocelyn Chiwenga.
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Yeh who is speaking?
Violet: Hello this is Violet from SW Radio Africa.
Jocelyn Chiwenga: From?
Violet: SW Radio Africa
Jocelyn Chiwenga: What do you want?
Violet: I wanted to find out if reports that appeared in the newspapers are true that you attacked a journalist.
Jocelyn Chiwenga: No they are not true at all and you know what? Why donâ€™t you book yourself in British Airways first class I will pay for it and you can come and see for yourself. You people started writing without checking. So now you have seen my answer I am suing you for 1 billion US and I mean business.
Violet: You are suingâ€¦?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: They are not true.
Violet: Who are you suing?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: And I am not chefâ€™s wife. My name is Jocelyn Chiwenga.You have started all over again this war. Youâ€™re not gonna win it.
Violet: Mrs Chiwenga you sound so angry why are you this angry?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: What do you think? If it was you what would you say!? You wake up in the morning and everybody in the whole world is phoning you, how would you feel?
Violet: Did you not attack people at Makro supermarket in Harare yesterday?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Where you at the supermarket in Harare ?
Violet: Thatâ€™s why I am calling you â€¦
Jocelyn Chiwenga: If you were then why are you calling me?
Violet: â€¦ to find out from you
Jocelyn Chiwenga: I said if you were at Makro you would have been writing something else.
Violet: We have a journalist who confirms thatâ€¦
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Ohh, you have. Then why are you phoning me?
Violet: No but you are the one who has been accused
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Because I replied. Because I have replied and Iâ€™m taking action thatâ€™s why you are phoning me.
Violet: You are taking action against who?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: And who gave you my number? Who gave you my number?
Violet: But donâ€™t you thinkâ€¦
Jocelyn Chiwenga: for your own information let me tell you something
Jocelyn Chiwenga: This conversation I am taping it so you are, I know you are also taping it. And hello, yes I have the right to be angry; because you have started a war that you will not win! I am not Iraq !
Violet: Amai Chiwenga do you think itâ€™s right for people to just barge into shopping centres and start threatening people?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Okay, okay let me tell you something you are Zimbabwean right, are you not Zimbabwean?
Violet: I am Zimbabwean
Jocelyn Chiwenga: You are Zimbabwean, no no no are you Zimbabwean?
Violet: I have answered
Jocelyn Chiwenga: you are Zimbabwean or you are British?
Violet: I am Zimbabwean and I have answered that already
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Okay. You see, you are what?
Violet: I have answered that already that I am Zimbabwean
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Okay are you the ambassador of Zimbabwe ?
Violet: You know your words donâ€™t sound like those of a normal person or rational. What are you trying to imply here?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: You know what, you havenâ€™t really heard anything donâ€™t ever phone this number again do you understand me?
Violet: Amai Chiwenga in the rest of the world people are allowed different points of views why is this not allowed in Zimbabwe ?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Ayiwa iwe listen the rest of the world is now at war with me including yourself!
Violet: I am not at war with you.
Jocelyn Chiwenga: We gonna pick you up baby! And you are coming to write the truth. So tonight watch BBC and CNN you will see it and Zimbabwe television, you will see the truth and then when you do, tomorrow you will be apologising.
Violet: Amai Chiwenga but are you not ashamed of yourself that you hide behind your husbands power?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: F*** YOU MAN STUPID!!! (BANGS THE PHONE)
Violet: And she hung up on us. ButI did try to call her back and this is what happened.
A woman answers Chiwengaâ€™s phone: Hello?
Violet: Hello Amai Chiwenga?
Personal Assistant : Itâ€™s not Amai Chiwenga, itâ€™s the PA. Can I help you?
Violet: Can I speak with Ami Chiwenga please?
Personal Assistant : I am sorry right now she is busy. She is in a meeting.
Violet: When can I talk to her?
Personal Assistant : ehh I am not quite sure, (Chiwenga can be heard talking in the background) ehh hold on.
Jocelyn Chiwenga: Hello. I am behind the girl. Listen my baby darling. Read your email again. I am now suing you for $2 billion. BREAKING NEWS!! Bye!
Violet: You are suing me for 2 million?
Jocelyn Chiwenga: (she hangs up)
Violet: (laughing) Dr. Makumbe your thoughts on this?
Dr. Makumbe: (laughing) I can lend you $2 if you want.I think it will help.
Violet: Some say just listening to Jocelyn Chiwenga you get a good profile of what ZANU PF is like. Do you agree with this?
Dr. Makumbe: I agree entirely except of course she is more of an unpolished crude, if you like â€“ uncouth, uncultured version of ZANU PF. But ZANU PF elements are basically like that. They are arrogant. They are full of themselves and they are half-wits really. They are morons most of them. â€œBecause you have made a phone call to me the lawsuit has moved from $1 billion to $2billion.â€ (laughs) You know, you will have to be an idiot to think like that. But she is a good representative of the nature of the majority of the elements in ZANU PF, yes.
Violet: You know, it seems that most of the people in ZANU PF, that we do talk to, seem to be in denial. Every single time when we call them to comment on the situation in the country they never take responsibility of the situation on the ground and nothing seems to make any sense especially with the latest economic policies – where for example in one week you hear theyâ€™ve announced the ban of food imports and fuel coupons and then the following week they have reversed this. Do you agree that the regime is randomly hitting out on everybody without any thought?
Dr. Makumbe: I would go further than that Violet and say the regime is actually confused. They actually legitimately donâ€™t know what to do. Sometimes we are actually treating them as normal people when they are completely abnormal. Some of the decisions they make, for example, government vehicles have been getting fuel from the fuel depots that issue coupons. But they go and ban the fuel coupons and literally grounding half of the government fleet! So you actually see a moronic approach to some policies and a complete failure to understand how business operates or how the public will react to reduced prices, what the impact of that would be on manufacturing sector, on productivity and so forth. They actually are ignorant of the dynamics of some of the things they do.
Violet: What about their actual mindset. The situation in Zimbabwe has degenerated. What kind of people would allow things to degenerate like this?
Dr. Makumbe: These are people who are actually desperate Violet. The mindset is that of a desperate regime. Which, because it doesnâ€™t know what will work or what will not work, is busy bungling. Itâ€™s trying by trial and error, you know, this policy, that policy and they donâ€™t actually believe that they cannot themselves turn this economy around. They cannot in fact resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe themselves. They need help; they need to be rescued from themselves. As I said they are arrogant and full of themselves. The mindset is one of; â€œIf we donâ€™t do it nobody else can do it better.â€
Which really is the mind of an idiot because after 27 years of messing up if you think you need another five or six or ten years messing up again in order for things to get right, you must be a half-wit.
Violet: So do you think Zimbabweans are dealing very superficially with Mugabe and his lieutenants?
Dr. Makumbe: Yes I think so. I think Zimbabweans have gone beyond the level of tolerance to the level, I think, of absolute cowardice now. Because no normal country would allow the situation to deteriorate to the level it has without challenging the powers that be and I mean challenging very forcefully. Very vigorously without being violent but literally if people are asked to boycott work, they boycott work en masse. If people are asked to go into the streets and march they go there not in the few numbers of the NCA â€“ you know a few hundreds â€“ but in THOUSANDS! Literally making the regime sweat for every second it stays in power. That is not yet happening and Zimbabwean are paying the price of that level of cowardice, I think.
Violet: But where are the thinkers?
Dr. Makumbe: The thinkers are here and I think they are dead scared of thinking! They are therefore just equally cowardly. If you get a group of very brilliant young men and young women in Zimbabwe. Put them in a room and say letâ€™s put together ten strategies, which we can use to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, they would be petrified! They would be so scared! First of all they will say; â€œAre you sure there are no cameras and microphones here where we could be heard and so forth.â€
They are petrified of the regime! The regime system of intimidation and torture and harassment has actually worked to the regimeâ€™s advantage but to the disadvantage of the nation because the regime essentially gets away with whatever it decides to do. All the way from Gukurahundi to Murambatsvina and to now this ridiculous Operation Lower Prices and so forth. The regime is having everything its way while the nation is essentially collapsing.
Violet: Now Edison Zvobgo once said that Mugabe is a mental case and called him the madman from ngoma huru who is still running in the bushes. Is what is happening in Zimbabwe something that a normal person would do?
Dr. Makumbe: No.
Violet: What is really happening to Robert Mugabe?
Dr. Makumbe: No Robert Mugabe is impervious to reason. He has no faculties that function normally at all. A normal person would look at the hardships that Zimbabweans are facing today and feel guilty and feel responsible and feel that it is probably time to hand over the baton to somebody else younger, more intelligent. Somebody more popular, more acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe, more acceptable to the international community but Robert Mugabe doesnâ€™t actually have the mental capacity to think like that. I donâ€™t think his grey-matter still exists within his head. I think he is senile basically now. Senile and deranged. I think he even suffers from worst things than we can mention on radio now. Just like Jocelyn Chiwenga. When you listen to that woman talking you actually understand â€“ while you are 8 to 10 000 kilometres away from Zimbabwe â€“ you can hear you are talking to a deranged woman. Somebody who is actually sick and it is well known that Jocelyn is sick. Those who saw her on television when she appeared confirmed that she is sick. All the signs are there. She may have gone through a â€œred robotâ€ or they would even say in Zimbabwe â€œshe is in the departure loungeâ€ and I believe that. People in that condition tend to be very difficult to work with or to have a conversation with.
Violet: And Dr. Makumbe, you know, Chenjerai Hunzvi was a ruling party official who led a violent campaign that led to the seizure of commercial farms in 2000. He was known to be brutal and some say he enjoyed the violence and physical pain he inflicted on those who crossed his path. Now his death a year later was attributed to malaria but some reports say he died of AIDS. There are some who attribute his irrational behaviour to his illness and there has been some discussion about the link between the two. But others say the bottom line is that these are people who simply feel they own the country and are not answerable to anyone. Essentially they are thugs. Do you see more of this irrational behavior in government?
Dr. Makumbe: Well we are seeing a lot of this not so much in the government but at least in Jocelyn Chiwenga who is not anything to do with government. But where we are seeing that in government is with people like Augustine Chihuri who is part and parcel of the task force on the lowering of prices or price controls. He largely dictates a lot of things in the task force. And when he speaks as the commissioner of the police no other individuals contest that, including ( Industry and Trade Minister) Obert Mpofu himself. Obert Mpofu is petrified of Augustine Chihuri! And I know that it was Augustine Chihuri who mooted the issue of banning fuel coupons and no one in the taskforce â€“ at that particular meeting – dared to challenge him. And as you know the government later reversed this decision or rescinded the decision including the decision also to ban food imports.
So you have these maniacs running the government and they are not just maniacs – they are also sick. In between sessions of these meetings they are busy pouring ARVS and drinking tablets and you expect them to be normal â€“ normal enough to run a complex economy like Zimbabwe? It just doesnâ€™t happen.
Violet: So Dr Makumbe is this now an issue that requires some sort of psychiatric examination?
Dr. Makumbe: I think so. I think the whole lot. If the government leaders now in the cabinet, in the various commissions â€“ you know thank God (Sekesai) Makwavarara is no longer a Commissioner of Harare â€“ and if they were to go through psychiatry tests none of them would pass! We would end up without a cabinet, a government or commissioners. They would all fail because they are literally borderline maniacs. They are really operating largely in the manic depression areas of their insanity, I would say.
Violet: And with what we have been seeing in the last few years concerning Robert Mugabe â€“ you know the regional leaders have been trying to get the political parties together, to negotiate. Now is Mugabe the kind of person that you can actually sit with and engage with seriously now or itâ€™s just a waste of time trying to negotiate with him?
Dr. Makumbe: It is a waste of time and Thabo Mbeki is only discovering that now because out of three meetings conducted or held â€“ convened by South Africa â€“ ZANU PF elements missed two and the MDC guys turned up. But in those two which the ZANU PF elements didnâ€™t show up nothing, no business occurred and Thabo Mbeki is actually embarrassed now because he has to give a report to the SADC on progress and he will definitely lie and say; â€œWe have made good progress and the parties are talking to each other and they have agreed on an agenda blah blah blah.â€
When Robert Mugabe opened parliament last week he didnâ€™t mention one syllable to do with the mediation by Thabo Mbeki or the SADC region! That shows you how scornful he is of the whole process and he doesnâ€™t even look at the mediation process by SADC or Thabo Mbeki as necessary for the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe. He is very likely to say; â€œThere is no crisis in Zimbabwe, we are dealing with the malcontents, we are bring about socialism blah blah blah. We have a Look East Policy.â€ Literally every sector is collapsing and he actually behaves like nothing is happening. That can only happen to a person who is living in cloud cuckoo land. Who has no relation to reality and that is Robert Mugabe.
Violet: So what is the way forward? Itâ€™s now sounding like a clichÃ© but itâ€™s not enough â€“ you said earlier Zimbabweans are cowards – but itâ€™s not enough to say that. Clearly something has to be done but what is it? You have more than 3 000 people flocking to South Africa daily. There are serious food shortages. There is no fuel, power cuts, water cuts. What is the way forward? What can people seriously do to resolve the situation?
Dr. Makumbe: I think those among the people who are still in Zimbabwe, who are in NGOs, who are in Save Zimbabwe Campaign, who are in MDC â€“ both factions of the MDC â€“ should again come together and say we have to pay a price to free this country from ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe. And to do that some of us will have to be locked up, tortured even killed and we agree that, that would be necessary. So from today we shall be on the streets. We shall march peacefully but we will face the wrath of the police, the CIO, the army and so forth. And they will have to commit themselves to go on until the resolution of the crisis. Until Robert Mugabe is removed from power. Without that commitment, Violet, the situation will continue to deteriorate and eventually it shall deteriorate in such a way that the ordinary person who is unorganised, who is very hungry, very angry may take the law into their own hands and they may do a Somali in Zimbabwe. And as you know Violet in Somalia they did it so powerfully â€“ when they overthrew Siad Barre â€“ that they destroyed the State and if we do that in Zimbabwe we all lose. When you destroy the State you are in trouble because the State is one of the most difficult things to rebuild.
Violet Gonda: And the discussion with Dr. Makumbe concludes next week when he will give us his thoughts on the army in Zimbabwe. How strong a hold has Mugabe got of the security forces? Is there a likelihood for a coup? Dr Makumbe will also talk about the rigging of elections in Zimbabwe, which he says goes far beyond tampering with the votersâ€™ roll.
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