Southern Africa’s former liberation movements recently met in Luanda, Angola, to discuss various challenges being faced in their individual countries. Topical on the agenda was the issue of impending elections in Mozambique and Angola. Our Senior Writer Lovemore Ranga Mataire (LRM) spoke to the ZANU-PF secretary for administration Dr Ignatius Chombo (IC) for an in-depth briefing on other issues that were discussed at the meeting.
L.R.M: Cde Chombo, I understand you recently attended a meeting of former liberation movements in Luanda, Angola. Can you briefly tell us the agenda of the meeting?
I.C: This meeting in Angola was a follow up meeting to the one we held last year in Victoria Falls. The meeting of the secretaries-general of the former liberation movements in the southern Africa region was aimed at discussing critical issues that are affecting the former liberation movements as ruling parties. The issues relate to the role that NGOs have taken in order to effect regime change within the region. We see that in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania, everywhere.
They are trying to find avenues in which these former liberation movements, because of their strong ideological pan-African stance, the Westerners feel that they should be removed. And they are using their non-governmental organisations to fund pseudo-democratic upshots as alternatives.
We were also looking at avenues in which as former liberation movements, we can assist each other to win general elections if and when they are held, to share ideas and intelligence so that the former liberation movements can remain in power.
This regime change programme is also being implemented by the Westerners critically because the SADC region, when you look at it from South Africa to central Africa, enjoys two oceans and has unlimited resources available to us which makes this region richer than America or Europe. So by destabilizing the region, they continue to take raw materials from us and sell to us expensive finished products. So that is part of their strategic plan which we must make sure must not be allowed to succeed.
We were also meeting to discuss ways in which we can use the mushrooming social media phenomenon to our advantage because the enemy is also using social media. So we were discussing strategies to use social media to advance the cause of our countries. And also we were discussing ways in which former liberation movements can acquire financial and other resources in order for them to continue to exist and to sustain themselves and not depend on donors or well-wishers who come and go as they wish.
Women and youths representatives also attended the meeting, including war veterans. They discussed various issues of concern, the social media, employment etc.
L.R.M: Which specific parties were represented at the meeting?
I.C: All of them were represented. MPLA as the host was there, Swapo of Namibia, ANC of South Africa, Frelimo of Mozambique, Chama Cha Mapinduzi from Tanzania and ZANU-PF from Zimbabwe. And the women’s leagues were also represented by heads or deputies representatives, including youths. War veterans from Zimbabwe were represented by Brigadier Tapfumaneyi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of War Veterans.
L.R.M: You have mentioned that you discussed strategies of safeguarding liberation movements and how to remain in power. You are aware that Angola and Mozambique will be holding elections this year while Zimbabwe will be having elections next year. Are there any specific issues you discussed regarding these impending elections?
I.C: I can’t give you the specific details but yes we discussed issues regarding the coming elections. From the look of things MPLA is going to be retained in power, Frelimo is going to be retained in power, and ZANU-PF will also romp to victory come 2018.
L.R.M: But you would agree that former liberation movements are facing similar challenges and some of these challenges have to do with the diminishing numbers in terms of voters. What are you doing as ruling parties to ensure that you continue enjoying overwhelming support?
I.C: The former liberation movements are not necessarily getting dwindling numbers in terms of their votes. These are up and down depending on the situation in those particular countries but when all is said and done the former liberation movements are consolidating their power, marketing their programmes and positions and it takes time for the message to sink particularly among the young ones. It is thus the duty of former liberation movements to approach these youths and give them ideological position so that they understand where we are coming from and why we are making the decisions we are making. I think they need to understand their history.
In Zimbabwe, we have already started the process; the Chitepo Ideological School is now in operation with all the MPs having passed through it and are beginning to appreciate why we take certain decisions.
Frelimo is doing the same, MPLA is doing the same, Chama Cha Mapinduzi is doing the same and ANC in South Africa is doing the same. We even have party members from Zimbabwe attending a course in South Africa as we speak and in October the former liberation movements are going to attend a groundbreaking ceremony where an Ideological School is going to be built to accommodate about 300 trainees at any given time so that we have a place where ideological positions are taught. So I think we are making significant inroads and you see that in the last elections, ZANU-PF won by a bigger margin. This is proof that we are making inroads and beginning to be understood and we are listening to the wishes of the people and incorporating these in our policies. The same thing is with ANC in South Africa and if they continue on this path the margin will be even much higher.
L.R.M: You mentioned about the groundbreaking ceremony for an Ideological School in Tanzania, what had delayed the construction of this school because I understand it had been on the cards for a quite some time?
I.C: It is the usual bureaucracy, you get to go through the process and make sure that you have proper agreement and sufficient resources so that once the school starts we won’t have to face constant operational challenges.
L.R.M: What is the latest regarding the Botswana Democratic Party’s application for admission into the Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa (FMSA)?
I.C: We had colleagues from Botswana Democratic Party submitting their application and we are taking this application to our principals or heads of our parties. So when our principals meet, I am sure they will be able to make a decision about the application.
L.R.M: You have mentioned the critical need for the use of social media as a tool to disseminate information. But are you not concerned that the same social media can be manipulated or abused to settle personal political scores and in turn create disharmony among party cadres?
I.C: The social media is here to stay and is a tool that other individuals can abuse. It is our duty as former liberation movements to ensure that the social media is not abused. Not just by our own members but anybody, there must be rules and regulations that control the use of social media. You can’t just use social media to insult other people, spread falsehoods, rumours and so forth. The members of our own party who abuse social media, who abuse social media for whatever reasons must also be dealt with accordingly.
L.R.M: You have mentioned the issue of social media as a tool to disseminate information but also to connect with the youths who are now the majority voters. But what other efforts are you undertaking to ensure that the youths feel being part and parcel of the general governance of the country?
I.C: There are three things. First, we need to recruit them into our fold.
The second thing is that we need to give them the training which is relevant so that they can understand and appreciate their history so that they can be leaders tomorrow. The third thing is that we are bringing them into the administrative and managerial ranks within the party and government so that they are exposed and we reduce the generation gap. And these measures are being implemented by all former liberation movements of the party and they will soon bear fruits.
L.R.M: What are you doing to ensure that genuine non-governmental organisations are operational and not those you said are conduits for regime change? How do you distinguish between the two?
I.C: The non-governmental organisations, faith based organisations and similar organisations with different nomenclatures that the Westerners are bringing in are entities that are not in our interests and so as such we are taking strict measures to make sure ensure that these NGOs are properly regulated, they follow normal registration procedures and their activities are monitored and implemented according to the wishes and dictates of the countries that they are operating in. Their budgets must be transparent and known and where the money is going to be channeled.
I will give you an example of Bikita where a certain white man was involved in digging wells for villagers. But 10 percent of the budget was for civic education and during those civic lessons that is when MDC slogans were invented and we got to know about it much later.
These NGOs took advantage of lack of monitoring and our need for water. It cannot take a white man from northern England or northern parts of Texas to come and dig wells or supply matemba kwaChivi. So I think we need to be smarter when dealing with NGOs.
L.R.M: Lastly, when is the next meeting for former liberations movements?
I.C: I think we are meeting in August in Namibia.