EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | ‘2023 should be a year Zimbabweans fix their mistakes,’ says ZimFirst leader

Cape Town – As Zimbabwe prepares for its general elections in 2023, many are calling for the amendment of electoral laws so that all parties have a fair chance of winning at the polls. Currently, the political and electoral playing field remains deeply uneven and stacked in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF party. African Insider Editor, Betha Madhomu spoke to... Read more → The post EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | ‘2023 should be a year Zimbabweans fix their mistakes,’ says ZimFirst leader appeared first on African Insider.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | ‘2023 should be a year Zimbabweans fix their mistakes,’ says ZimFirst leader

Cape Town – As Zimbabwe prepares for its general elections in 2023, many are calling for the amendment of electoral laws so that all parties have a fair chance of winning at the polls.

Currently, the political and electoral playing field remains deeply uneven and stacked in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

African Insider Editor, Betha Madhomu spoke to the president of the Zimbabwe People First (ZimFrst) Party, Dr Maxwell Zeb Shumba Rusike, who shared his views on the country’s upcoming elections.

Who is Dr Shumba? What does he stand for and how long has he been in politics?

Dr Shumba: Dr Maxwell Zeb Shumba Rusike was born in Murehwa and belongs to the Moyo Wadyegora Chiradu Rusike clan. Got his first degree as a Chemistry Teacher in Cuba and went on to do other Masters degrees in the US and a PhD in Chemistry. He is a well-experienced Regulatory Compliance and Product Stewardship professional.

Currently, he is Global Regulatory Strategy Director with a US-based global Chemical company.

Politically he is a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), coming from the civil society organisation NCA, the founding chairperson of MDC North America, founding chairperson of MDC USA, MDC Chief Political Strategist(2014-15) Strategist, and Chief Advisor to the late MDC President (2013-2015).

I am the founding and principal co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe People First/Zimbabwe First National Convergence. I became the founding president of Zimbabwe People First (Zimfirst) Party. I am happily married with four children – one boy and three girls.

I believe Zimbabwe can be an economic giant and that is the driving force behind my political activism despite the fact that l have a settled professional life. I believe in untainted, clean and fresh leadership and that is what my candidacy represents.

So in a nutshell, tell us about Zimbabwe People First (ZimFirst) Party

Dr Shumba: ZimFirst Party was founded on April 10, 2015, and officially launched in Murehwa Zihundi (Chihowa) Village on September 26 of the same year. ZimFirst was founded as a National Convergence platform that sought to unite all democratic forces, with a proposal to have the late Morgan Tsvangirai and former Zimbabwe VP Joyce Mujuru acting as Elders.

Efforts to hold the Convergence convention collapsed and ZimFirst became a fully-fledged political party under the name Zimbabwe People First, a name, which, unfortunately, a year later was to be arrogantly and opportunistically used by Joyce Mujuru to launch her renegade outfit.

Zimfirst had to threaten Mujuru with court action to successfully reclaim the name, as she later dropped it.

The party was founded on principles of accountability, honesty, and unity. It boasts of a leadership, under myself, that is clean, untainted and fresh. It is a ‘People First’ party, meaning it believes in making national resources benefit the masses through technology-driven programmes that drive economic and societal development.

What was the reason behind its formations? 

Dr Shumba: The situation in Zimbabwe calls for a new approach to opposition politics. A Diaspora-driven party gives a fresh perspective on how to tackle economic and societal ills. This fresh approach brings together Diasporans, Friends of Zimbabwe well-wishers under the Zimbabwe Global Coalition and locally-based Zimbabweans from all walks of life.

Zimbabwe is in dire need of a selfless leader who has a heart for the people, has global technical experience and expertise to appreciate the depth of the country’s challenges.

Zimbabwe needs a mature leader who is very honest with the people.

Can you please take us through the structures within your party

Dr Shumba: ZimFirst has three structures that constitutionally exist:

Firstly, we have grassroots structures with local leadership under. The leadership of the National Chairperson. (We also have external structures at different stages of growth)

Secondly, we have the presidency with the campaign team led by directors for respective campaign needs.

Thirdly, we have the government in waiting, which is tasked with putting together the structure and policies of a future ZimFirst Government.

These are staffed by technical leaders of diverse expertise. We are heavily recruiting Zimbabwean technocrats to come and be part of this vision. We have a Government Advisory Board that is led by a Fintech guru (because our aim is to develop Zimbabwe into a first-world economic giant (very possible) propelled by Fintech , agronomy and industrial tech tools.

All these structures benefit from a benevolent support from friends of Zimbabwe from across the globe who are coming together under the banner of Zimbabwe Global Coalition (ZGC). As ZimFirst, we do not want to give empty promises. We mean what we say and we say what we mean. The ZGC is constituted by citizens of the World with various skills set but all have one thing in common: a passion for an economically developed democratic Zimbabwe. The GGC will provide critical support, as it will provide an international backing voice on our push for electoral reforms and also act as a platform to exchange ideas on the best foot forward for the economic development of Zimbabwe.

You mention a Zimbabwe Global Coalition. How big is it and where is it based?

Dr Shumba: The Global Zimbabwe Coalition is moulded in the same vein as the 80’s Global Anti- Aphartheid movement for South Africa that became a global force that brought down the aphartheid system in SA.

The ZGC is a goodwill entity that will not interfere with Zimbabwe internal politics but act as an international safeguard and a goodwill force for Zimbabweans as it brings together like-minded citizens of the world, Zimbabweans and non Zimbabweans alike.

You said you want the coalition to be the voice that will help push for electoral reforms in preparation for Zimbabwe’s economic transformation? How are you going to achieve this?

Dr Shumba: We are going to leverage existing social media and traditional media houses to keep Zimbabwe’s cause for free elections topical on a daily basis. We will also introduce new tools to inspire confidence in the beaten down electorate.

How is ZimFirst going to succeed in this, particularly looking at how several political parties and organisations have tried to do the same in the past but failed?

Dr Shumba: Just watch this space. I will not say much. We launched our 2023 Roadmap under our Silent Revolution (#Chimhukutira/#UmtshetshaPhansi ) in 2019 and we are well on track. I will not share much now but those keen to know more can send us a message via our Facebook page Zimbabwe First ZimFirst.

What can you say about the political situation in Zimbabwe right now? What do you think about the upcoming elections – if at all they are going to be held?

Dr Shumba: The political situation in Zimbabwe has not changed since the 80’s. Zanu-PF feels entitled to rule Zimbabwe and anyone who opposes them – right or wrong – is viewed as an enemy and dealt with a heavy hand. This is the backdrop we go into the 2023 elections.

Zanu-PF deploys its state machinery to run the elections, monitor political activities through its Police Internal Security and Investigation (PISI) and the CIO, Registrar General where they manufacture fake IDs for ghost voters and rural intimidation.

All these are compounded by the fact that the president of Zimbabwe running as a candidate is in charge of the people who run elections. A lot of work needs to be done and we will be up to the challenge because we have resolution and determination to deliver change for Zimbabwe.

What is the biggest thing that needs to change in Zimbabwe right now that would make people live a better life?

Dr Shumba: Zimbabweans need to change their mindset. None but Zimbabweans can free Zimbabweans. 2023 should be a year Zimbabweans fix their mistakes.

Change for the sake of change will bear the same result.

Zimbabweans need to critically examine candidates and support a candidate with capacity to bring substantive change. It is time to understand that rallies and good rallies do not bring change. A party with a strategy will bring change and that is ZimFirst.

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