The Coalition of Democrats (Code) presidential candidate, Elton Mangoma (EM), has said he will fix the country’s economy within the next three years if he wins the presidential election on July 30.
Mangoma is among the 23 candidates vying for the presidential seat. Our reporter Charity Ruzvidzo (CR) caught up with him in a bid to understand what he has to offer Zimbabweans that other candidates lack and his general perception on the prevailing political environment.
CR – How far has Code gone with preparations for the upcoming election.
EM - We’re as prepared as we can be, we have campaigning going on and we are trying as much as we can to mobilise people. Code has the solutions to solve Zimbabweans problems. The problems come into two broad categories, one is economic and the other one is polarisation which essentially is about lack of cohesion. Code is the only coalition that knows how to resolve these problems going forward.
CR - What is Code is offering the people of Zimbabwe that other political parties are not?
EM - Code is offering solutions to the Zimbabwean problems. It is offering change in the direction in which Zimbabwe is going. It is not about merely changing the personnel to say if we come in we will do things better than those who were there. We are saying we are going in this direction and we need to go in that direction. We want to be more democratic, more tolerant, inclusive and to build this nation to avoid polarisation.
We want people who committed crimes in the past to be able to work with the victims. The victims and perpetrators must work together and we must provide reparation for the victims. We need to be able to create a nation where everyone thinks they are part of it without respect to gender, tribe and religion.
CR - What is your view on the prevailing political landscape compared to previous years during elections?
EM - We are a polarised country, what we see is that it is a lot peaceful but when it is peaceful it doesn’t necessarily mean the election will be free and fair. We do not want to equate peace with free and fair. Peace is a necessary ingredient for free and fair elections, but we have other things to consider.
The way the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is behaving is actually a potential source of conflict which can cause real conflict.
CR - How is ZEC behaving?
EM - The voters roll and the printing of the ballot paper. They asked us to come and witness the printing of the ballot paper and they showed us a blank paper without showing us how the names will be arranged on it.
We have also been asking for a hard copy of the voters roll because we are already aware that they have more than one version of the voters roll. We know that they are playing with us and that they intend to have massive people who have registered to fail to vote. Unless we get the manual one which cannot be changed we are not satisfied. As it is, we are going into this election knowing it is not a free and fair election.
CR - What do you think should be done?
EM – ZEC should be more transparent to win the trust of stakeholders. They need to consider our requests so that we can be on the same page.
CR - What do you think about the violence that took place in Bulawayo?
EM - We don’t condone that behaviour, it is not good to use violence. We also know that no ordinary person is able to get into a shop and purchase a grenade or bomb. This is something that is done by people who are trained and we are very unhappy about it. We condemn this terrible act.
CR - Some of your supporters would think that it was natural for you to join the MDC Alliance. What are the differences that you have with the Alliance?
EM - Code was the first coalition, the agreement was signed in May 2016 and the MDC Alliance only signed its agreement last year in August. It is the MDC Alliance that you should be asking about not joining Code.
CR - Would it have been possible for them to join Code?
EM - It would have been possible because Code is open-ended. We believe in working with everyone but we want to work with people who have principles, not those who want to rule for the purposes of power. We want to solve Zimbabwean problems and not install another dictator. The differences between the MDC Alliance and Code are that they are power driven and we are values and principles driven.
We also think that the power of the president is too much, the constitution is creating a constitutional dictator, let us be conscious that this excessive power of the president is causing problems in the country. There is need to create an accountable president going forward. We must be able to leave room for institutions like ZEC and the Anti-Corruption Commission to work independently because they have been weakened by these very strong presidents in the past.
CR - What do you think are your chances of winning this election?
EM - It is up to the voters, if they are convinced that voting for us is the right way to go, then we will win. We are there to offer Zimbabweans an opportunity to have a country they will enjoy. The reason why we are participating is because we think we have a chance. Ultimately, it is up to the people to decide.
We also believe as Code we are the best to sort out this economy, the others can’t , ZANU-PF has failed and MDC-Alliance has also failed to run the councils. We want people to know that we will solve their problems.
CR - If you win, what is your plan for the first 100 days in office.
EM - Our thrust is on nation building, we want to inculcate in our people a mindset of working together to build the nation. We will have a programme for women, youths and the disabled. We want to make sure they have support and access to capital. We will also offer training so that they can enhance their skills.
We will also address the issue of the informal economy, our ethos is that we start with what we have, we have vendors and the artisanal miners, local businesses and parastatals. We want to make sure that these work very well. We want to make sure that the support we have goes to them first before we start looking at the outsiders. We have land and we will give everyone titles to land. We are going to have a cabinet that will be able to perform, it won’t be a reward for loyalty but it is about involving all Zimbabweans with the capacities to us forward.
In terms of the economy, we are the only ones with a viable plan of how it should be revived. The money problem for instance has been caused by the indiscipline of ZANU-PF , they have been printing treasury bills. There is need to stop the printing out of treasury bills to sort out the money problems.
ZANU-PF says Zimbabwe will be a middle class economy by 2030. Instead of depending on foreign direct investments to fix the economy we will use what we already have in the country to fix the economy within the next three years.
CR - If you loses the election, will you accept?
EM - The environment is not free and fair. If they give us everything that we are requesting, then why would we not accept the wishes of the people? ZEC and government must assist us in the creation of a free and fair environment so that people can express themselves.