ITV: Sibusiso Moyo, Foreign minister, Zimbabwe
TAR: One of your colleagues has described the upcoming elections as a foreign policy tool. What are the political implications of that view?
Sibusiso Moyo: That question implies that we need to hold elections to satisfy others. That is not the case. They are an opportunity for our people to choose how they wish to be governed and the direction they wish their country to take, […] to choose between competing visions of different political organisations. As the party in government, we are presenting at least a credible domestic and foreign policy to the electorate.
On what criteria do you want these elections to be judged?
The most important issue is to satisfy the people of Zimbabwe. As you have seen, all parties are able to campaign freely and they are able to gather freely without disturbance. […] In previous elections the area of contestation had been the voters’ roll. And the introduction of the biometric voter registration system […][should] eliminate that area of contestation.
The printing of the ballot papers, all these procedural aspects are being handled by the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. That is a constitutional body mandated to run elections effectively and to be in compliance with the law. I would say that the ability of the people to express their will freely is the other part. There’s not been any inter-party conflicts or violence at all. A third point is that the parties must campaign freely. Then, finally, these elections must be done in terms of the Zimbabwean constitution. So, to us, those are the measures that mean elections are credible.
Some ruling party politicians have recently said the military would never hand over to an opposition party. As a general, do you think the Defence Force Commander Philip Sibanda should come out publicly to contradict this?
The President has said that the will of the people shall prevail and that in the unlikely event of him being voted out he will step down. We have heard the vice-president [General Constantino Chiwenga] saying the same. […] I hear you when you say it could be helpful for the Commander of the Defence Forces to give a statement, but what we’re trying to do is also to disentangle the military from even having any role in these elections. A lot of observers who have come through to observe the pre-election period have had the opportunity to go and meet the Commander of the Defence Forces, who categorically told them we’re going to respect the will of the people.
There has been unprecedented political change in Southern Africa over the past year. What lessons do you draw from that?
What is encouraging is that change is happening within the liberation parties themselves. They’re renewing themselves and adapting to the changed conditions. Like we saw in Zimbabwe, lack of change in leadership can lead to atrophy both at the level of the party and the country. All countries and indeed parties need constant introspection and renewal, we believe. I would like to say that it is important to unlearn the mistakes that we have learned. And it is encouraging to see this process occurring across Southern Africa.
This article first appeared in the June 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine