VOTO’s MDC GNU leaders’ petition to declare personal assets reaches James Maridadi
On 12 February 2009 (VOTO) Voices Of The Oppressed, an organization run by protest singer cum political activist Viomak, spearheaded a campaign that is seeking to have all MDC GNU leaders declare their personal assets in a bid to hold Zimbabwe leaders accountable as a way of monitoring corruption and achieving democracy.
Taking away from the magic words on prime minister Tsvangirai's website -"A new era of democratic and transparent leadership”,Viomak initiated the campaign saying MDC was willing to bring a new democratic and transparent leadership in Zimbabwe so the transparency should start with them.
"Now that ZANU PF and MDC have agreed to work together in a Government of National Unity it is now our turn as citizens of Zimbabwe to demand that all the MDC leaders in GNU tell us what personal assets they have." Viomak wrote.
Now her determination to have accountability in Zimbabwe’s government seems to be rolling on positively after Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi acknowledged in an email to her that he had received the petition. The email dated 19 May 2009 was his response to Viomak’s request to have all MDC GNU leaders declare their personal assets.
In the email to James Maridadi on 19 May 2009 Viomak wrote,
“Thank you very much for your time and co operation on the phone today. I really appreciate it. I am representing VOTO (Voices Of The Oppressed).As partly discussed on the phone we are kindly asking that you bring to the attention of Honorable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Honorable deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, the contents of the petition below which is also found at petitiononline.We are compiling a list of all the leaders concerned which we will kindly ask you to hand over to Prime Minister Tsvangirai for circulation, whilst you are bringing the issue to their attention . I am kindly waiting to hear from you and thank you once again for your time. We do have hope that together we can do the right thing and move forward in the right way for the benefit of our country.”
On the same day James Maridadi responded thus,
“Hi .I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. Thanks”
Many questions come to mind when faced with such a development. Could this be a new beginning in Zimbabwe where leaders will declare their personal assets for the public to know or did James Maridadi acknowledge that he had received the petition just for the sake of it and will not act on it until the heavens fall? In case MDC leaders declare their personal assets will ZANU PF follow suit and declare their personal assets too including what they stole? Time will tell.
Asked if she trusted that the petition will receive its deserved attention and that Maridadi will not sit on it Viomak said,
“I’m hoping that the Prime Minister will see the petition and act on it. It’s quite disturbing considering that the Prime Minister did not see a letter that was written by Gono to him, but I will not give up. The good thing though is that Mr Maridadi was very co operative, professional and helpful on the phone and if he lets the petition rot in his inbox I will also take a personal direction by asking the MDC provincial chairman for Manicaland, Patrick Chitaka who happens to be my late sister’s ‘husband’ to take the petition to its final destination. He too will have to declare his personal assets. ”
The petition in part reads,
“What many Zimbabweans are looking forward to is a new beginning yes, and a new Zimbabwe and this can only be achieved if the leaders are accountable. Democracy will be achieved if leaders are made to understand that they were voted into power to serve the people and not to serve their personal interests. Our parents failed to hold ZANU PF accountable and this gave birth to an extremely corrupt government. We will move forward and correct what our parents failed to do by asking our promising leaders the MDC to declare their personal assets so that we will not repeat the same mistake that happened when ZANU PF came into power. Now our honourable Prime Minister, Richard Morgan Tsvangirai ,and our honourable deputy Prime Minister Arthur, Guseni Mutambara as we welcome you to your posts ,we are demanding that you and all those in your government publicly declare all your personal assets . It is the citizens’ responsibility to demand that leaders declare their assets. Zimbabwe does not need another corrupt government. Your urgent co operation into this matter will be greatly appreciated. A new beginning, a new Zimbabwe.” Viomak wrote.
Before Viomak contacted James Maridadi she used various means of handing over the petition including writing to the deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. The email she wrote to him on 31 March 2009 remains unanswered up to today. Viomak has not received an email in her box either confirming that the postmaster had failed to deliver her email to the deputy Prime Minister.
“I’m very sure I used the correct email address to contact the deputy Prime Minister. I’m worried why he hasn’t replied the email and yet he knows very well that if good governance is to prevail there should be no holy cows” she said.
In pursuit of the issue, on 5 March 2009 Viomak registered on the Prime Minister’s website forum and posted the petition. During the same period she wrote an email to MDC-T information and publicity department and it has not been answered up to now. She then went on to contact the Prime Minister’s office through their website contact page and no response has been given as yet. An attempt to query what was going on through the Prime Minister’s website discussion forum were hampered after she realized that the administrator had disabled public writing access and couldn’t post on the forum anymore.
“I don’t want to think that someone is trying to silence our voices. That will be a very big mistake. MDC is for democracy and transparency and silencing our voices is undemocratic” she said.
Determined to have the petition’s concerns heard she made repeated phone calls to Prime Minister Tsvangirai‘s house which went unanswered. Viomak who believes that good leaders should try by all means to be always there for their citizens said she used to call the Prime Minister’s house before he was ordained by Mugabe and does not see why she shouldn’t call him now.
Viomak then phoned the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology,Nelson Chamisa and as usual she was told to call back after ten minutes .After being frustrated by Chamisa’s poor telephone ethics she managed to get hold of James Maridadi’s phone number who she immediately phoned and later wrote an email.
“I called Chamisa on several occasions and no matter what time it was he was about to attend a meeting or attending a meeting and said I should phone after ten minutes .It’s typical of him to say phone me after ten minutes before he hangs up the phone without even saying bye. He has very bad telephone manners and public relations. He seems to be in seventh heaven after he was awarded a free mercedes benz. He’s very unprofessional and I find it very rude that he doesn’t even ask how he can help someone who calls him. At least he should say he can’t help instead of lying that he is in a meeting or about to attend a meeting.” she said,
The petition is not doing it alone. Viomak has composed a song to accompany the petition. The petition song Chinja Maitiro is named after the MDC’s popular slogan. The instrumental of the song which I happened to listen to promises to bring up a great tune. Viomak confirmed that the lyrics are asking the MDC GNU leaders to shun the ZANU PF way of running the country .MDC should change the way in which public office is run by declaring their personal assets .The masses changed by voting for the MDC and now it is the MDC’s turn to change. Viomak is in the thick of it all finalizing the lyrics of the song which she will record anytime from now and is determined to continue with the campaign until the leaders agree to be transparent in reality. The protest singer whose music is banned in Zimbabwe is very hopeful that Chinja Maitiro will have its share on state radio since it is only but an ordinary song that is asking for transparency.
However the petition has seen some signatories suggesting that Zanu PF GNU leaders should also be asked to declare their personal assets. Viomak had this to say,
“Zimbabwe is looking for a new beginning and not an old beginning and that new beginning can only be achieved by employing achievable change tactics through the MDC who I think are reasonable enough to understand that transparency plays a very big role in building democratic societies .We don’t have to end up being empty vessels in our activism by engaging objectives that are meaningless and not achievable. I always bear in mind this question before embarking on activism. What is going to change?Zanu PF leaders are already corrupt and they stole already .To me Zanu PF is beyond repair and if they are to declare their stolen assets and avoid future thieving then let it be the MDC‘s job or someone else’s petition to chase them around”.
At this juncture on behalf of VOTO, Viomak and I would like to thank all those who signed the petition. We could be a small number but even one person can change the world for the better. VOTO also thanks Kubatana Net for bringing the petition’s request to those on their mailing list, not forgetting Viomak’s special contacts in Zimbabwe who made her contact with Maridadi possible. VOTO is now awaiting some feedback from James Maridadi, after which the activism will continue from there.
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