Maridadi is an equal citizen

The appointment of former MDC legislator for Mabvuku-Tafara, James Maridadi as one of the 15 ambassadors- designate, has torched a storm which, nonetheless, is much ado about nothing.

Sections110 (2) (i) 204 of the Constitution of the country simply stipulates that the President may appoint persons to be ambassadors or other principal representatives of Zimbabwe in other countries. It was in terms of this provision that President Mnangagwa appointed Maridadi. There is no provision in the constitution that requires the President to consider the appointee’s political affiliation. Unless he is not a person or Zimbabwean, the President did not err in appointing Maridadi.

Maridadi has been given all sorts of names, to an extent of being accused of being a Central Intelligence Organisation operative and a Zanu PF project. Of course labelling propaganda has of late become very trendy in the MDC, with anyone who expresses an independent mind attracting that tag. That party’s secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, for instance, is battling to shrug off the label stuck on him after he had shown interest in the party’s presidency.

The all-encompassing appointment of ambassadors reflects the statesmanship of the appointer who is not lost to the fact that he is a president of all citizens in the country regardless of their political persuasions. After he took up the reins of Government in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa underlined the need for unity that goes beyond political divides.

“I intend…am required, to serve our country as the President of all citizens, regardless of colour, creed, religion, tribe or political affiliation,” said the President in his inauguration speech.

The President has been beseeching Zimbabweans to work together for a Zimbabwe we all want. The Zimbabwe we want is a shared one and transcends political party line. He has been making good his promise of working with all Zimbabweans. However, that effort has been frustrated and spurned in some circles.

In his quest for inclusive government, the President indicated that Government was to establish the position of leader of opposition in Parliament in accordance with Commonwealth tradition. The MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa was set to be the first occupant of that office. He, however, rushed to reject the offer as if it was specifically designed for him.

The appointment of Maridadi is just but a fulfilment of his inauguration pledges. The President is walking the talk. It was in this spirit that he retained the late Trudy Stevenson as the country’s representative in Senegal despite the late envoy being an MDC senior official. It is in the same spirit that Hilda Mufudze, an MDC official seconded during the GNU as ambassador to Sudan, was never recalled.

Therefore, the appointment of Maridadi falls within the deliberate governance path that the new dispensation set to follow. As a President of all Zimbabweans, he has the leeway to headhunt individuals who can assist him to make a Zimbabwe that everybody is craving for. It so happened that in MDC Alliance, he saw that competence in Maridadi.

During the previous dispensation, former president, Robert Mugabe showered praises on Nelson Chamisa, describing him as a “supersonic minister.”  It was after the then youthful minister of Information Communication Technology, launched the e–government computer programme in 2011. That did not mean he was a Zanu PF project or a CIO operative. Acknowledging competence in people despite ideological differences is one of the rare attributes of good leadership.

Those who are questioning Maridadi’s appointment might be motivated by jealous. After throwing him into political doldrums, Maridadi, like a phoenix, suddenly holds the most esteemed position. He will be the only opposition member to enjoy the presidential title-His Excellency. He will be the face of Zimbabwe in the host country. In other words, he will be president of Zimbabwe in that country.

Sources say that some MDC officials who had been earmarked for some government positions were threatened with expulsion. It should cross the mind of the opposition leaders that some government appointments such as ambassadorial, have nothing to do with political parties.

The President also made similar appointments previously and those appointments never attracted such a hullabaloo. Kirsty Coventry was appointed a full minister but nobody complained. Minister Winston Chitando was also appointed minister of Mines and Mining Development. These and a few others were not in possession of Zanu PF party cards. The President can appoint anyone from anywhere as long as that appointee has merits for the job.

The Presidential Advisory Council comprises of members who are not Zanu PF and some of them are even notorious government critics. President Mnangagwa is trying to involve everyone in the rebuilding of this country after some decades of isolation.

Maridadi is very suitable for the job. The exuberance he exhibited in parliamentary debates can be channelled towards nation building. He should sell the Zimbabwean story with the vigour he displayed in Parliament.