HARARE – Harry Peter Wilson, now in his second bid to become the president of Zimbabwe, says he is “in it to make a big statement”.
Sporting a hairstyle that reminds one of the 1980s look of musician Billy Ocean and dressed in a blue suit, the 62-year-old says he is “presidential material”.
Wilson leads one of the fringe political outfits called the Democratic Official Party (DOP).
At the 2018 polls, he won 4 895 votes, which translated to 0.10% of the electorate.
He got a chance to sit at the decision-making table when he joined the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), a grouping of 17 of the 23 political parties that contested the 2018 presidential poll.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa formed POLAD to ostensibly promote dialogue for nation-building.
But Nelson Chamisa who led the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC Alliance), refused to join POLAD because he disputed Mnangagwa’s victory and rejected any form of dialogue with him.
For some, Wilson was a chancer, and POLAD a big payday. Members were given twin-cab vehicles, allowances and diplomatic passports.
Others also pushed for farm allocations as POLAD members.
Looking back, Wilson believes POLAD did the best it could to advise Mnangagwa, and offer a different and frank alternative outside the ruling Zanu-PF party.
“We told him that the economy was bad and how we could have a strong local currency. He listened to us here and there, but at times he didn’t,” he said.
That’s why Wilson believes Zimbabwe’s politics is fractured.
He said: “A ‘winner takes all’ attitude is bad for the country. We are in the race to represent people. From one with 2% or any other percentage of the vote, he or she is representing the masses. That’s why Zimbabwe needs a government of national unity (GNU) to move forward.”
Wilson said that if he won the election, he would form a GNU, adding that whoever wins should do the same.
“There are many issues affecting us as a nation. For example, if you look at my manifesto, I talk a lot about a fair taxation system. I haven’t heard anyone in the race talk about that. I also talk about building safer communities. I haven’t heard that from anyone… My brother, I have a vision for this country.
“A leader with such promises speaks to the people. Why not work with them?”
This time he said he would shock his rivals because people had seen what his party was made of.
‘A serious alternative’
“CCC has been around for more than 23 years, as the MDC, and what have they done? I can tell you- nothing to push for real change. As for Zanu-PF, more than 40 years of failure is too much. That’s why people like us with fresh ideas are coming forward to say: ‘Why not try it this way?’
“People are actually taking us as a serious alternative.”
Wilson conceded that, at times the government had made good decisions, but that execution was bad.
“The land reform, for example, was a master stroke, but the rollout of the policy was bad. That was a turning point in time for us to take charge of our land, but it was corrupted. You don’t need such people to be in charge of the country entirely.”
He said he had lived in numerous European countries, like Germany and the UK, and that politics there was progressive because it spoke to the people’s needs at local and national levels.
“I will be preaching that message starting next week when I go on my nationwide rallies and meet-the-people sessions. I want people to understand that politics is first and foremost local.,” he said.
“The delays in the transport system, bad service delivery by local authorities and crime in one’s neighbourhood are what people face before they go out there. We as a party want to look at their issues from the bottom to the top not the other way round.”
When asked by News24 about other leaders in his party, particularly his deputy president, he said: “That’s a story for another day.”
Later on, he added: “Robert Chapman could fit the bill. I would be happy to work with him or anyone who thinks like him.”
Chapman leads the Democratic Union of Zimbabwe (DUZ). He came on the scene just over a year ago, promising a new blend of politics.
However, he didn’t file his nomination papers.
This year’s presidential election will have 11 candidates, down from 23 in 2018.
There won’t be a woman in the race.
Two women – Linda Masarira of the Labour, Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) and Elisabeth Valerio of the United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) – who intended taking part are among the candidates who failed to raise the U$20 000 (about R376 000) nomination fees.
There are four members of POLAD that managed to join the race. They are Wilson, Joseph Busha of the Free Zimbabwe Congress (FZC), Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), and Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC Alliance.
Source: New Zimbabwe