ZIMBABWE – THE MDC-T is often said to be broke, weaker, strategically bankrupt and in constant fighting. NewZimbabwe.com (NZ) chief reporter Nkosana Dlamini here speaks to party spokesperson Obert Gutu (OG) on these issues, including the party’s views on the proposed grand coalition.
NZ: 2016 has just started, what can we expect from MDC-T?
OG: In 2016, you are going to see a re-energized and re-invigorated MDC. We are going to work even harder on our party building programs throughout the 1958 wards in Zimbabwe, from the Zambezi to the Limpopo, from Tamandayi to Malipati. We have advanced plans to launch the MDC internet radio station as well as to set up the MDC free to air digital television station.
NZ: We hear the MDC-T is very broke and has been abandoned by its traditional Western sponsors along the way. Is that true and how will you finance your programmes?
OG: Are you not broke, yourself? Because of decades of Zanu misrule, mismanagement and rampant corruption, 90 percent of Zimbabweans are living in poverty. The fact of the matter is that the MDC is not broke. We have millions of supporters whose subscriptions keep the party going. Of course, just like any other organisation operating in Zimbabwe at the moment, we have our share of financial challenges. Even Zanu PF is reeling in serious debt. The government itself can’t even afford to pay civil servants their salaries on time because of the prevailing liquidity crunch.
NZ: 2015 saw the MDC-T persist with its poll boycott stance and from the look of it, Zanu PF has happily collected your seats seemingly unperturbed, do you think the strategy is working?
OG: Politics is dynamic. We always regularly review our strategies and policies to suit the prevailing environment. In politics, nothing is cast in stone. Our ‘without reforms, no elections ‘ resolution has forced the Zanu PF government to slowly give in to our demands for electoral reforms. Right now, ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is working on a five year strategic plan commencing this year and the MDC, together with all other political parties operating in Zimbabwe, has been engaged to give its views on this plan. We can assure the people of Zimbabwe that we are gearing ourselves to participate in the forthcoming elections provided that they are free and fair.
NZ: In 2015, you prompted the dismissal of your erstwhile colleagues, now operating under the name PDP, from parliament, against their pleas. As an afterthought, do you still think you were right?
OG: What we did was spot on. We have absolutely no regrets about recalling from Parliament the MPs who had left our party. They were elected into Parliament on the MDC ticket and of course, we would like to wish them luck in their new political home.
NZ: The 2014 split weakened the MDC-T in terms of numerical presence, how weak do you think you are now?
OG: We are very strong, alive and kicking. In fact, the MDC is the largest and most popular political party in Zimbabwe. We are the real deal, the only game in town.
NZ: Some say your being weak is best seen in Zanu PF’s courage to throw out many of its members accused of factionalism, telling themselves you are no longer a threat, your response?
OG: We have absolutely nothing to do with the crumbling Zanu PF party. Of course, we heartily welcome the demise of the Zanu PF dictatorship because it has caused so much suffering amongst the majority of Zimbabweans. God is answering our prayers. Zanu PF must fall.
NZ: Your big tent model of a pre-election merger has often been rejected by other parties as an attempt by Morgan Tsvangirai to stampede them into aiding his own presidential ambitions, your take?
OG: Morgan Tsvangirai has never forced anyone to endorse him as the Presidential candidate for the envisaged coalition. Unlike Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai is not obsessed by political power. He is more than willing to have Zimbabweans choose a President of their choice. He is not a Big Brother and of course, the Big Tent trajectory is not about patronising other political parties. Not at all. It is about sharing common values and ethos in trying to bring lasting peace, democracy and sustainable development to Zimbabwe.
NZ: You have made no secret of your desire to join forces with the Joice Mujuru led group of former Zanu PF politicians, some of whom could have wronged you in the past. Does this mean you have forgiven them?
OG: We don’t believe in the politics of revenge and retribution. The MDC is a social democratic political party that is also God fearing. As such, we are prepared to work with all Zimbabweans who want to build a peaceful, democratic and stable country. Those politicians who have wronged the people of Zimbabwe in the past should, of course, recant their past evil deeds and genuinely repent. Even in the Bible, Saul met his Damascan moment when he repented from being a murderer and he then assumed a new name, Paul.
NZ: Some say the envisaged grand coalition is a delicate, give and take affair. How much are you willing to give?
OG: At an appropriate moment in time, the people of Zimbabwe will decide what form of coalition they want. Joice Mujuru is yet to formally launch her political party. Why don’t we wait and see what will happen after she launches per party. We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse.
NZ: Do you see Tsvangirai giving up his desire to lead the coalition for someone like Mujuru when she finally comes up?
OG: Please don’t put the cart before the horse. Just be patient and see what will happen next.
NZ: Your party, so we hear, has been rocked by internal fissures in 2015 pitying Tsvangirai against Thokozani Khuphe; him again against Nelson Chamisa, how do you see things playing out in 2016?
OG: There are absolutely no internal fissures within the MDC. We only read about those fissures in the newspapers. The MDC is a united political party and our leader is the indefatigable and charismatic Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.
NZ: Some sceptics say you failed the litmus test when you began acting like Zanu PF during the inclusive government era, when party politicians started displaying gluttony for good life, what do you say to them?
OG: That’s a blue lie. Please don’t equalise us with Zanu PF. Zanu PF has degenerated into a Frankenstein monster over the decades. If anything, MDC ministers performed extremely well during the GNU era.
NZ: Since formation in 1999, the MDC-T has lost many civil society allies along the way, what went wrong and how do you intend to remedy this going forward?
OG: We have not lost our civil society allies. As I speak right now, the party is busy building bridges with its various civic society partners. The MDC is getting stronger and stronger and you will see for yourself when free and fair elections are held in the country. We will emerge the as the people of Zimbabwe’s favourite political party.