ZIMBABWE – Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC is often regarded as a small political party with less stamina to withstand tough competition in the country’s political arena. NewZimbabwe.com’s (NZ) chief correspondent, Nkosana Dlamini caught up with party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi (KC) to understand the party’s plans for 2018, thoughts about a grand coalition and related issues. Below are excerpts of the interview;
NZ: What is MDC planning for 2016?
KC: This is the year that will give indications on the direction of the country; we are looking forward to holding our fourth congress in 2016. This is again the year when unfinished businesses such as coalition and unity deals will be revisited and probably sealed. We have an exciting roadmap for MDC members, supporters and everybody associated with the great party. The party is on very firm ground with switched on drivers in control.
NZ: When exactly this year are you holding your congress and will your President Welshman Ncube be seeking re-election?
KC: No date yet but what is certain is that we are due for congress and that congress will be held in any of the twelve months of the year. Constitutionally, Professor Welshman Ncube is eligible to contest for a second term if he so wishes but the race will be opened to every aspiring member.
NZ: What is the current status of your reunification talks with the PDP and what has caused the delay?
KC: The MDC and PDP deal is work in progress since we share the same umbilical cord. That is one of those deals that will be revisited in 2016; as you may be aware, there are a number of developments that took place after the Old Harareans signing ceremony in 2014. The deal has not been abandoned but had been shelved to give our PDP comrades breathing space since they wanted time to first deal with their in-house issues.
NZ: Do you think you can also reunite with the MDC-T at some point since you also share the same umbilical cord?
KC: We cannot rule out unity with the MDC-T at this stage since 2016 is a new year with opportunities for the unrepentant to repent. The MDC will not slam the door on anyone including the MDC-T. Doors are still open for likeminded, pro-democracy forces but it will be foolish for us to waste precious time trying to mix water and oil. In our view, 2016 is the year for some opposition forces to reinvent themselves if they want to regain lost glory. We are in the trenches busy preparing our troops for the bruising battles ahead. It is very possible to build an election winning coalition without MDC-T.
NZ: Your party has, in recent months, been rocked by high profile resignations, what was pushing your members out of the party?
KC: We did not chase anyone away from the party but like in any other revolutionary organisation, there are always some good and bad apples. The MDC does not keep bad apples or crooks within its ranks. One of them was caught messing and fled to Tsvangirai’s house upon being served with a suspension letter. We are not missing these hunters and gatherers who have been to every political station in search of money.
NZ: There are fears the coming into opposition politics by Joice Mujuru and a host of other former Zanu PF politicians is going to trigger defections from other opposition parties to People First. Do you, as a party, feel threatened?
KC: The MDC is not losing sleep over Zanu PF offshoots and cheap tactics since that will not affect our campaign for a new Zimbabwe. We are a powerful, lively and well resourced political party with structures in every corner of Zimbabwe armed with a life changing program.
NZ: What will you do to try and stop the exodus?
KC: What exodus? The resignation of two or three hunters and gatherers will never shake the thick walls of our party. We have been receiving new members from other parties since 2014 when we embarked on an extensive recruitment drive in and outside Zimbabwe.
NZ: In the event of a grand coalition among opposition forces coming into fruition ahead of 2018, how best do you think it can be configured to every party’s satisfaction?
KC: A successful coalition is the one organised in good faith by non-partisan organisations and not wolves in sheep skins. We will never be part of a partisan and dubious coalition arrangement meant to abuse opposition forces. We have seen and heard about biased and dubious coalitions organised by known political criminals in town.
NZ: What will you, as a party, be bargaining for in the event of a coalition?
KC: We will settle for quality, honest and able leadership that will provide guidance and direction to the coalition partners. The MDC does not usually approach such deals with dirty hands and filthy minds. The MDC will settle for the best leader for Zimbabwe. We take instructions from the people; progressive coalition partners will also settle for quality leadership and they know the best in the ring.
NZ: Do you think you can win elections on your own as a party?
KC: We are a party that has four legislators and strong grassroots structures that are waiting for the whistle. We have a strong gunman upfront to notch the required goals. Professor Welshman Ncube is a reliable and trusted commander holding a lot for Zimbabwe. He is a great unifier and a great fighter for political transformation in Zimbabwe.
NZ: If you fail to form any coalition, what strategies are you going to employ as a party to win the 2018 elections?
KC: We will continue to press Mugabe for implementation of electoral reforms to pave way for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. A lot has been happening and the morale is very high in the camp. We are a party of fighters ready for war. We are a united family in capable hands.
NZ: As a party, you have strongly been pushing for devolution, how frustrated are you now that that has failed to come by?
KC: We are not frustrated yet. We still believe that devolution is the only way to foster prosperity in Zimbabwe. We cannot continue with centralization of power with or without Robert Mugabe. We have a national policy framework for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe anchored on devolution of power.
NZ: There is a belief that Zimbabweans are not yet ready to elect a Ndebele President, what is your comment?
KC: It is not about tribe, race, colour, origin or sweet tongues that matters but ability to resuscitate a country in intensive care unit. Zimbabwe is ready for a good leader regardless of tribe. Tribal wars are retrogressive and only an idiot will shamelessly preach the tribal gospel. The hot seat in Zimbabwe is not for Zezurus or Korekores alone. There is need for us to cast the net wider when choosing national leadership. A leader is not made a tribalist by virtue of language or origins. If Professor Ncube was a tribalist, he would not have survived this far.
NZ: Do you think President Mugabe and some of his top ranking colleagues should face punishment at some point for past transgressions against Zimbabweans?
KC: There is urgent need to heal the country and President Mugabe was provided with a window to do so during the GNU era but decided to keep quiet and became big headed. We cannot honestly ignore the merciless slaughtering of over 20 000 innocent citizens and say it is water under the bridge. Robert Mugabe and his top ranking crooks will never get away with murder. Zanu PF criminals cannot be allowed to get away with genocide.