ZIMBABWE – Last week Daily News chief reporter Fungisai Kwaramba (FK) spoke to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai (MT) about the state of the economy and the power struggles in the opposition, and the way forward for Zimbabwe.
FK: Let’s talk about the economy first. As the main opposition party, what do you think needs to be done to stop the decay we are noticing?
MT: The imperative is that this economy needs revival but Zanu PF does not have the means and the tools to revive the economy because the conditions are just rigid.
How do you revive the economy when there is no stability, when all the elements of an economic performance are negative?
From our side, there are a number of things that need to be done including resolving the political crisis caused by illegitimacy.
That is why some from the civil society are calling for convergence to resolve the political crisis.
FK: Are you going holidaying this festive season?
MT: When I went to my rural home in Buhera, I just visited them on a weekend and when I left my mother was saying tozoonana paChristmas (We will see you on Christmas day), unfortunately I could not make it, and she asked how will she celebrate Christmas then.
It is typical of a rural family with no breadwinner, how are they going to survive? It’s a bleak festive season.
It is totally different from the Christmases that people used to have. If people in urban areas fail to go to their homes, how are they supposed to celebrate it?
We know Christmas as the time when people celebrate and meet, but the bleakness seems to cut across the rural-urban divide.
FK: And we have witnessed some clashes between your supporters and Zanu PF. What is happening, are we going to see a rise in cases of violence as we approach the 2018 elections?
MT: They have to disrupt the MDC meetings, they know that the MDC is the only political game in town that can end the madness and political leadership failure that has characterised this country, so by any means, any form of mobilisation must be crushed and that is why we have witnessed.
It’s the nature of a dictator, but dictators will always fall, they cannot survive when people live in poverty.
Let’s find solace in the fact that this dictatorship has nowhere to go, it is trapped in its own political and economic quagmire.
FK: But it seems as if the MDC is presently weak, can it really mount a strong challenge to Zanu PF?
MT: Look at what the MDC has achieved since its formation and what is the political context under which the MDC has had to operate, and what is the measurement of weakness?
The MDC came on the scene when the crisis of leadership had manifested itself and the fact that the MDC established itself in the national psyche demonstrates that it was a people’s project whose time had come to challenge the Zanu PF hegemony and it had succeeded in doing so.
If there is any fear in Zanu PF it is the fear of the MDC. We have won against all odds, we have won against violence, we have won against State machinery, a monopolised public media. We now have a Constitution against the resistance of Zanu PF.
That Constitution has set a new political culture and there is no going back, that is why Zanu PF is resisting implementing it.
We cannot go back to the government of national unity, Zanu PF having failed, begged the MDC to rescue the situation.
FK: But people are getting frustrated with the MDC…
MT: I hear what people say, “but you are failing to dislodge Zanu PF.” We are not a military organisation.
If we look at the liberation struggle, it took many years trying to remove the settlers. We are not an armed guerrilla movement, we are a democratic party.
The difficult part is how do you remove an entrenched dictatorship through democratic means.
It is a tall order and it can only be testified by people who have been in the trenches, people who have been raped, and people who have been traumatised by this regime.
I don’t see the opposition as weak but I see them as confronting a dictatorship in very difficult times.
FK: What about the fragmentation of the MDC?
MT: The bulk of the people, the majority of the people are committed to change, of course they would be fringe activities that may lead to fragmentation and splits but the bulk of the people of this country are committed and convinced about the right for change in this country, whether a few people break away but there is a commitment to change.
I think, at the moment, the opposition has come to coalesce around convention around issues rather than occupy themselves with positions.
FK: But the MDC keeps on splitting…
MT: It is part of the struggle, the lessons of the struggle. I think Zanu PF has also split just like the MDC, and don’t equalise the two splits.
Splits in Zanu PF are more dangerous because it is the ruling party and those splits actually cause instability where the president (Robert Mugabe) stands up and starts castigating the securocrats.
It’s very dangerous. Where the president stands up and starts castigating the war veterans as if they did not make any contribution, so you can see a split in the State is very dangerous.
FK: You talk often about the big tent. Have you tried to reach out to some who walked out of the MDC.
MT: We have done everything on our part to ensure that people understand the process of unity.
There is already an understanding in the opposition that we need electoral reforms, who doesn’t need reforms?
People of Zimbabwe should be able to choose their leader freely and we are hoping that there will be more convergence on the economy, on the Constitution and how we want to be ruled as a country. These are matters that have nothing to do with individuals but are institutional.
FK: You have a party and Mai Mujuru is still to launch hers, do you see yourself getting involved with them?
MT: First and foremost, I have always said that in the spirit of the big tent anyone who subscribes to the democratic ideals is welcome and if People First launch their party, they are welcome; we will definitely work with them.
The problem with people is, you look at personalities, these are institutional relations.
Obviously for me, I have nothing against People First, but actually feel sorry for them because they were working in a party that can eat its own children.
We believe in a new direction for the people and that does not involve Zanu PF.
FK: Some accuse you of having a big brother mentality.
MT: How have I demonstrated that I want to be the big brother? We have treated everyone equally.
This process of regrouping of opposition parties does not need any big brother, you have to treat each other equally.
There is no such thing as big party, small party, and everyone can make a contribution.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, the Mangomas of this world the Bitis of this world, if they want to play a relevant role for this country, if they are really serious about representing the people then you will find me very accommodative.
I don’t bear grudges with anyone. Of course, there are some who walked away citing grievances but when it comes to the question of the people and their objectives, you will find me very cooperative.
FK: Let us talk about factionalism in the MDC, the State media says Nelson Chamisa leads a faction and you also lead another. What is your take on this?
MT: There are people who are not ready to see the MDC united. There are people who have their own imaginations of divisions, and we are not Zanu PF.
They want to compare us with Zanu PF. No. Chamisa is not even in the standing committee, and he is a member of the executive.
How do you have a faction of a member of the national executive fighting a member of the standing committee, how does that happen.
I would imagine this issue of factionalism lives in the imagination of certain media but it won’t happen.
We work very smoothly with Chamisa. He has been appointed to coordinate policy and he is playing his role, that is how a party should work, division of labour, there is only one leader at a time.
I am talking of a big tent beyond the party. How do I then lead a faction? There is no substance.
FK: You have a new expensive car.
MT: Moda ndifambe netsoka here (You want me to be a pedestrian?), I didn’t buy that vehicle. It was brought by the party.
If you see the cars we were now using, you would be shocked. They are run down.
There are some people who have an obsession with Tsvangirai and I tell you they will be having more skeletons in the cupboard.