Home » Governance » ’Coalition Not About Unseating Mugabe’ [interview]

WELSHMAN Ncube , president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has given his gest hint that he will not re-unite with his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, dashing any hope that the two could bury the hatchet and unite forces against the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe. He spoke to the Financial Gazette’s Assistant Bureau Chief, Ray Ndlovu , and below are extracts of the interview.

Is the MDC any ger now than it was in the run-up to last year’s election?

Most certainly. Most of the doubters and agents of others among us are gone. We remain with a core leadership, at all levels, of firm believers and unshakable democrats who believe not just in the sacrosanctity of our values and principles but also in the dignity of honest committed struggle for those values for as long as it takes. Ours is a life commitment to the betterment of the political, economic and social lives of our people. Our resolve is more unshakable now than ever. We are much clearer of the things we failed to appreciate before the last election and the things we did wrong. We understand what we have to do.

There have been resignations and defections of party members to the rival MDC-T party in the past few months. Is this a sign of the lack of confidence some members have in your leadership and ability to win an election?

Let us start by being faithful to facts. Those facts are not consistent with the attempt in some media circles to give the impression that there has been an exodus of our leadership to other parties. Only two members of the standing committee left the party, namely, Sondon Mugaradziko and Qhubani Moyo. None of them have joined the MDC-T. Only two former members of Parliament who were also members of the national executive, one of them by appointment rather than election, formally left the party to join the MDC-T. However, discerning readers would know that these two in fact, were among those of our members who went to Botswana in 2008 to strategise with the MDC-T on how they would work with that party in destroying us! We were always aware that at that meeting each of their number was deployed to play different roles in the implementation of the strategy which was adopted and coined the strategy of the three Ds, Deceive, Delay and Destroy. At provincial level, we are aware of only two of our leaders leaving and joining the MDC-T. As democrats we take it as axiomatic that from time to time there will be some who will find their convictions ill at ease with our values and principles and find themselves more comfortable with the things other parties stand for. When that happens it is only right that they should go to the home of their most comfort.

Will you stand for re-election in the next 2016 elective congress?

In our party, my desire to stand or not stand for re-election at congress is wholly irrelevant because I cannot and will not nominate myself. I have to be nominated by the provinces. If the provincial structures of the party decide that I should stand for re-election I will stand because I believe that I still have a positive role in the task of rebuilding our party to be the party of choice of all democrats committed to the rebuilding of our country and the prosperity of our people. What I will not do is to seek to reconstitute the structures of the party which attend congress in such a manner as would be designed to re-elect me.

What are your thoughts around the split in the MDC-T which peaked with the suspension of Tsvangirai by Tendai Biti last month?

The MDC-T fight is not our fight. We have no business being involved in it, even as commentators. What the public is entitled to know, even by way of repetition, is that apart from the renewal team’s demand for their president to stand down, the rest of their issues are the very issues we confronted in 2005 and on which we chose, nine years ago to make a stand for the reason that those issues were at the core of why we had formed the MDC. We did not demand that the president should stand down but we demanded that he should abide by the MDC constitution and the decisions collectively made by the leadership under that constitution! We demanded that he should cease what had become his habit of unilaterally and alone reversing the decisions of the national council. We demanded that he should disband his youth militia which was terrorising party leaders and members, we demanded that he should be unequivocally committed to the non-use of violence as an instrument of political organisation and settling internal debates and discussions within the party. We demanded that he and his kitchen cabinet should refrain from deploying ethnicity as a weapon to silence those in leadership who held different views on issues of the day!

Is a grand coalition the best strategy to use to unseat President Mugabe?

Yes, but the narrative should never be about unseating President Mugabe. The different narrative that we need is a narrative about the welfare of the people, their rights to living in freedom, liberty, dignity and free from want and about the obligation of political leaders to serve rather than to rule, the absolute imperative of freeing our politics from the mediocrity of leadership which knows only ‘the Mugabe must go’ slogan. ‘The Mugabe must go’ narrative is a politically and intellectually bankrupt narrative which teaches us that our vision, our commitment to a truly democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe and our instruments for the construction of that Zimbabwe are matters which we should not only constantly debate but must ignore all who keep shouting ‘Mugabe must go’ even as we witness those who claim to be leaders of our struggle mimicking just about every vice we want to remove (President) Mugabe for. This ‘Mugabe must go’ mantra has become a convenient shield behind which we cynically deceive people. We must change the way we do the business of politics and that the opposition must find a common template for 2018. It is imperative that we together with other true democrats approach the next election with a single credible voice for the democratic struggle to be rescued from the current sterility and deliver Zimbabwe to a better space in our lifetime. Our view is that the coalition of democrats will be based on an agreement by political parties, civil society, churches, students, diaspora, workers and other citizens in their various stations in life to reaffirm the democratic struggle based on agreed principles and values and that all political parties that will be part of the coalition will in word and action be faithful to democracy. We will on our part insist that we all sign up to and adhere to non-violence, non-sexism, non-chauvinism, zero corruption tolerance and all other isms which have caused our nation pain.

Who do you think should be the leader of the grand coalition and what criteria will be used in coming up with that leader?

It would be presumptuous and unhelpful to the efforts we are making towards the building of a coalition of democrats for me to give my personal opinion on this question. What matters, at this stage is for us to focus, not on personalities and individual interests, but on the building blocks that we need to construct the coalition of democrats. We must focus on agreeing on the values and principles which will bind us together, on the construction of a framework which will be the structure of the coalition, on a template on how we will select those who will run for office under the umbrella of the coalition from the presidential candidate to local government candidates and the formulation of a policy framework for delivering genuine and people impacting change to bring the long running national crisis to an end. Thus who the presidential candidate will be is not, at this stage, an important question! What matters is that when we do select that candidate she or he must be a person whose democratic credentials invite no reasonable contestation.

Is there any likelihood of an engagement between you and Tsvangirai to find a solution to the differences that you have had in the past, in order to give more weight to the coalition?

WN: No.

Source : Financial Gazette