Home » Governance » ’No Going Back On Leadership Renewal’ [interview]

Factionalism in MDC-T has reached a crescendo amid expulsions, suspensions and violence. A lobby within the party calling itself MDC-Team is demanding Mr Morgan Tsvangirai steps down from the helm. Our Senior Political Writer, Tichaona Zindoga (TZ), spoke to one of the renewal proponents, lawyer Jacob Mufume (JM), who says Mr Tsvangirai is dispensable.

We publish excerpts. TZ: MDC-T on Thursday said you have been expelled from the party along with Mr Elton Mangoma, Mr Promise Mkwananzi and Mr Last Maengahama. What is your take on the development?

JM: I think, firstly it’s a very sad and pointless development. The announcement was made dead at law, ill-conceived, null and void and in contradiction to our own constitution and in contradiction to the rules of natural justice. You don’t expel somebody without bothering to tell them what crime they committed and what section of the constitution have they have violated. You don’t give them a right to be heard you simply hear the side of the accuser, if there was any. And you simply vote in an improperly constituted meeting – was it the National Council or was it an emergency National Council and so on and so forth.

So we are of the view that this process was null and void and unnecessary. We have not yet of course been given a written document and these matters are being only being reported in the Press. We will continue to carry out our duties and we will continue to be members of MDC and we ignore this rank madness in the cockpit of the MDC and continue focusing on what needs to be done to alleviate the problems that this country is facing.

TZ: What has gone wrong in and with the party?

JM: The genesis of the crisis in MDC has been obviously the challenge against Morgan Tsvangirai, the challenge against his leadership that was exhibited by the letter written to him by my client Elton Mangoma. Now that challenge was basically that we need to look at leadership renewal.

It has been 15 years since Tsvangirai has been in the struggle for the democratisation of Zimbabwe and in those 15 years he has given his effort – his best effort I would like to believe – but it hasn’t worked to our satisfaction and the belief is that he has had his Mandela moment with the GNU.

He and the President Mugabe were opponents since 2000 and then people decided to have them work together – that didn’t work out as well as it should be.

It can no longer be a Mugabe-Tsvangirai dynamic ad-infinitum so we have to look at the progress. There is a view that it is not possible to win in 2018 with the current set-up in the MDC and also with the current strategies as we have followed them.

We need to have a fresh start, fresh leadership and also fresh strategies towards the democratisation of Zimbabwe.

TZ: Some people feel that Morgan Tsvangirai is the face of the opposition. How is the grassroots taking the issue of leadership renewal?

JM: I do believe that there will be an MDC-T after Morgan Tsvangirai. It’s like asking will there be a Zimbabwe without President Robert Mugabe. It’s obvious there is an ANC after Mandela. He left office and he died.

There was a Chama Cha Mapinduzi after Julius Nyerere. Succession in a democratic party or succession in parties is the norm rather than the “no”.

What is abnormal is for people to stay there and become the definition of entities that are a collection of democrats. It is unheard of and we will not want that. A successful institution is one that can succeed. If our institution has become a person then clearly it’s an indictment on how we have done the democratisation of Zimbabwe because clearly we have failed to democratise our own institutions.

I believe that the MDC will succeed. Who has not been renewed in the MDC? If you look at the founding top six, it’s only one person who has remained. All there other top members have been renewed. Elias Mudzuri was renewed. Did the thing fall? The others have passed on. Gibson Sibanda left and so on and so on.

So what can be so special about one particular person in the MDC that it cannot be renewed? It can be renewed and, mark my words, it will be renewed and the MDC will succeed together with the other democrats even if Morgan Tsvangirai moves from the scene.

I do believe that the grassroots’ concern is not that Morgan Tsvangirai should be the permanent leader. The grassroots’ concern is that MDC was supposed to be a vehicle (1) For the democratisation of Zimbabwe and (2) alleviating the problems that people are currently facing – low pay, unemployment, lack of jobs and so on.

So people require the vehicle to do something for them and so they are not in a suicide pact with the leader of the opposition.

TZ: You have been talking about “MDC Team” and “MDC Renewal”. What is the philosophy and composition of the same?

JM: The philosophy behind the team is that we believe that the problems that are facing the country the problems that are facing the party are not to be done by one individual they will be done by a team. The politics of big men in Africa has gone.

Parties are being led by ordinary people, by ordinary presidents. The era where leaders got caught up in a messianic complex where they believed that they and they alone are to serve the people is gone. So we believe that if we are to do this thing we will have to create Team MDC or MDC Team and we will run Zimbabwe through Team Zimbabwe.

The composition at the current moment is those of us who have come out and within the MDC itself there are more who are persuaded to our point of view. You can see with the suspensions, the lifting of suspensions the targeting of people.

If you look at the people who have been targeted, those are the people who are seen as a part of the MDC Team. And there are also those who have not yet been targeted who believe that they are part of an MDC Team.

TZ: If I get you correctly, is that a declaration of a separate movement or party?

JM: At the moment, it is a movement within a movement. It defines a certain desire to be able regenerate MDC. We do not necessarily believe those who say that whenever you want regeneration you have to go and form your own organisation.

You cannot run a nation democratically if you cannot run your own party democratically and we believe that some of the decision-making processes will be better off if the parties start having intra-party democracy.

There are factions in ZANU-PF but you can’t say (Cde Emmerson) Mnangagwa go and form your own party if you don’t believe that (Cde Joice) Mujuru should be the President and vice versa. No!

They will be allowed to compete just like what the President has said.

And the President recently was quoted as saying that it is not automatic for these two to become presidents. He did not say to them go and form your own parties if you want to be presidents of ZANU-PF so, likewise, we don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that we necessarily need to form a new party.

We will renew the MDC from within. If, however, that fails then all options are open.

TZ: There are claims the renewal lobby is working with ZANU-PF. Your comment?

JM: We are going to take legal action in regards to the clearly defamatory article that was published in the Daily News. We believe in media freedom but I think sometimes our comrades in the media take factional politics a bit too far.

We are not working with ZANU-PF our views are different from those that are exhibited by ZANU-PF. However, we cannot be scared if some people label us for expressing an idea.

If we are saying you are overstaying in power or you are overstaying in your position you cannot then say we are supporting ZANU-PF. If we are saying that you are not obeying the constitution you cannot say we are being supported by ZANU-PF. It does not make sense.

TZ: And you have been accused of working with Western embassies too?

JM: At some point they will have to make up their minds on what is going on. Have ZANU-PF and Western diplomats ganged up to work with us? I think people must interact with our ideas. People must interact with what we are arguing for. You don’t need to be paid to say what we are saying. We want renewed strategic focus, we also want a renewed leadership.

The issue of who is funding who can lead us in a very strange direction.

Anyway, who is staying in a Government-funded house? Who is staying in a US$3 million house? Who got cars from Government? Who even got wives from ZANU-PF? Now you get wives from ZANU-PF, you get a house from ZANU-PF yet you take one finger to point at people who have nothing from ZANU-PF.

Last Maengahama has been in jail because of Government. I have nothing from ZANU-PF.

TZ: How do you take the idea of coalition of opposition forces in Zimbabwe, have you reached out to the likes of Welshman Ncube?

JM: Yes, we are reaching to all democrats that are locked up in undemocratic institutions. So this is a call to all democrats that we are renewing our strategies, we are renewing the focus of our institutions. A coalition of democrats is long overdue.

We are calling on all of them wherever they might be situated whether in political parties, civic society, traditional institutions and part of Zimbabwean society that we need a coalition of democrats we need to be able to come together and confront the current Government and create another Government.

TZ: Just out of interest, are we likely to see your face near Harvest House and what is your game plan going forward?

JM: Well, at this moment my face will not be anywhere near Harvest House for the simple reason that there are elements that are there that might create the wrong headlines think the focus should not be for those few who do not understand the meaning of democracy who had taken to make it upon themselves to mete out physical injustice towards people whom they perceive to be contrary or what they want.

So at this juncture we will spare those people who would want to get headlines for the wrong reasons. Our game plan is that we are obviously going to the people, we are going to speak to the people at the grassroots to persuade them to take our viewpoint for them to understand the structures of MDC-T. We are also going to speak with key opinion leaders in this country.

Source : The Herald

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