Madhuku twists knife into Zanu PF

HARARE - National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) interim leader, Lovemore Madhuku, has left the door ajar for a possible coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC  but for now he is growing his party, which he contends could make an upset in future elections.

Below are excerpts of the interview with Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki

Q: You announced, at the transformation of the NCA into a political party, that you would have a congress in March this year, where are you with those plans?

A: I must clarify that the issue about the March date was the expectation at the time that we had our congress to transform the NCA into a political party (and) at that time we had not known how much work was required for us to get to a congress but we were clear on what was supposed to be done.

We were supposed to have people joining, get structures in all relevant levels especially in wards and constituencies and thereafter hold the congress.

We have not covered much ground as we had anticipated at the time. Obviously that date is changing.

There will be a congress and possibly by the end of the year, if we judge by the rate at which we are going at the moment.

Q: Former members of the taskforce Takura Zhangazha and Blessing Vava quit the party over the NCA participation in council by-elections. Was this symptomatic of underlying problems?

A: Not at all. It was simply an indication that the organisation has very alert individuals, people with different views and different opinions.

I know that there were differences in terms of what was supposed to happen particularly with the by-elections that eventually took place in Harare, Masvingo and Zaka.

But we know that differences will always be there when people meet. What you do when you disagree, there is also a difference as to what kind of cooperation to take.

Some disagree and choose to remain together and work out their differences. Others disagree and part ways. This is common, not just in political parties but in life as well.

That’s why you would have some marriages ending in a divorce and in some marriages you remain stuck together but not as happy as they would want and then in a few years time get back to their original happiness.

In this case, we were of course disappointed that our colleagues chose to leave but we very much understand the reasons why they decided to leave.

We wish them well and I hope they also wish us well. But this is not at all (their departure) an indication of an underlying problem.

Remember that movements that are 40 years, 50 years, would have gone through many similar experiences.

So it is matter of life experiences — what do you do with a difference?

Q: Your party has not attracted big names. Does this affect you in as far as the court of public opinion is concerned?

A: It is not our intention to attract any big name. I do not know what big names are.

Our intention is to attract membership. A big name has one vote and they might also attract a few votes.

What matters in a movement is to get a membership and to get a programme of action that attracts ordinary people.

In electoral politics, what matters is your capacity to attract votes across the country. I am sure the big names you are talking about, many of them are already in politics.

So the intention of our movement was not to attract people from Zanu PF because they already almost fixed there, nor to attract people from the MDC. The other big names are people who are not in politics. It is a very faulty line of reasoning to say that a political party must attract big names.

Q: Does the current political environment allow and favour forming of coalitions to contest Zanu PF?

A: I think that for the past 15 years there has been that debate on coalitions. But that has not worked. Our view is that the better way forward is to have people who agree, who share objectives, who have the same ideologies, who can interact more without causing headaches to each other, to continue to work and build.

We only talk about coalitions when we reach an election. But outside an election there is no need to talk about a coalition. I think what you need outside an election is the capacity to mobilise.

When an election comes, that is when political players must decide how best to approach an election but the way of approaching election must be different from the way of  building a movement.

Q: It is too early and you are still mobilising, but how are you likely to fare in 2018 elections given problems that are elsewhere?

A: I think I should be very clear that we are not so foolish as to believe that we form as party today and we are in government in five years.

Our intention is to use the period between now and the next election to build a movement.

In 2018, we are expecting a very good performance in the election. We have not budgeted winning an election in 2018.

Our intention is to use the 2018 election to enter the political fray, get a number of seats and do very well in the presidential election.

If you want me to talk about our chances, we will definitely win elections in 2023.

Our trajectory is very clear; we are definitely building a movement and we have a 10-year programme — 2018 and 2023. If we fail in 2023, that’s when we can start announcing other things.

Q: What is your reading of Zanu PF’s fight against corruption?

A: Zanu PF is not fighting any corruption. It is actually a mistake to believe that Zanu PF is fighting corruption. All the State enterprises, the parastatals that are involved, these are institutions that have always been Zanu PF since 1980.

And the behaviour that we have seen in terms of the scandalous salaries was simply at the insistence of Zanu PF.

Those people that were taking these hefty salaries are on Zanu PF books. Any form of fighting corruption must clearly show the extent which each minister is clean.

If you go to the ministry of Information, for example, and have the high salaries payable to the ZBC people (executives) Shamu (Webster) must come out clear and say he was nowhere near that scandal.

If you get to what was happening at Psmas and so on, you get Zanu PF because all those guys, Cuthbert Dubes and so on, are all Zanu PF. 

The things we are investigating as opposition parties are how much each Zanu PF person was getting from the scandals that are unravelling. They are not fighting any corruption; they think the public is so gullible and be defeated and believe they are fighting corruption.

What you will see in 2018 will be that the public would be cleverer and they (Zanu PF) will not get any rewards for what they are currently doing now (fighting corruption).

It is extreme waste of time! How did that corruption develop in the first place? They should be punished for having that system developing.

It would have been different in other countries where you have a new government and that government cleans up. It is all a circus.

The economy will continue to have difficulties as long as Zanu PF has no idea of turning around the economy. But that is not the time to say everyone must not do their own work.

We must know as Zimbabweans that we have an incompetent government which will not be able to turn around the economy.

What we do not want to do is to throw away the baby with the bath water.

So Zimbabweans must be called upon in their own small way to do their best to make sure that the economy picks up while waiting for the opportunity in 2018 to kick the government out.

Q: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has extended invitations to his former allies — including you, to come back to the MDC. What is your reaction to that?

A: I think it is quite known that we have not spoken with the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai about that.

As far as we are concerned as the NCA, we take it as a non-event.

We do not work on that basis. All our concentration is just trying to ensure our party grows and that is what we are doing every day. There has been no call from Tsvangirai. If we were to take those kinds of calls and then react to them then you will be reacting to things everyday because those politicians will keep making other calls.

I am sure that day Tsvangirai was making a call for us to join him.

He might the next day be telling the world that we are a useless lot. We respect the right of other parties. Those were political statements that were useful for him.

A time will come when we will work with other political parties. It will be done differently and I think the invitations or discussions between political leaders will not be conducted that way. You can tell a serious statement from a complete political gimmick.

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