Zim faces political legitimacy crisis — Tsvangirai

HARARE - Daily News' news editor Gift Phiri (GP) chatted with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (MT) at his Highlands mansion for this exclusive and wide-ranging interview. Find below excerpts of the interview.

GP: What’s your take on the current state of the economy?

MT: First of all, I think you need to evaluate the current crisis and say what the root cause of that crisis is. To me, it’s a political crisis. The economic crisis is a symptom of the political crisis of legitimacy because that is the one that undermines the confidence in the economy.

GP: How do you think the situation can be salvaged?

MT: You know for the past five years, the economy was stabilised because of confidence in the economy due to political stability. Now, because of the crisis of legitimacy, as a result of a rigged election, already, it’s a crisis that has undermined economic confidence to the extent that all sectors have now been affected. There is a legitimacy crisis.

GP: Sorry to interrupt, how in your view, can this crisis of legitimacy be resolved?

MT: The only way to resolve it is to go back to the basics. If there is a political crisis you need national dialogue. You need national dialogue to resolve that national crisis. And in this case, Zanu PF must accept the responsibility that it must take the initiative to find a national consensus on the national crisis. Otherwise they are burying their head in the sand when they know the situation is not sustainable.

GP: When you talk about national dialogue, what exactly are we talking about? Are we talking about another GNU?

MT: No, no, no, not necessarily. National dialogue, all I am putting as a premise is that the national dialogue must be a national dialogue of all stakeholders unlike the previous one which was an elite pact between two or three political parties.

This time we need to expand to include churches, students, to include trade unions to include other political parties because we are trying to find a national consensus as to the way forward. We cannot then define what that way forward is until that national dialogue is organised.

GP: But it seems there is no appetite for this kind of national dialogue in Zanu PF.

MT: First of all, let’s say if Zanu PF is able to fulfil all its promises that they were espousing during their campaign and they were able to make sure that jobs are there, the economy is stabilised, there is investment, there is growth, there is food for everyone, then they have a right to rule. If they can fulfil that, then they would have justified their right to rule. At the moment all they promised is zero.

GP: Are you saying Zanu PF is not justified to rule?

MT: They are not justified. That is why the question of legitimacy becomes a critical issue. How then do you say I am the legitimate party in government when you cannot even solve one problem 10 months after the election?

GP: Do you have the leverage to force this national dialogue?

MT: That leverage comes as the national crisis deepens and people search for solutions. This, situation ,as i said, is untenable. It’s not sustainable.

And if we want to take Zanu PF seriously, they have to find a national solution to this crisis.

That is the leverage that the people of Zimbabwe have over this government.

GP: There is widespread corruption reported in State enterprises, local authorities; its pervasive, how do you think this can be resolved?

MT: In fact the whole governance structure is corrupt. We are doing a corruption index in our shadow cabinet on Thursday of various sectors. It won’t surprise me if every sector is corrupt. Now, the fundamental question is why have we become such a corrupt society? It’s because it (corruption) has been allowed to entrench itself.

There has not been any attempt, ever since the Willowgate scandal back then, and even scandals before then, no one has taken a firm grip on this corruption and put a stop to it. Corruption never starts at the top, and if at the top you are not able to address it, it permeates through the body politic.

GP: There has been criticism that you have been caught up in your internal power struggles, that you have not been able to respond to national crises such as the Tokwe-Mukorsi flood basin disaster.

MT: I think we will be organising something. We are all concerned with the plight of the people of Tokwe-Mukorsi. Government has got some emergency responses. It’s not a political response. It is a response to the crisis of the people on the ground. And the best agency to respond to the emergency of that nature is the government.

GP: Coming to squabbles in the MDC, the suspension of the deputy treasurer-general. Do you think due process was followed?

MT: Yes, as far as we are concerned due process was followed.

There was a resolution of the executive that what the deputy treasurer-general had done had undermined the reputation of the party and therefore it was a disciplinary issue.

Once the executive had made that recommendation, the only thing was to go to the council.

And council has made a resolution and we have already followed up to set up a tribunal which is going to hear Mr Mangoma’s case.

The charges were laid and so the council endorsed. As far as we are concerned, there is an attempt to portray Mr Mangoma as a victim.

He has not been found guilty of anything. He is going to face a disciplinary hearing and it is that disciplinary hearing on the proffered charges that Mr Mangoma has to answer. As far as I am concerned, you are not guilty until you are found guilty. Mr Mangoma is not guilty of any offence.

GP: Is he being victimised for airing his views?

MT: Far from it, it’s not about the substance of what he has raised. It’s his individual opinion and we respect it.

It’s the due process of saying once you have submitted a document, it now becomes an internal document, and it’s no longer for public debate and public discussion.

What he then did to go and defend his views in the public when the due process internally was already being focused on is what he is being disciplined for, not for the content of the letter.

GP: But he accuses you of leaking that letter.

MT: No. Far from it. Is it in my interest to leak a letter written to me? What benefit do I get out of that? In fact, I can say that if the truth be told, the letter was leaked by somebody other than ourselves.

GP: What about the secretary-general (SG), he has made disparaging remarks about the resolution of the national council? Isn’t there selective application of the law?

MT: First of all, I find that process of going to the press after a whole day of discussion quite out of order. But should there be any action on Mr Biti, the council has just met, the standing committee and the executive and council have just met to do a discussion on Mr Mangoma.

We haven’t even discussed the issue about the secretary-general. But what I can tell you is that you can’t sit in a meeting the whole day, and then after the meeting has concluded, you go outside, organise a press conference and say I don’t agree with what was happening in the meeting.

GP: Did he raise objections in the meeting?

MT: He didn’t raise any objections. I think it’s unprocedural and I think one of the things we always subscribe to as a democratic party is that the majority rules.

The majority opinion prevails and it has prevailed in the council where all the 12 provinces endorsed the decision plus the women and the youth wings. So it was an overwhelming endorsement of the process.

GP: Still on the SG, the remarks he made at Sapes Trust that you didn’t have a superior policy proposition ahead of elections. Do you share that view?

MT: I don’t share that view. Let’s say that this election, this past election on July 31, can we really conclude that people were allowed their right to choose?

Because where people have been allowed their right to choose, we can say perhaps different parties had different messages.

But the people were denied the right to choose.

This election was massively rigged. Because it was massively rigged, to even conclude that there was some different messaging I think is a misnomer and misplaced notion.

Besides, bhora mugedhi is not a message for the nation. It is an internal message just targeting at rebels who had said bhora musango during the previous election. So it has nothing to do with the national message and national appeal.

I mean everyone knows, even an old woman in Chiredzi, in Muzarambani or Tsholotsho, they all confirm that this election was rigged.

You don’t need scientists to analyse that. The facts are there, there was no voters’ roll.

The military was in charge, the counting was... done using voter slips all over the place. And Zanu PF and Mugabe know that they rigged this election massively.

GP: But do you regret participating in an election that was apparently flawed given that you didn’t have a voters’ roll for instance?

MT: I think, on hindsight, one would have said that going into an election without a voters’ roll was suicidal, without the necessary reforms was suicidal.

But the popular base and the momentum built during the campaign I think overwhelmed us to the extent  that I think people were so confident that whatever rigging would be overwhelmed by the numbers. So, yes, I think we should never enter a game where there is no level playing field.

GP: Critics say there is need for leadership renewal, that you have lost three presidential elections and perhaps it’s time to call a fresh congress. Are you averse to a fresh congress?

MT: We have never been averse to a congress. In fact, for me in August, just a month after the July 31 elections, I am the one who called for discussion around leadership renewal. I am one who introduced that terminology.

If there is need for leadership renewal, but it should not just be limited to leadership renewal, it must be organisational renewal. We need a new dynamism in the organisation, if you were to coin that word.

A congress is the one that bestows the mandate on any leader. I don’t subscribe to the notion that in asking for leadership renewal you are calling for hostile takeover or a coup as it were, through memos or letters.

You go to a congress, you put yourself up as a candidate and the people have the right to choose. You can’t then say, Tsvangirai get away, step down, because we feel you should step down.

No. Two-and-half years into my mandate, you can’t then demand and you say voluntary resignation! Ah! Voluntary.

Then that means I have to decide. It cannot be forced on me. And besides, I owe it to the people to go to a congress and to subject myself to the people’s verdict.

GP: What type of congress do you envisage?

MT: We are even discussing about bringing forward our congress in 2016 . There is debate now, when can we bring our congress forward so that we put an end to this so-called leadership wrangle. But it cannot just be me. It has to be everyone. Every layer of the party must subject themselves to the congress.

GP: So, it’s not a referendum on your presidency, it will be all posts?

MT: No. It will be all posts, from branch to the top; everyone, because you cannot go and express an opinion over somebody when you have no mandate. You have to have a mandate, from the branch, going up right up to the end. Then we can express an opinion. So it’s a process. It’s never going to be an event.

GP: Have donors disengaged from your party.

MT: I don’t know what donors you are talking about. The party MDC has always gotten its support from the people of Zimbabwe through the Political Parties Finance Act and through the generous contributions of Zimbabweans.

Let me just say that Zimbabweans know and they are always committed to underwrite their struggle. And in their various (forms), whether it is business, individuals, they are the ones that have sustained this party since its birth. This party would never have been sustained up to now without the support, financial and otherwise of Zimbabweans.

GP: Are you happy with the financial resources that were committed to your 2013 campaign?

MT: Well we definitely did not have a sufficient resource, that’s a fact. Of course, comparable to Zanu PF which obtained resources illegally from other heads of state, China, we didn’t have that. I say illegal because you are not allowed to get any money from outside.

GP: Under the Political Parties Finance Act?

MT: Yah

GP: Do you believe the MDC will form an exclusive government at some point?

Let me just put it emphatically. The MDC will form the next government. Zanu PF has failed even to implement its own election promises. It has rigged its way for the last three or so elections. Now it’s only the MDC which is an alternative.

I don’t foresee any other alternative besides MDC. And in the last elections, if we are going to go by the last election 2008 and 2013, the support of the MDC is solid. The support for people for democratic change is solid. And I have no doubt in my mind that that goal will be achieved in our lifetime.

GP: You said in November 2012 that when you lose elections you will step down, and now you are backtracking.

MT: No, definitely. Why? If I lose an election openly and freely, I will definitely consider that. I am not backtracking from anything. All I am saying is that the last election was not free and fair. I did not lose the last election.

I won it, it was rigged massively. So you cannot then say I should be answerable for an election that was not free and fair. So I am not backtracking from the philosophy, from the principle that losing a free and fair election, definitely I would have stepped down.  But I did not lose.

GP. Are you renting a farm?

MT: No, I am not renting a farm, All this speculation, you see this fixation on Tsvangirai and what he owns, even his chickens, of course I have got mombes, like any good African

I have mombes. Am I not allowed to have mombes? But I don’t and I have never owned a farm, I have never grabbed anyone’s farm. All these things that are being portrayed in the State media that I have a farm somewhere, no.

Comments (4)

tsvangirai trade unionism is still raw in you. Dialoge nani uye yeyi. MDC will never succeed as long as you dream like this.

hope - 19 March 2014

well said SAVE

kekule - 19 March 2014


Rabison Nyundo(THE HAMMER) - 19 March 2014

Tired Discussion mani!!

Regalia - 20 March 2014

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