'We've not betrayed democracy'

HARARE - The ruling by the Speaker of National Assembly — Jacob Mudenda — to recall 21 MPs from the MDC renewal team on the instructions of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai has generated heated debates with varying opinions being put forward by pro and anti democracy groups.

MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora (DM) spoke to Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki (GM) on the recall and MDC’s participation in the now vacant constituencies and below are the excerpts of the interview.

GM: You have been accused of betraying democracy by recalling 21 MDC renewal MPs from parliament. Was this the best idea for the MDC?

DM: Yes. Definitely it was the best idea for the MDC to recall these MPs. The reason is that they had ceased to belong to the Movement for Democratic Change.

They were acting against the interests of the party that sponsored them to Parliament. They were acting in competition to the party and it is unfair to be represented in Parliament by your competitors and your opponents.

The law is very clear; once someone has formed their own political party, they have to relinquish the seat. And in following the law we cannot be accused of betraying democracy.

It is undemocratic to occupy a seat which is not yours, it is undemocratic to avoid elections, to avoid congresses, we did invite these people to a congress and they chose not to come and congress resolved that they be fired.

It is them who were staying in parliament undemocratically.

GM: Have you not given Zanu PF these seats on a silver platter?

DM: First of all the renewal team has not been prevented from contesting those seats. What we see here is that the renewal team is conceding defeat to Zanu PF in advance and yet they tell the people that they have got support.

Our decision not to participate in elections is based on our commitment to electoral reform. We are trying to force the government into agreeing to electoral reform.

There are already signs of the government yielding to the pressure that we have put in. These electoral reforms don’t take time at all; they are contained in the new Constitution anyway.

Theoretically, the electoral reforms can take even one day to put into place. So our decision to recall them cannot be a betrayal of democracy.

Here is a bunch of MPs who were no longer coming for caucuses, who were no longer getting instructions from the party and who were bad-mouthing the leadership of the party and doing a disservice to their constituencies.

For example, they were no longer going to their constituencies even for feedbacks, which is a requirement of the MDC. So we have not given these seats on a silver platter.

Our national council is going to meet to review the situation in view of the successful recall but democracy is the rule by the majority. And the rule by the majority in the MDC is that these people had ceased to act in the interests of the party.

But we didn’t just start by recalling them. We gave an amnesty in August last year, we followed up by an invitation to congress and they didn’t come.

After congress again we sent emissaries led by Morgan Komichi to discuss with these people to come back to the party and represent the party. Recalling them was the last option but we had to do it.

As the leadership of the party we must also instil discipline among members of Parliament especially for them to respect the ticket under which they were elected. If we don’t do that then there will be no discipline in the party.

GM: Tendai Biti has accused the MDC for working with Zanu PF in the run up to their recall, is there any substance in this accusation?

DM: Well, Tendai Biti is very, very confused at this point in time. I don’t think he expected that Zanu PF which had promised that they would protect him, would in fact betray him.

We are a very intelligent party. We have got our human and material resources. We do not have to get help from Zanu PF at all. We attempted on two previous occasions to recall these people but we didn’t succeed. We then did it for the third time and we succeeded.

Now, is he inferring that in the two times he was the one working with Zanu PF and in the third time it is us working with Zanu PF? No. We do not have to get instructions from Zanu PF to recall our MPs.

In fact what we had said to the Speaker is that there was a question of discrimination. Zanu PF, had in its bid to instil discipline within its ranks, fired two MPs and recalled them under almost similar circumstances. And our point was that the Speaker was acting in a discriminatory way.

We were not done any favours by Zanu PF at all. In fact when Oliver Mandipaka spoke in Parliament we had already filed our recall and he simply said it (expel MDC renewal MPs) because he was referring to Didymus Mutasa’s case and it did not benefit the MDC at all. So the thinking that we succeeded because we are working with Zanu PF is the usual underestimation that Tendai Biti and company have done on Morgan Tsvangirai and myself as a person despite the fact that I am as much a lawyer as him.

GM: Now that the national council is meeting over the recall, are you likely to have a change of heart in participating in the by elections?

DM: I do not think so. I can’t pre-empt the decision of the national council and the national executive but what we will do is we will give them the circumstances that exist especially the successful recall.

We will also give them the information regarding certain developments since the last national council. One of these developments that we want to look at is the promise by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to give us the voter’s roll.

Although Zec promised to give us the voter’s roll — both the electronic and print — up to now they have not given us. So we will give them (national council) all the facts and then they make their decision as a collective. But we are serious with reform, we are not so desperate to go to parliament or to fill those seats but we will do what is in the best interests of our people in the best interests of democracy.

But we cannot help but muse on the helplessness of the so-called renewal team.

Only yesterday they were claiming that they were MDC T. We are in possession of the documents they wrote when they made their application to the nomination court and we kept copies.

Fortunately these copies are there and signed by Biti himself which say that they are MDC Tsvangirai. How they wanted to change that, God knows. We are told they are going to court and we await their court action.

GM: There are fears that if the MDC decides not to participate in those by elections Zanu PF will grab those seats; politically will that be a wise thing to do by the MDC?

DM: It’s one of the considerations that will exercise the mind of the national council and the national executive. I can’t again preempt them but what has to be balanced here is the need for reform against the need to guard the zones of autonomy of the MDC.

But if it comes to the issue of the numbers in Parliament, the seats don’t add value at all because Zanu PF has two thirds anyway even with the current set up of (MDC) 91 MPs. Our technical team is busy doing a paper for the national executive and my office is also doing a paper for the president (Tsvangirai).

After all this is said and done we will look at what is in the best interests for the people, party and the country.


Comments (11)

The question is Biti and his renewal team worse than Zanu? That doesnt sound like you are an "intelligent party" at all. You are both not in government and dont have the numbers to challenge zanu in parliarment when you had superior numbers in parliament you couldnt force the reforms that you want and now you expect ZANU to push through reforms when they are assured of winning seats without even trying to rig?

Lt General - 23 March 2015

if you have not betrayed democracy, show it by changing leadership. tsvangirai should pass the baton that is the bone of contention with the other generals within mdc t, n, b of 99. tsvangis tested power and got corrupted absolutely for that matter. he is a handiende who fiddled with the constitution in order to overstay. there is no democracy in the mdc t. no, never.

zvirozviyedwa - 23 March 2015

Mr Biti and his gang, and their sympathisers ( i.e.the Zanupf thugs,touts thieves, rapists and murderers) need to be reminded that the expulsion of the Biti MPs is not in any way against the law. It is a case of the law as it is not as it ought to be. The most disturbing traits Mr Biti exhibits are those abundant in the character of Mr Mugabe. Like Mr Mugabe, Mr Biti is selfish, self-centered, ego-centric, cares only about himself and his interests and is more concerned with power and the honour,pride,prestige,status and other benefits that go along with it. Nothing more nothing less.These are very bad traits. He (and his group) always want things done their way and not in any other way all the time which is wrong. May be its time they realised that one cannot have it on both ends.

mosquito - 23 March 2015

all those who are saying tsvangirai must leave office are simply ignorant...tsvangirai did not get to the helm ega,people voted him in and that in itself is a democratic process...

zarmani - 23 March 2015

It is the same rhetoric with both Mugabe and Tsvangirai that "the people still want them in power"; it is undemocratic and wrong period. Democracy has never been a one man show that we are seeing in the trends of our somehow misconstrued politics.

TC - 24 March 2015

How can be we be such haters. The crime Biti committed was just to fight for the right thing Morgan messed us all up and gave Zanu PF a clear mandate. We are beginning to realize that Mugabe is not the problem , its our nature as Zimbabweans to support such leaders , look at how the Shamus and Mutasa s used to praise Mugabe and even comparing him to Jesus. There is a carbon copy in MDC , Gutu , Mwonzora who lost to Zanu Pf are doing the same singing praises for Morgan even when they know he cost the party an election and he will continue doing so. The results of 2013 ws a message to MDC and you still do not want to listen to the people same arrogance in Zanu. Tsvangirai had his chance and he is not being fair , he is the one prolonging our suffering , there is no clear and credible opposition in Zimbabwe but fragmented and disjointed . All our neighbours succeeded because there was credible opposition , look at Malawi , Zambia . We are our worst enemies , what ws Biti and team supposed to do if you might advise us you the wise ones


As for biti I thought he went to school and is a qualified lawyer but it looks like ane Mamhepo.Wasted school fees

Pompano - 24 March 2015

its just talk coming from mdc t supporters. empty talk it is. tsvangirai is a dictator who does not want any potential leader around him. he surrounds himself with people who sing for supper likee this gutu, the makonis and mwonzora. you could not have put it any clearer 'democracy is not a one man show'. in the mdc t, democracy = tsvangirai.

zvirozviyedzwa - 24 March 2015

Tsvangirai was elected at congress in 2014. When was Biti elected and where? If there is anyone who is anti-democracy its Biti and his gang of looters. They want to represent us MDC-T supporters yet they have their own party. How can that be? Why are they scared of standing on their feet and face the electorate? Riding on an MDC-T ticket yet you talk rubbish against MDC-T daily. How can that be?

Isu machinja - 24 March 2015

If Biti is able to turn tables fairly, let him go for elections and win. He should not cry for another man's sweat to take charge. Tsvangirai fought for this recognition, he suffered much while he enjoyed being in the ship with no effort to be known for fighting for democracy. Hazvisi nyore Biti shamwari work hard and get marks full stop

RANGARIRAI - 24 March 2015

Biti is a fundi but failed to saw it coming. He is a traitor as he and other MDC T negotiators did. They all closed the flow after promises from ZANU PF during negotiations in 2008. Yes, Biti and company received there shares but ndinochema vamwe avo vana zinditevera. Now you have been throne in the wilderness whilst Biti and Mangoma enjoying the cake. Watch the space, these guys will quit politics sooner than later. Sipepa and company left on the sun. Mdara uyu haadzidze. Ucharamba uri wekushandiswa.

Keee Kuseka - 24 March 2015

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