'Tsvangirai unlikely to pave way for Mujuru'

HARARE - Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition executive director McDonald Lewanika speaks to Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki about civic society’s role in the current discourse and the political terrain.

Below are the excerpts of the interview.

Q: Zimbabwe civil society is accused of having a stork syndrome — hiding one leg — in this current political and socio-economic situation; is this a fair accusation?

A: It depends on how one views and understands civil society. Is it civil society organisations and associations or is it a space where a legitimate contest of ideas and agendas takes place.

If it’s the first view, we need to admit that there is indeed a fair amount of atrophy that seems to have plagued “organised” civil society in its traditional form of professional and associational groups, which are definitely not operating at optimal levels.

A lot of this inefficiency is self inflicted as civil society in that form has been infiltrated in some sections by a self-serving elite, keener on fighting each other for perceived power and prominence in the sector and engaging in the combat in vicious and uncivil manners, instead of focusing their arsenal on bringing the rogue Zimbabwean state to account and serve the people of Zimbabwe.

The foregoing has led to fractures, fractions and factions in civil society, which impede its ability to be able to benefit from collaborative programming and unity of purpose.

But to characterise the situation as acutely as being akin to having stork syndrome is an unfair characterisation, which does not take into cognisance the immense challenges that civil society faces.

For civil society to be effective, the environment needs to be enabling politically, socially and economically.

Q: What role can the civil society play in this current political discourse?

A: The Zimbabwean polity is at an interesting political juncture, with changes afoot politically both in the oppositional and ruling political spaces.

These shifts present a unique opportunity for civil society to be able to impact on the emerging political space, but it can only do this if civil society itself is organised, strategic and bereft of unnecessary antagonisms and internal contradictions.

Q: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has been accused of taking sides with MDC and funding activities opposed to government, how transparent are your activities?

A: The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is and has always been a very political space but one that is a non-partisan conglomeration of civil society organisations. While perceptions of taking sides with the MDC exist, two things largely fan these.

Firstly a confluence of interests around the good governance of this country, which the opposition professes to demand and which we hold dear — our vision is that of a democratic Zimbabwe and any group that holds the same vision political or otherwise is bound to find itself on our good side.

Secondly, these perceptions have also been fanned by the ruling party Zanu PF in its bid to undermine the credibility of the Coalition through painting it as an un-independent actor perpetuating a regime change agenda. A lot of this is clever political gamesmanship, which cannot be supported by evidence.

Q: How far have you gone, as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in trying to improve relations with government?

A: Considering where we started off as an organisation in 2001, where we held the view that Zimbabwe was being run by an illegitimate cabal, which had grabbed power and was not worth engaging with, I would say we have gone a long way in improving relations with the government.

Now we appreciate that while we may not like the way they do business, Zanu PF is in power and is both part of the problem but also part of the solution.

We believe that a lot of what is wrong in this country demands collective national dialogue, and there is no way that one can sponsor such a notion with fostering some level of access, engagement and relations with the government.

Q: How harmful have been Zanu PF failures and unresolved succession issue to the recovery of the country’s economy?

A: Firstly, in a country where the state and the ruling party are inextricably linked and conflated, there is no doubt that development in one affects the other. As such, Zanu PF challenges, which have resulted in a split (in everything but name only) in that party, have also resulted in similar splits in the state, which have led to contradictions in the state with severe repercussions for our economy.

These contradictions include inconsistencies on government policy, different fractions in the state working at cross purposes with each other, a lack of fluency in government implementation of state-sanctioned economic programmes and discord in terms of our nation’s engagements and pronouncements to international and local capitol.

Secondly, there is a direct relationship between how Zanu PF administers its affairs, with how they administer the State. So if Zanu PF administers its party in an undemocratic fashion, which pays no heed to either constitution or common sense, this also translates to the State.

It translates to the State as confusion and a lack of predictability and respect for the rule of law, which is central to economic recovery beyond the extent we can fend for ourselves as a country, especially as it relates to foreign direct investment.

Q: How much of a blow is Joice Mujuru’s removal to Zanu PF’s chances of retaining power in 2018?

A: Well Zanu PF is the state and it has always survived in elections through deployment of the state apparatus to retain its dominance and power.

So while in terms of perception Mai Mujuru enjoys some support, the extent to which she actually impacts the state’s ability to ensure Zanu PF continuity is questionable. Besides when you see a political party decimating its own support base and structures the way Zanu PF did with the ouster of Mujuru et al. It indicates that perhaps popularity alone is not what they are banking on to retain power.

It is actually scary and points to a possible return in full force of the politics of coercion and the use of violence and other unsavoury tricks to capture and retain political hegemony by Zanu PF.

Q: Mujuru has so far not publicly indicated if she will stand in 2018 but if she does stand will she change the political course?

A: Mujuru’s exit from Zanu PF is already changing the political landscape of Zimbabwe, and if she runs in 2018 these changes will only be amplified. She is a political force with a lot of social capital in Zanu PF, Zimbabwe, and internationally.

A lot will depend on how she decides to use this political capital. Mujuru is a beautiful political prospect who can either choose to say ‘I do not need a man to succeed politically in 2018’, and stands a fair chance of doing well for a first timer. But politics is not easy and familiarity and even popularity sometimes does not translate to votes let alone state power.

Her chances of significantly changing the political course of our country will depend on the amount of work that she puts in, the extent to which she organises, the timing of her availability to contest and her ability to convince those in the ruling party and those in opposition that she occupies the middle ground where the majority of the country is on issues.

Alternatively she can give her “political hand” to someone, boosting that someone’s chances of triumphing in 2018. A mere political ‘marriage’ will again not be enough, work has to be invested on, not just a ground game, but also a technical game that ensures that winning the most votes translates to electoral victory without the technical impediments to same that the State has been accused of in the past.

Q: Can the Zimbabwe electoral culture allow a contest involving President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai as candidates?

A: Such a race would be a political scientists’ wet dream, a true test of popularity between arguably three of four of Zimbabwe’s leading political pretenders. I think the electoral culture does not foreclose such a contest, and in many ways it would answer the question of the impact and the extent to which Mujuru settles and unsettles the support base and infrastructure of the two leading political protagonists.

If these three run, and the result is as inconclusive as it was in 2008, then Mujuru possibly becomes a real power broker possibly Kingmaker depending on how she fares or becomes queen herself.

Q: What are the chances of Tsvangirai allowing Mujuru to lead a coalition given the popularity of the MDC leader?

A: At the moment, the question should be why should Tsvangirai allow Mujuru to lead a coalition given his popularity?

Morgan Tsvangirai has an established support base, which can be calculated using perception surveys and more importantly previous performances in elections. Mujuru’s support is perceived and a matter of conjecture.

Whether Morgan Tsvangirai can allow Mujuru to lead a coalition depends on when this question is posed and the type of coalition at play. Is it a pre-electoral or electoral pact/coalition or is it a run-off based electoral pact/coalition? If it is before Mujuru has featured in an electoral contest, I doubt Tsvangirai would yield, but if it is post an electoral contest which is indecisive and Mujuru either leads or doesn’t lead but is part of a set of three of four candidates who need to put their support together to defeat Zanu PF, perhaps then the possibilities of Tsvangirai yielding become higher.

Q: What would be the best way of healing the rift between Tsvangirai and some of his progressive colleagues such as Lovemore Madhuku, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, who hold serious differences with him?

A: The best way of healing rifts between Tsvangirai and his erstwhile colleagues who lead opposition parties are to forgive and for everyone to subordinate himself or herself to a cause that is bigger than themselves.

It is clear that Tsvangirai, Madhuku, Biti and Ncube carry deep hurts embossed on each other by themselves, hurts deep enough to part ways and exist separately. Without forgiving each other of these sins of the past, and without subordinating themselves to a cause bigger than themselves no healing of these rifts will take place.

If it doesn’t, it is still a good thing, people do need options amongst the opposition, it just makes it that much harder for the opposition in its different formations to prise power away from Zanu PF, but it can be done, if one of them emerges with a clear programme and establishes phenomenal organisation on the ground, coupled with astute technical awareness.

The real challenge is that such abilities are seldom found in one leader, so the strengths around organising are wasted in the absence of technical awareness and political judgment and astuteness.

Comments (17)

And of course why should Tsvangirai allow Mujuru to lead. Tsvangirai is more popular than Mujuru .

Big Meech Larry Hoover - 26 May 2015

Mujuru and Tsvangirai join hands. then after a few months you will quarell i knw and they will be another split again strengthening Zanu pf

wind - 26 May 2015

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Mujuru is not popular she got the VP post as a thank you for having bonked Solomon in the bush in Moza . She does not have brains that she can lead this country .The country does not want a president who rose to power through sex . she is so lazy that she can not even open her mouth and condemn zanu for firing her , She does not know where she is going politically . The woman is so confused such that at one time she nearly cost us of econet by refusing to grant the company a license . She even insulted the father of this nation and now she has been cursed bcoz of not respecting elders as you can see she was chased away from govt like a smelling sick mugodoyi .

Diibulaanyika - 26 May 2015

Mujuru can not stand against Tsvangirai. She only has many sympathisers, who are mostly MDC, and the majority of the few ZANU supporters. Come election time, you will realise this. People have not totally forgotten the suffering they endured in the hands of some gamatox elements like Mutasa, Jabu, Temba, Munacho etc. Get it from ini mubocha.

mubocha - 26 May 2015

tsvangirai will never allow that because he is mora familiar than that lady

jojo - 26 May 2015

when it comes to leadership Mujuru is far much better than tsvangirai

wind - 27 May 2015

tsvangirai ndiwo mamwe wo mabasa ataka zvivambira. he is now a disturber. his legitimacy ended at the expiry of his third term as president of the mdc t. people are now realizing that he has dictatorial tendencies especially after he doctored the mdc constitution so that he can overstay beyond the initial mandate. more so, of late he has adopted a strategy of purging dissenters just like any other dictator. zimbabweans have come to know that he will be a worse dictator if trusted with power. the best he can do for himself and the country is to pass the baton to another within the mdc t.

zvirozviyedzwa - 27 May 2015

Mai Mujuru is definitely a force to reckon with like it or don't. The whole nation was in turmoil because of a woman. Grace and Opah were running helter skelter because of one woman. Ane bhora ndiye anomakwa. People don't talk about nobody's. Joyce is a somebody.This just goes to show how much power she wields. She has the potential to become this nation's next president.

emmma kajawu - 27 May 2015

Morgan is moreee.Mujuru aita mwana just ask gushungo kuti vakaitwa sei march 2008

Atembo pa Rwere,Chiweshe - 27 May 2015

We all have potential to rule the country, the question is are we able? Let allow for new blood. the ideology that is centred around political freedom that came as a result of bla bla has destroyed the nation. agree with me the war was not fought to turn Zimbabwe into a shame it finds itself in. A nation of vendors and disorder. God heal ou Nation and hear our Prayers

Pacman - 27 May 2015

Grace says Mujuru lost the VP nomination to Mnangagwa within zanu but was catapulted by Bob to the position ahead of Mnangagwa. If Tswangirai or MDC of whatever shade submits itself under the leadership of a failed Zanu politician that will be a travesty to Zimbabwe's politics. Why is this paper so keen to have Mrs Mujuru playing a leading role when she is taking cover and eating her ill gotten gains? She remains fiercely loyal to Bob, which shows you the magnitude of the rot. She is not fit for office.

Lt General - 27 May 2015

Tsvangirai may be having gravy leadership problems but to suggest Joice can take his place only serve to confirm my fears: the daily news has been highjacked.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 27 May 2015

Popularity of one leader does not that other leaders are not popular. Be advised that our beloved Joyce Mjuru is a force you cannot ignore. Many brothers were expelled, some sisters are abused and raped all done in the name of cleansing the PARTY from mujuruism.

Sibanenge Hlalani - 28 May 2015

That will be polical miscarriage to appoint with anoint someone who is more scared of her life than those who sacrificed it for the people of Zimbabwe. Tsvangson has been possessed by serious weakness, but he has pros to reckon as well. this gamatox woman is coiled up at her farm and is appearing as if the president has done more justice than evil to the nation of zimbabwe. political maturity involves standing up for justice so that even if dirty consequences are applied on you, you will have a legacy to leave .

Masola wamiruki - 28 May 2015

Tsvangirai panyanga come 2018.mai mujuru ngavabatsire Save kubisa mugabe ndovane madhiri ese ezanu.

Chitsiga - 29 May 2015

Why shd Tsvangirai make way for Mujuru? impossible Save is larger than life. He has proved it time and again. Mujuru shd be the no unlock Zanu's rigging mechanism. That wld guarantee her a VP post until Save retires

Dr. Tichy - 2 June 2015

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