'Alliance ready for 2018 polls'

HARARE - MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and his Alliance partners head to White City Stadium today for the Bulawayo Alliance launch amid indications that some top MDC officials plan to boycott the event taking place in their own backyard.

An electoral alliance was consummated on August 5 at Zimbabwe Grounds, Highfield in Harare involving Tsvangirai’s MDC, Welshman Ncube’s MDC, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Tendai Biti, Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe (TZ), Agripppa Mutambara’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Mathias Guchutu’s Multi-Racial Christian Democrats and Zanu Ndonga.

The Daily News Production Editor Eddie Zvinonzwa spoke to the TZ leader, who is the Alliance’s spokesperson, on the Alliance as well as its preparedness for the 2018 elections. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: You are heading to Zimbabwe’s second largest city on Saturday (today) for the Bulawayo Alliance launch. Who are you expecting to attend?

A: We are having our Bulawayo Alliance launch on Saturday (tomorrow) at the White City Stadium at 10am. All Alliance partners are expected to attend. However, we are continuing to build the Alliance.

Other partners who want to join the Alliance can still come in and we should work together to remove Zanu PF. All alliance partners are committed to make this work.

As TZ for instance, we have been reaching out to our constituency updating our structures. Recently, we were in Mashonaland East updating them on the progress in as far as the Alliance in concerned.

However, all those who will be coming in will have to fit into the framework already in place. That will also be announced as soon as we are done with negotiations. Every Zimbabwean is welcome into the Alliance.

In fact, we would want to reach out to all to say let us come together and work together to remove (President Robert) Mugabe and Zanu PF from power next year.

Q: The launch of the Alliance brought so much excitement to crisis-weary Zimbabweans as the 2018 polls approach. As an Alliance, do you think you are prepared? 

A: As an alliance, we are very confident of the Alliance we have built to be able to remove Mugabe from power in 2018 and we have put in place the mechanisms, we are putting the administrative structures and systems that we need to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe, most importantly, have got confidence in the Alliance itself and they can vote for the Alliance. We also are building a strategy to ensure that when we win power we are able to take over. Those are issues we are very much aware and conscious of. 

Q: As partners in the Alliance, how are you fielding candidates in the election

A: What we have done in terms of power-sharing is that we have resolved and agreed to have one Alliance partner contesting every contestable seat in a particular constituency.

For example, if Transform Zimbabwe is contesting in Bikita East, that means all Alliance partners are supporting TZ in that constituency for MP. That also means for councillors, we are coming up with one council candidate for every ward.

We have agreed on one Alliance partner contesting for senatorial positions and of course, we have also agreed to have one presidential candidate as an Alliance. We have allocated seats to each of the Alliance partners.

A formula was developed which will be fully announced once the negotiations are done which has allocated seats to different Alliance partners to contest and all the Alliance partners will be supporting that particular party in that area.

Q: In other words you have already agreed on the presidential candidate?

A: Yes, we have agreed to have Morgan Tsvangirai as the presidential candidate for the Alliance.

Q: And talking about the 2018 elections, do you have any input in observing elections?

A: Of course, as political parties in terms of observing elections we have polling agents of election agents and we are also working with other organisations that traditionally monitor elections.

We have partners who have traditionally monitored and observed elections so, we are also helping them by providing them with information which is necessary on hot-spot areas to watch out for.

We will also have partners who are independent from the system who will be helping in monitoring those elections and we will be engaging members of the regional blocs and the international community who will be monitoring those elections and we are also working with other partners to make sure the election is properly observed.

Q: If Zanu PF then pulls back election dates, do you have a position as an Alliance?

A: Firstly, I would want to say Zanu PF just cant call for an election without ensuring that the necessary systems to run that election are in place.

We all know there is an obligation from the State to make sure that people are registered to vote under the BVR system.

In other words we want to develop a whole new voters’ roll with people providing their biometric details and we don’t see that process being completed early enough to hold an election as early as February.

So, we don’t expect them to call for an election without putting in place the administrative requirements in place. If they try to do that, that won’t be accepted by the people of Zimbabwe and also they have a constitutional obligation to make sure the election is within a specific time frame and so we expect all these things to be in place

If they try to shortchange that process they will hit a brickwall, we will resist that.

Q: You indicated earlier in the year that you would assist your membership who had difficulties acquiring identity documents. How far have you gone with that?

A: We were waiting for the mobile registration to start and on Tuesday, (Tobaiwa) Mudede made that announcement so we are making sure that those who registered with us to get IDs we will help them.

He also brew a shocker when he said if you have a metal ID you may not be able to vote we are going to challenge that in the courts.

If they have an old ID and they are registered in the BVR then they should be allowed to vote.

I am equally not sure but my understanding is that if you have a plastic ID your details are captured in the registration server.

If you have the new ID maybe their names already appear on the database It’s their responsibility as government to put all the people with metal IDs on the database.

Q: And if Zanu PF forge ahead with their plan?

A: In fact, we are encouraging people to register. But we will go on ad challenge that position in court.

Q: There is something we may not afford to ignore, the state of the economy.

A: The economy has gone to the dogs. Zanu PF has continued to kill the economy They continue to misplace their priorities. They are leaving the core things. You need to create investor confidence to rebuild this economy and there is absolutely no effort at all.

If you look at the scale of violence, it is frightening. You have a first lady who goes to SA and beats up an innocent girl   and to make it a circus they bus innocent youths to support the first lady in beating up an innocent lady in SA at a hotel.

They try to arrest her and she seeks diplomatic immunity and unfortunately she gets it. Who would want to invest in such an economy where the first lady goes to a foreign country and beats up an innocent woman?

The only way out of this quagmire for Zimbabwe is to vote Zanu PF out and restart this thing all over again in 2018 — rebuilding our economy and attracting investors. We can only make this country a jewel again if we vote Zanu PF out in 2018.

Q: Recently, Mugabe appeared on national television with a delegation from a Chinese firm Guangzhou R&F, which has intentions of injecting $1 billion into the revival of Ziscosteel. Does this seem to make any sense to you given the fact that the reasons for the collapse have remained untouched?

A:  What destroyed Zisco and parastatals at large was because of massive looting

They used parastatals to syphon public money. The issue of governance has not been looked into.

Corruption that led to the syphoning of money is still there and remains a top item of things that are affecting this economy.

The new investment will equally be looted as has happened before. There is no proper management and there is Zanu PF patronage in these organisations.

The same people who destroyed it are still there. As long as these people are still there, nothing will change. It won’t take us a couple of months before Zisco gets back to where it was.

Q: I remember fairly well that as National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera), you were fighting for electoral reforms. Have you registered any progress on the said reforms?

A: In terms of the electoral reforms we were fighting for as Nera, one of the key reforms we have achieved  is of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). Our understanding has always been that reform will not come cheap. Reform effectively will mean an end of the Zanu PF regime.

They will not give up power so easily,  BVR is on the way and it is one of the huge achievements we had as political parties under Nera.

We are also aware of the intentions of Zanu PF to scuttle the progress we have made and gains we have achieved. We are fully aware Zanu PF is trying to derail the gains we have registered as far as BVR is concerned. We are busy fighting to ensure BVR is properly implemented, which is what we are looking for.

Q: If Zanu PF were to renege on BVR, have you decided on the course of action to take as an Alliance in case that happens?

A: We will resist if Zanu PF were to go back on BVR. We will draw out all our weapons to resist that. We will demonstrate. We will oppose that.

But, of course, as an Alliance we will have to agree on our position. In other words, we are still ironing out on those issues on how we will respond to the various scenarios that are possible. When we have come up with a position we will make it known to the nation.

We are still in the process of agreeing on how we are moving and going to respond should things like that happen. But definitely we intend to resist any move by Zanu PF to move away from BVR because we know they are planning to do so and we will not accept that.

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