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Opinion / Interviews

'Punish Khupe attackers'

by Staff reporter
13 Aug 2017 at 13:07hrs | Views
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is facing an internal revolt after he signed an agreement to form an election pact with former Industry minister Welshman Ncube.

Senior MDC-T leaders from Matabeleland that included vice-president Thokozani Khupe, chairperson Lovemore Moyo and deputy secretary general Abedinico Bhebhe were assaulted allegedly by party youths after they boycotted the signing ceremony for the MDC Alliance in Harare on August 5.

Our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) spoke to MDC vice-president Engineer Elias Mudzuri (EEM) about the developments in the party and MDC Alliance's prospects in next year's elections.

Mudzuri backed Tsvangirai's handling of the coalition building process, but called for severe punishment of those behind the violence in Bulawayo. Below are excerpts from the interview.

EM: What is your reaction to the violence against MDC-T leaders who were assaulted in Bulawayo for allegedly having different views on the formation of the MDC Alliance? Is MDC-T living to its promise to bring democracy in Zimbabwe?

EEM: I will not condone any violence of any form in this country. Every Zimbabwean deserves to speak their opinion without being attacked.

But because of the culture everyone has learnt from Zanu-PF, we have a problem. Zanu-PF has taught us that you beat the next person in order for them to comply.

We have certain individuals who behave like that in the MDC and they need to be punished.

A serious punishment if possible. whoever denies others their freedom should be punished.

If our courts were working well, many people should have been punished, but it is not that way.

Corruption has taken over and if a motorist is arrested for a dysfunctional light, you hear the young ones saying, "why don't you just pay and [they will] allow us to pass"?

General [Solomon] Mujuru died and nothing has happened. There is nothing happening to earn the people's confidence that justice can be served and the same mentality has affected the opposition.

We should never condone what happened to VP Khupe and chairman Lovemore Moyo.

There is no need to attack someone, even if you don't agree with them. No matter what you think, even if you don't like something, we should tolerate each other's views.

We should refine our democracy so that it can cascade to the grassroots and this should start with central government.

We have a government that you cannot separate from Zanu-PF and we have a problem. That is what our children are mirroring.

EM: MDC-T has always maintained that it has defeated Zanu-PF in previous elections. Why are you going into a coalition now if you have the numbers?

EEM: The issue of a coalition is to make sure that the numbers come right. We are trying to accommodate different people and different thinking.  

EM: Some MDC-T leaders are said to be against the coalition because it will mean they lose their top positions. Do you have the same fears?

EEM: I have always said that whatever happens, you don't push people. It is about what people think about you.

No matter how much you fight, you won't get there if the people don't like you. I don't feel threatened because I know what the public thinks about me.

The threats only come when the people think bad about you, your capacity to think and get to do what the people want.

But if you don't do what the people want, you will be under siege.

I don't care who runs this country, as long as they do it right. If they do wrong then I care. We want politics that make everyone feel proud.

EM: Some claim Tsvangirai did not consult the party leadership enough before signing the MDC Alliance agreement. Is such criticism justified?

EEM: That can be correct that some people were not properly told of this, just as in a democracy that sometimes certain things do not get mentioned.

But what I want to say is they have all seen the work in progress. The idea has to cascade down to the grassroots.  Of course some feel they are not well taken care of, but to me, everything has been worked out.

EM: Do you think the MDC Alliance can win next year's polls without electoral reforms?

EEM: Personally, I am not even talking about electoral reforms.

Electoral reforms, yes, you will be lucky if you can get them because [President Robert] Mugabe will never give them [to us].

We will be wasting our time. Who will reform it for us, with [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Rita]Makarau and company, otherwise we are joking.

We have to find another method of taking power and the real method is to work alliances with people to make sure that the people vote in their numbers.

We called for BVR [biometric voter registration], and where is it?

By the time it comes we will have created another obstacle. If we try to use other means apart from elections, we will give Zanu-PF ammunition to kill us.

EM: What is your reaction to criticism that the opposition is now investing all its energies on building coalitions, reneging on its duty to encourage its supporters to register to vote?

EEM: To me, coalition  or no coalition, if you have not mobilised voters, you are wasting your time. You have to start mobilising voters well on time, like I said earlier on, it should not be a coalition of the elite but a coalition of the public out there.

Some people have never been in the rural areas, you can't be in the boardroom, you have to be with the people.

You have to talk to people at the village out there, from Dotito to Limpopo, Mwenezi, where people don't even know what a dollar is and they haven't even seen a bond note, some of us who are organised know that these are the areas to go and spend time at.

EM: What would you like to see being done differently in Zimbabwean politics?

EEM: The Zimbabwean politics is full of criticism for each other. If we could find a way of getting a template of leadership that we think is what we want and work on that template and say this is what we expect instead of just criticism.

No one is perfect, but those leaders get to be corrected to fit what is expected.

People are shaped through election and once there are free elections, no violence, no state-sponsored violence where some people who do wrong are arrested and some are not.

People do wrong and people do right, but we must shape ourselves towards a national agenda.

We must allow our children to inherit that form of government that is transparent, to get jobs on merit, to allow people to feel free in their own country.

We want a situation such as the one in South Africa where you hear [opposition leader Julius] Malema criticising the president freely. We want a situation where people are able to talk.

This is not happening. We are far from being a democracy and our democracy is all about personalities without looking at good corporate governance.

We are all stuck with one person, who is Robert Mugabe.some people say you cannot do this to Mugabe and so on. So many people have been to court [for criticising Mugabe].

This is not good. What I want to see is a different governance culture, where political parties are afraid of the people rather than their political leader.

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