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'Mwonzora's MDC is too broke to hold an elective congress'

14 Nov 2022 at 05:16hrs | Views
MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora stands accused of delaying the party's elective congress. NewsDay (ND) chief reporter Taurai Mangudhla interviewed MDC Alliance presidential spokesperson Lloyd Damba (LD) on the party's delayed congress, finances and strategy for 2023.

ND: You have recalled councillors and legislators effectively dividing the party. What is the strategy behind the recalls?

LD: Looking at the issue of recalls, we are not recalling councillors and MPs who are bona fide members of the MDC Alliance but those members who left to form or join another political party. Under the laws of this country if one joins or forms a political party other than the political party that sponsored them into office automatically they would have recalled yourself.  So, there is no division since individuals have a constitutional right to form or join political parties of their choice.

The issue of strength in numbers must be referred to those that have chosen to leave the party that sponsored them into Parliament and form a new party.

On the issue of regret, we do not because it is the law and secondly, it's not the first time that the MDC has recalled rebellious MPs and councillors. Under the leadership of (the late) president Morgan Tsvangirai, the party recalled Tendai Biti, Solomon and Paul Madzore and 19 others after forming what they called MDC Renewal Team. Then under the leadership of Nelson Chamisa, the party recalled Thokozani Khupe and 4 others in 2018 and under president Thokozani Khupe the party recalled Thabita Khumalo, Chalton Hwende and several others.

ND: A lot has been said about congress, with some accusing you of delaying out of fear or until you get government funds to fight perceived enemies?

LD: It's funny that the people who make the accusations of fear in delaying the congress also provide the correct answer of non-availability of funds to transport 10 000 delegates for the congress!

ND:  How material is the government funding to the welfare of your party and 2023 election campaigns given that some insiders claim the MDC is broke?

LD: Government funding is not adequate for any political party and parties have to resort to subscriptions and donations from their membership to run on a day-to-day basis going towards 2023.

ND: Has there been any indication when this government funding will be disbursed?

LD: I have no precise date at the moment but it's any time soon.

ND: Related to that, when is your congress?

LD: We will hold our congress as soon as all our structures are in place and the resources are available to transport congress delegates to the venue. At the moment we cannot afford to have a seamless congress process.

ND: The media has been awash with news that the party secretary for projects Norest Marara wants to challenge the current MDC leader at congress. Is there any truth to it and what is your response?

LD: It has never been our culture for any single individual to nominate themselves to any particular position in the party. I saw on social media that he declared his candidature for the position of party president, but I doubt if he is qualified to stand for that position or any other position in the national standing committee because one needs to have been in the party structures for a continuous period of five years.

The current structures are those built on the remnants of the 2014 congress structures which we used at our extraordinary congress on December 27, 2020, but Marara was not part of these structures, only that he was sympathetic to the MDC through his friendship with our late leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Now if friendship with our late leader is the constitutional qualifying factor then definitely he is qualified.

ND: When did Marara officially become a party member?

LD: It was only in October 2020 that he volunteered to join president Mwonzora's campaign team which was called the Donkies and that is how many people, myself included, got to know him in political circles. From the records he has produced on social media for everyone to see, he only applied to be a member on August 16, 2022, and he paid his backdated subscriptions. On January 10, 2022, when he wanted to be allowed by his Harare Central District to contest for Parliament he had to pay a candidate fee to the National Elections Directorate of US$100.

Now if you go by his narrative, then it means he is not even supposed to be spoken of as a candidate because he is not qualified. One can only become a member after he has been admitted into the party and his admittance into the party as per his records is August 16, 2022, and for the past 22 years, he has not been a member but a sympathiser. We will be happy to invite you, members of the media, to inspect the records because they are still in our vaults and the same was used for the 2020 extraordinary congress.

ND: Besides Marara, other names have been thrown around, including national chairpereson, Morgan Komichi. Has there been any formal interest? What is the attitude of the MDC leadership on Mwonzora being contested?

LD: We have read that in the media, but Senator Komichi has experience in our congress processes hence the reason why he might be waiting for the congress to nominate him and kick-start his challenge which he may accept or reject. Anything outside this is alien to our way of conducting a congress.

As for the attitude of the majority of people of the party, having a congress is positive and it's not just focusing on president Mwonzora because our party organs and leadership are not narrow-minded to focus on an individual but they are focusing on rejuvenating the party by coming up with people and pro-poor policies as we focus on the 2023 general elections.

ND: Going into 2023, what is the party's strategy for elections? What's the selling point?

LD: We have a watertight strategy but it cannot be a strategy if it's in the public domain.

ND: May you kindly give a breakdown of the major thrust in terms of your economic, foreign and domestic policies?

LD: Our major economic policy will focus on employment creation but for that to happen we need foreign direct investment (FDI). If we are transparent on how we relate and handle national issues and we are democratic and abolish all the draconian laws that go well with bad governance.

This will certainly open up our borders to endless FDI. Our thrust will focus on reviving agriculture and we will also regularise and formalise small-scale artisan miners while putting strict controls to curb leakages as we diversify the economy.

ND: What is your assessment of Zimbabwe's political environment? Is it conducive to free, fair and credible elections? Which areas need reform?

LD: The situation in this country has never been conducive to holding free, fair and credible elections from as far back as 1985.

You will agree with me because every election brings with it death, violence, arson and rape. Each election has also resulted in the further isolation of Zimbabwe on the international stage resulting in further economic meltdown and this has resulted in Zimbabwe having to get a raw deal from rogue investors now taking advantage of our pariah State status. We also want equal access to all State media and officers serving in various institutions must change their attitude towards the opposition and remove this perception that if we take power we will purge them.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe
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