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'Mugabe must not be part of 2018'

18 Jul 2016 at 13:45hrs | Views
Tajamuka/Sesjikile, a grouping of political parties and ordinary Zimbabweans, has vowed to ramp up pressure on President Robert Mugabe to quit office before the 2018 elections and in this instalment its spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi tells senior assistant editor Guthrie Munyuki that it has the capacity to bring to an end the nonagenarian's political career.

Below are the excerpts of the interview.

Q: Who is Tajamuka/Sesjikile and how big is the group?

A: Tajamuka/Sesjikile campaign is a peaceful campaign largely of young people but generally everyone.

The campaign is made up of 14 political parties and well over 30 organisations, including the Diaspora where you have seen corresponding demands as the ones we are making here.

We are a lawful and peaceful campaign but our lawfulness and peacefulness should never be mistaken for weakness or cowardice. We will do everything permissible in a democratic society to restore governance sanity in the country.

Q: You have made demands for Mugabe and given him an ultimatum of August 31, how equipped are you to force his resignation if he fails on these demands?

A: We are equipped with the numbers and the support of the citizens who demand that he steps down now and allow the country a fresh impetus. This is a non-negotiable demand. ...Mugabe has become a sticking point to the country's progress and reform agenda. He must pave way for a transitional process to allow the country to move forward.

Q: Why are you not prepared to wait for 2018 elections to get rid of Mugabe because as it is, he is constitutionally-elected?

A: We are not prepared to wait for 2018 because of the speed with which things are deteriorating and obviously the advanced age of ...  Mugabe is a big factor in this. We are not convinced that he still has the ability to supervise the rigorous affairs of the State, more so in a crisis situation that we are having now.

Secondly, his defiance shows that he has already crossed the red line and reached a point of no return. Thus, his pride would not allow him to make the bold decisions that the country needs to unravel itself from this crisis. It's very important for ... Mugabe to retire immediately, so that the remaining time between now and 2018 is used to implement the crucial reforms that will not happen while he is still there.

His recent remarks at the Heroes' Acre where he told the international community to go to hell shows clearly that he  is not in touch with the global village that we now live in.

Our economy needs to be globally-connected and competitive for this country to survive and thrive as in the global context that we now live in. It is clear that... Mugabe does not understand this imperative point.

Being globally-competitive does not in any way compromise our sovereignty or territorial integrity as erroneously argued by the president over the last decade.

In fact, a globally competitive economy will strengthen our voice and pride as a country, thus increase our capacity to defend and deepen our sovereignty etc.

Q: What should happen, going forward, if say, you succeed in having Mugabe leave office?

A: An inclusive transitional authority should be put in place to deal with the outstanding issues of institutional, economic and political reforms.

These would put the country on a solid footing to begin to compete effectively and reboot its own economy.

The transitional process should ensure that the country's electoral environment is sorted out. Zec, voters' roll etc.

Q: If Mugabe leaves office, via whatever means, still Zanu-PF, the incumbent party, will retain the presidency, will that serve your purpose?

A: It is not who comes in that matters, it is what is to be done to correct the wrong path that the country is currently going towards. What is important are the reforms that need to be instituted immediately and to ensure the 2018 elections are held under transparent and fair conditions and that the winner of that election is both legitimate and undisputed.

Q: You have been quite active in organising recent protests; do you think Zimbabwe is ready for an Arab Spring like revolution?

A: Zimbabwe is not ready for an Arab Spring. Zimbabwe is ready for a Zimbabwean spring. Our processes although inspired by other successful revolutions, are actually informed and determined by the country's own contextual circumstances.

Q: This government doesn't treat citizens' demonstrations with kid gloves as evidenced by recent arrests and beatings of protesters, are you not afraid of becoming another victim?

A: We are not afraid at all. We are well aware of the lawfulness and peacefulness of our processes. We know that the government has a tradition of criminalising and delegitimising citizen's genuine concerns and we are here to undo all that terrible legacy and show the people that this is a free country where people should be permitted to air their views and participate in public processes.

We are appealing to the police to understand that these protests are for the good of the country and totally lawful.

They should not treat people in the manner they have been doing in the last weeks.

Q: Mugabe's government accuses you - pro-democracy groups - of being used by a third force, is this a fair accusation and what is it that is galvanising you?

A: That is an unfair accusation by a government that has totally lost touch with reality and that presupposes that its citizens have no agency of their own or capacity to initiate their own protests.

It is unfortunate that the government underestimates its people so much that everything they do has to have an external hand and the people cannot do anything for themselves by themselves.

The citizens are doing these things by their own initiative and these initiatives are NOT funded or initiated or supported by any external forces except for the Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora who are totally entitled to do so under the new Constitution.

Q: A lot of people have given credit to Pastor Evan Mawarire and believe he is the new face of Zimbabwe's revolution, does this revolution have ownership?

A: He deserves the credit. He has done a lot of ground-breaking things. But this revolution is not new and has no owner. It is the people's revolution.

Q: Citizens engagements and organisation of these protests have led to beliefs that opposition political parties are now being led by ordinary citizens in pressing for reforms and political change. Is this a fair assessment of the current situation?

A: It doesn't matter who is leading who and who gets what credit. What matters now is the coordination of all democratic forces and movements to put their efforts under one hat and help drive Mugabe and his Zanu-PF out.

Q: Are we likely to see a new government before 2017 and who will, in all probability, based on your actions as protesters, likely be president?

A: We certainly would like to see a transitional authority by 2017 without... Mugabe of course - made up of all forces and working towards the crucial reforms that I have highlighted.

Who leads it is purely the prerogative of the people to determine, and this ideally should happen in 2018 under fair and transparent electoral conditions.

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