After the recent ascendency of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is widely believed to be a Zanu PF reformist, people have been calling upon the opposition to up its game and focus on something more enticing to win over the electorate and avoid sinking.
By OBEY MANAYITI
NewsDay (ND) reporter Obey Manayiti recently caught up with MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa (NC) to talk about current changes in the country’s political terrain, mostly with more focus on the post-Robert Mugabe era.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
ND: We are now under the new leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, do you expect things to be any different?
NC: We are not under a new leadership, we are under a different leadership. The old cannot be new and the new cannot be old, so we are under a different leadership and not a new leadership.
The new leadership is coming and we have not seen change, we are under a transition and not change, change is coming and it has not yet come.
ND: Opposition parties are reported to be in sixes and sevens over the way forward since Mnangagwa’s takeover. The President is implementing exactly what you as opposition have been advocating for. Do you think you still have a chance to survive in Zimbabwe’s politics?
NC: Our pleasure and glory is not derived out of the paternity of policies that are implemented. Our pleasure is derived in the happiness of Zimbabweans, if they are happy we are happier because at the end of the day we want our masters to be happy and the masters are the people of Zimbabwe. So forget about the MDC-T, in any case, we are not in sixes and sevens. We have an inexhaustible bank of ideas and you can’t exhaust our reservoirs of wits and wisdom and we even want those ideas to help our colleagues in government, because we are an alternative and we still have alternative views in abundance. So what we are seeing is just a tip of an iceberg.
Yes, Zimbabweans have crossed the Red Sea, but they are yet to cross River Jordan to get to the new Zimbabwe that is Canaan.
ND: We have seen the deployment of soldiers everywhere and there are plans to deploy them more and more as proposed in the National Budget. Is this good for the country?
NC: It’s discomforting and it’s not desirable. Our soldiers always do a fantastic job to secure our country and are better off not being villagised or being thrown into the streets. We are proud of them for defending the country and being in the barracks, ready to provide the security of all the people of Zimbabwe.
ND: What of the new proposal that they supervise the borders?
NC: That ubiquitous involvement is worrisome and it’s also a vote of no confidence in the police, which is not good because we have a police that must attend to those civilian responsibilities and policing duties.
Soldiers are not supposed to, unless if there is a statutory instrument or an order by the President and explained to Parliament.
ND: Elections are coming soon …
NC: We will win those elections
ND: Are you satisfied with your preparations as the MDC Alliance?
NC: We are doing a lot and we will leave no stone unturned. In fact, we have done a lot in terms of reaching out to the people to make them register to vote and very soon we will be embarking on mobilisation programmes, visible programmes. We have been going nocturnal, sub-terrain, underground, but we are also over the ground and will be in the air very soon. We are going to paint the sky and ground red.
ND: Let’s get back to your demands for electoral reforms, are you still pushing for their implementation?
NC: We are still pushing for reforms and, more importantly, we need the credibility of the voters’ roll and the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec). In fact, we are worried that just eight months before the election, Zec chief (Justice Rita Makarau) resigns and it tells you a lot. There is a lot behind the scene, and that is worrisome and it doesn’t inspire confidence, so we need chlorination of Zec. The Zec secretariat is supposed to be independent and accountable, and those are the things that we want to see.
ND: There is fear that problems within MDC-T are going to affect the elections next year in a negative way?
NC: Which problems?
ND: Power struggles
NC: Dynamism and vibrancy is not a problem. This is a very active party with a very active leadership. The fact that we are big is not a problem and the fact that we are robust and alive is not a problem. Where there is life, there is bound to be dynamics. The tectonic plates are always going to move especially when it is a big earth, so what is your problem? As MDC-T, we are on the march to victory and come 2018, it’s a game changer, it’s our year.