via ‘Leadership renewal only way to save MDC’ – DailyNews Live 24 FEBRUARY 2014
MDC deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma talks to Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki.
Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: How do you intend to continue with MDC activities in the aftermath of your assault?
A: The MDC was formed in 1999 as an avenue to achieve democratic change, socio-economic transformation and to extricate the people of Zimbabwe from poverty and deprivation. The MDC was also formed to fight for people’s freedoms, including freedom of association and freedom of expression, in a tolerant society.
These freedoms are well captured in the party constitution, in particular article 4.6 which says “the MDC firmly believes in freedom of speech, freedom of expression and further, the free circulation of ideas and information within the movement”.
It is clear to me that the people who perpetrated this violence on me have support from the president and some senior members of the party.
These few individual have deviated from the original party values and this is regrettable.
In terms implementation of programmes and carrying out of activities, my view is that the party will not be able to function normally until the president returns to constitutionalism. My main focus now is to get the party back to constitutionalism, desist from violence and intimidation, and to follow proper procedures.
Q: What led to the assault?
A: Ever since I submitted the letter to the president in private, he has not found it important to respond to the issues I raised therein.
This letter was leaked to the press by someone other than me, and the president acknowledges this.
Instead they are using the leaking of this letter to develop a well-orchestrated plan to vilify and physically assault me.
The assault is to silence those who are insisting on returning the party to its original values, rather than serving the interests of a few individuals in leadership positions.
Q: Your president Morgan Tsvangirai has denied setting you up for the assault.
For the record what really transpired and why did you come to the conclusion you had been set up?
A: In the first instance, the president called for a meeting outside constitutional party organs, whose sole purpose was to incite and whip emotions against me.
In addition, some youth were bused to the venue of the meeting and were given beer with an intention to assault me.
It is well known that prior to the Saturday meeting, other meetings were held, including for Harare province at which Morgen Femai in the presence of Nelson Chamisa verbalised that I should be beaten.
After the meeting, the president, went down to disperse these youths. His message had three main issues, that the meeting had been finished and they should now disperse. (What business did they have to do with the meeting?), that the issue of Mangoma will be dealt with internally and iii) that they should attend the rally the next day.
There was no message of non violence delivered by him and these youths did not disperse. He later offered to go with me in his car.
When we got out he was in front, then he stopped and the youths started assaulting me.
One asks; has he lost control of the youths and the party for me to be beaten right in front of him?
Q: Why did you delay reporting your assault to the police?
A: I felt that it was necessary that I needed to collect accurate information on my assault.
At the same time, I was sure that my party, which claims to have zero tolerance to violence, would take decisive action against the perpetrators including reporting the perpetrators to the police.
To this date I am unaware of any action that has been taken against the known perpetrators.
As you are also aware, the president’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, issued an inaccurate and contradictory description of how I was assaulted.
Q: What remedy does a police report provide you in the current storm?
A: The police have a constitutional obligation to protect citizens from criminal activities.
Q: Have you thought of the backlash from those opposed to you in the event that there is a police raid at Harvest House in light of this?
A: We in the MDC have nothing to hide from anyone. I do not know or prescribe how the police work, but I do not see any reason for them to raid Harvest House as none of my assailants live or work there.
In this event, why would police raid Harvest House over rowdy and drunk youths who are stationed outside Harvest House, the scene of the crime, and have completely nothing to do with party operations?
Q: Could this be signalling the end of trust in Tsvangirai that he can use internal disciplinary measures to punish those who assaulted you?
A: The president created an atmosphere that was conducive to the assault of party leadership who disagree with him.
An environment unsuitable for free deliberation and exchange of ideas by delegates was also created.
He has an opportunity to redeem his credentials of not tolerating violence by acting swiftly on the perpetrators.
It is not what he says, but what he does which is important for the trust to be restored.
Q: Are you going to resign from the MDC and if not what options are there for you to remain in the party?
A: No. The MDC was not created for the sole benefit of any individual but for the democratisation agenda of Zimbabwe.
These principles and values remain the same regardless of individuals deviating from them.
I will not resign from the party because those in the leadership including the president have acted in a manner that is contrary to our party principles as enunciated in our constitution and as formulated at the National Working Peoples’ Convention.
It is these individuals that must return to the constitution of the party. I fight for democracy and subscribe to the values of the party. No one should give in to those who want to split the party to avoid the critical and necessary questions to be asked and answers provided.
Q: Clearly, you guys are divided; how do you intend to patch up the rift and work for the good of your party?
A: Divergent views do not necessarily mean division.
The fact that there are a few individuals who have contravened the constitution and are abusing their official positions does not mean we are divided. Debate on critical national and party issues must be allowed.
Q: What is the way forward for you and those seeking leadership renewal?
A: Like any democratic institution the evaluation of the leadership and its performance is a crucial component for its survival.
Whether or not there are people calling for leadership renewal, the evaluation of the leadership must be conducted without delay.
If you look at the questions I raised in my letter, they question critical issues around his leadership credentials.
For example, I raised the questions of how the house issue has compromised the president. How the issues of women have dealt a heavy blow to Tsvangirai’s credentials.
I also raise the issue of lack of confidence in the MDC and how the same needs to be resuscitated before the next elections.
If you zero in on the issue of reforms, as espoused by the GPA, and the issues that were forwarded to the principals either for further negotiations or implementation, it is clear that our leadership was found wanting and my questions remain pertinent.
On the way forward, we are a democratic party guided by principles and values.
A congress, which is the party’s supreme decision-making body, is the only body with the mandate to resolve leadership issues.
Congress must be held to evaluate leadership performance and map the way forward.
For me, leadership renewal is the only way to save this party and ensure victory in 2018.