BY VANESSA GUZHA
Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira has claimed there is “convergence” between the opposition MDC-T and the ruling party after Douglas Mwonzora called on the West to remove sanctions against Zanu PF leaders.
His comments came before Mwonzora and his deputy Thokozani Khupe on Tuesday joined Zanu PF senators in voting to approve Constitutional Amendment No 1, which gives President Emmerson Mnangagwa power to appoint judges, as opposed to having them appointed through public interviews.
Since 2002, the West — United States, the European Union and Britain — have maintained sanctions against the Zanu PF leadership and securocrats for human rights violations and allegations of electoral theft.
But yesterday, Mwonzora released a statement saying his party had abandoned politics of controversy in favour of dialogue, and insisted that sanctions were not serving their purpose.
“We observe that sanctions are being used to play away failures by Zanu PF and are not working to people’s advantage,” he said.
His position on sanctions is seen as a departure from the long-standing opposition position that sanctions should stay to push Zanu PF to reform and end human rights abuses.
“We have our responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe and not to individuals. We act in the best interest of Zimbabweans,” the former MDC Alliance secretary-general said.
“We are an opposition party and that’s all we are. We are responsible and polite but not weak. We believe in dialogue and not unnecessary confrontation. We are tolerant and respect the possibility of different views from ours.”
The MDC-T leader is battling accusations that he is a Zanu PF front to destabilise MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who came close to beating Mnangagwa in the 2018 general elections.
Charumbira on Tuesday praised Mwonzora for being “progressive”, giving more ammunition to critics who say the MDC-T is working in cahoots with the ruling party to decimate Chamisa’s MDC Alliance.
Debating in Senate on Tuesday ahead of voting on the proposed constitutional amendments, Charumbira said the MDC-T had “brought a new politics of convergence where Zanu PF and the opposition party were speaking with one voice”.
“However, the numbers are right for two reasons. As traditional leaders, we are a full complement, but the two political parties, from what I know and also heard in the corridors this afternoon, even if Zanu PF senators were short, the number was going to be fine because we are going to vote united, which is good for us as Zimbabweans,” Charumbira said.
“It is not about how many are from Zanu PF, the chiefs council or the MDC, we will go beyond 54. That is the spirit we need,” he said.
He added: “My second point is, in the past three weeks, surely in the Senate during debates Madam President, we have a totally new political atmosphere. It does not matter whether it is Zanu PF or MDC-T debating, there is convergence.
“You listened to the two Hon Senators, Hon Senator Morgen Komichi and Hon Sen (Jane) Chifamba, we will tell everyone that the nation is moving and we are united. We are listening to sweet debates. The acrimony which characterised previous politics is fading away and I want to thank Hon Sen Mwonzora’s party for what it is doing, muvengi osvoda (the enemy will be shamed). Please keep that spirit.”
Charumbira also said: “Lastly, there was a lot of noise around the judgment by the Supreme Court directing the MDC-T to hold elections. The Judiciary was criticised along partisan lines, but this afternoon, we stand tall and say those attacks were based on false grounds. Our Judiciary is independent. This is a good afternoon and it should be recorded that this happened on April 6, 2021. We meet here as a united Senate.”
Zanu PF politburo member Christopher Mutsvangwa in June last year told the party’s Mashonaland West provincial co-ordinating committee meeting that Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was using the courts that declared Chamisa an illegitimate leader of the opposition party to ensure that “MDC goes back to running by its constitution”.
During the Tuesday vote, 70 senators voted for the passage of the Bill that seeks to give the President power to appoint the chief justice, the deputy chief justice and the judge president without interviews.
Senators from both Zanu PF and MDC-T (Mwonzora, Elias Mudzuri and Khupe) and traditional leaders voted in support of the Bill.