9 August 2017
HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai is arguably Zimbabwe’s most enduring opposition
He has fought against Zanu PF since the MDC’s formation in 1999, and has
gone through thick and thin since then.
Our News editor, Gift Phiri, spoke to Tsvangirai at his exquisite mansion
in Highlands, Harare on Monday about the raft of challenges confronting
the MDC, his health and the on-going coalition talks. Find below excerpts
of the interview:
Q: President Tsvangirai, this is not making sense to me – the violence in
Bulawayo. There are people who are alleging that you sent people there.
Why would you send people to Bulawayo to go and disrupt an MDC meeting?
And the outcome dented your image and that of the party. Really, it’s not
making sense to me. What’s happening here?
A: I think let’s start from the first point. Why would I, after the
successful launch of the alliance, then send a team to go and damage that
credibility? Why do that? And naturally, how can I embark on violence
against my own leadership? Why should I do that? What do I benefit out of
that? I don’t benefit anything.
Q: But this Bulawayo meeting; were you aware of it and did you sanction
A: No. My understanding, because I talked to Moyo (interrupted…).
Q: To the chairman, Lovemore Moyo?
A: Yes, on the day we were supposed to meet. He said that he was not going
to come to the launch and I said, why? And,, of course, he made excuses,
but I said I understand you are having a meeting tomorrow, remember that
you cannot have a meeting, which is regional – we are a national party and
you know, as well as I do, that the resolution of the council regarding
the coalition was only taken last Friday. `Ah, no we are trying to explain
to people; people are unhappy’, (is all he could say).
I said, but tell me something: is there unhappiness about the strategy or
the process? Zvikanzi (and he said) no, no, no we are not opposed to the
strategy. We are just saying that we were not consulted properly. And I
said but this thing has been going on for a whole year, right? And we have
had so many meetings; adopting principles, giving me mandate and assigning
this team yema (of) negotiators to go and talk to the other opposition
parties right up to the conclusion.
And besides, this is work in progress because, one, we have not yet
concluded with vePDP (People’s Democratic Party) led by (Tendai) Biti
because they came late. Handiti. So that has been the process.
Q: Did madam Thokozani Khupe sent her apologies for skipping the launch?
A: No. If she did, I didn’t get it.
Q: Ok, so she just didn’t pitch up?
A: She didn’t pitch up, the three of them – madam Khupe, (Abedenico)
Bhebhe and Moyo. But look, even if they had reservations, one of the
things you don’t do is to engage in work avoidance. Handiti uri kuona (you
see). At a place of work, if you have a grievance, you work and then raise
Q: There is a grievance procedure?
A: Yes, so in this case the party has a grievance procedure. And I think,
internally, no one had closed them off.
But it meant as if there was so much division and yet we were trying to
engage with the provinces to see where their concerns were.
The negotiators were engaging the provincial leadership, like Matabeleland
South and Matabeleland North. In fact, I was surprised the other day; Mat
North was here and we had engaged (it’s leadership): So no one said that
even after (the) conclusion (of the alliance) there was no space for
further debate and further discussion because it’s an ongoing process.
Q: Madam Khupe has pronounced herself on this coalition that she is
opposed to it; that she doesn’t see any value in engaging some of these
officials. Are you still together with her? Now she is boycotting, and
alleging that you are behind this violence?
A: First of all, I deny this vehemently. Anyone who charges that I was
responsible for the violence because I don’t even know who was involved.
That’s why we are engaging investigators in the party.
We have assigned our arbiter-general to go and find out what happened, who
was involved. As I said in my statement today, ummmh, definitely the
perpetrators and those who were behind the perpetrators, we will have to
take them to task.
Q: You didn’t answer my question about madam Khupe. Are you still together
with madam Khupe?
A: You have to ask her. As far as I am concerned, she is still my vice
president. This process of coalition was never something, which was hidden
from anyone. This was a collective decision in the (National) Council.
There are clear resolutions on this matter.
Q: She says she doesn’t see the value in engaging some of these people . .
A: But that’s an argument out of the fact. That argument should be put
forward when a decision has not been made. Ehhh you engage in debate, you
put across your views, and if the majority says we are going to take that
decision, you go along with it. You don’t say because I don’t agree with
it, there is (no) consensus.
Q: But she is going public with her dissent. Isn’t this out of character?
A: Of course, it’s worrying. That defiance, that dissent is worrying for
the party. And I think a lot of people in the party are saying look . . .
, and we have our standing committee on Wednesday.
Q: This Wednesday?
A: Yes. We are going to say, look, ehhh, if you are opposed to the outcome
but the council has made a decision and they are moving forward because of
that policy position . . . it’s nothing personal. Ummmh, ummmh, so I don’t
want to go into detail. For me, the defiance may actually undermine the
confidence, you know, and the party. But for me, I am very confident this
process will go ahead.
Q: It will go ahead despite this turmoil?
A: I don’t even regard it as turmoil; I don’t regard it as turmoil at all.
Q: You regard it as what?
A: It’s just internal personal considerations, which have nothing to do
with the objective. The objective in building the coalition is to change
the lives of Zimbabweans.
We cannot be petty to argue about seats when the whole strategic objective
is to change the government, and you can’t change the government because
you have got seats.
The MDC has been in Parliament for all these years; we were controlling
councillors for all these years – nothing has substantively changed for
the people of Zimbabwe. That’s the whole objective of having a coalition;
it is to build on our strength, so that we are able to confront the Zanu
Q: But perhaps she gets a sense that she is being sidelined. Her views
don’t matter, that you have engaged other vice presidents.
A: No, no, no, let’s not go into that debate. It’s water under the bridge.
The issue of the vice presidents was resolved by the council and the
question of marginalisation, I think it’s, its, its . . . I don’t operate
that way. I am a very democratic person, and I am a very tolerant person.
The reason why some people take advantage of that tolerance is because
they see this as a weakness and yet that’s how you build a democratic
culture and democratic values.
Q: And Mujuru and Simba Makoni were conspicuously absent at the launch,
A: First of all, the only people who came to the event were people whom we
had negotiated with at a bilateral level. For a very long time, remember
that at the beginning of these bilateral negotiations, way back around in
the later part of 2016 and going into early part of 2017, we had given our
priority to negotiate with People First of which she (Mujuru) was a
leader. After the split, we stayed with her, alright, because for some
reason, we felt she had value to add. Ummmh, those negotiations did not
produce any results.
Q: Negotiations did not produce results?
A: No, in fact, it was a stalemate, a stalemate that then occurred.
Q: What was the deal breaker?
A: The deal breaker was on a number of things; the number of seats
available; the leadership of the coalition, and because of that, I said to
the negotiators, if you declare deadlock with her, then it’s now up to me
and her to sit down and decide. But right up to this moment, no deadlock
has been declared. So it’s almost like something that is hanging in the
Q: So how are you going to proceed?
A: There has to be a declaration of deadlock before we can, as leaders
come in. If she still feels there is room for negotiations, we are open to
Q: Do you think your engagement with Agrippa Mutambara, her erstwhile
colleagues, had anything to do with this?
A: She had her party; vanaMutambara had their party.
Q: But this is an offshoot?
A: It’s not an offshoot. If there is an offshoot, materially, that does
not matter because there was Zim People First before NPP (National
People’s Party). Which one is the offshoot?
Q: It’s the NPP
A: Aiwa, no no no, I don’t buy that. It’s you who is saying that. I’m not
saying there was an offshoot, there was a split and both parties belong to
the Nera (National Electoral Reform Agenda) group and both parties belong
to the Zinera (Zimbabwe National Electoral Reform Agenda) group so we
didn’t choose, it was not for us to choose.
Q: Some people feel there is disagreement between you and Mujuru over the
flag bearer post. Have these negotiations gone that far?
A: No, no, no, over flag bearer yei?
Q: The presidential candidacy.
A: I think let’s be realistic. And I don’t want to go in the media to
negotiate a position.
This is still subject to discussion and we put forward our views. It is
about who is the best candidate to win the presidential elections and they
Q: She claims she is the best, that she has liberation war credentials.
A: But the facts. This is not about war credentials. This is about the
best candidate. So I don’t want to go into those arguments. It’s like I’m
trying to negotiate in public.
Q: Why wasn’t (Simba) Makoni invited? He says he wanted to come.
A: Again, in the same vein, our negotiators approached Makoni.
Unfortunately, no meeting took place because we believed from the
beginning that the negotiations must start first and foremost as a
bilateral issue between us and this party, between this and this party.
Then once those parties have agreed on the major substantive issues, then
work on the multilateral agreement, which is then the launch that we did.
Q: Some people get a sense that the party is facing a critical funding
A: Well, I mean, we don’t go around saying we are filthy rich. We are a
party that has always survived on the generosity of our members. Yes, the
party needs finances; it needs more finances as we go towards elections.
But that does not mean that we are not going to raise the money – we are
going to raise the money.
A: Arghhhh, iwe (you, you, you). Ndikakuudza kuti (if I tell you . . .
(pauses). We are going to raise money for the election campaign. It’s up
to us to decide.
Q: Your spokesperson (Obert Gutu) claims government is refusing to release
money under the Political Parties Finance Act.
A: Of course, maybe this is sabotage from the government.
Q: You think this is sabotage?
A: Yes. When was the last time we got what is entitled to us? We have not
Q: So how are you going to proceed to ensure you get what is due to you?
A: We understand there are discussions that are going on. We hope we will
be able to secure a share of the money under the Political Finance Act.
Q: Quite substantial property has been attached by the Sheriff from
A: That was a fraud.
Q: It was a fraud! How come?
A: Because first and foremost, the fraud part you can go and get it from
the lawyers. We were actually in the High Court about the manner in which
that was executed.
Q: You mean you have appealed to the High Court?
A: No, no, we have gone to the High Court to say it was not procedural.
Q: In what way?
A: In the fact that Sally Dura; we don’t owe Sally Dura that kind of
Q: But it’s Sally Dura and 15 others.
A: No, no, but it’s Sally Dura who executed the thing, not (former MDC
director-general Toendepi) Shonhe. It’s Shonhe and 15 others. So how do
you come out of the 15 and say I am going to make a claim? You know, the
execution of that exercise was not procedural. So we have gone to court,
and there was a hearing the other day on the procedure in which this
matter was heard.
So hopefully it’s going to be concluded so that our property can be
Q: There are claims that you have decamped from Harvest House to this
place (Highlands). Is that true?
A: No, no, no, there is no truth in that. I was just in Harvest House, the
press conference was held here. The other day, when was this, the meeting
with the Mashonaland East provincial assembly. We are going there on
Wednesday for the standing committee. It’s convenient for me, but it
doesn’t necessarily mean that we have shut down Harvest House. All the
officers are operating from Harvest House, so what is the problem?
Q: Do they have furniture?
A: Ah come on. How do they work where when there is no furniture? You go
there and find out whether those people who are working there have
furniture or not.
Q: Otherwise how are you feeling?
A: No, I’m fine.
Q: You are still going through chemotherapy?
A: No I’m still under treatment. And as you can see, I am responding well
Q: I know it’s rough, I have gone through it.
A: Have you?
Q: Yah, yah. It’s really rough.
A: It’s really rough. You go through a period in which you sometimes
think, hey this chemo thing.
Q: The vomiting, the nausea, the side effects.
A: Yah yah, but inini I was so fortunate, I didn’t go through those,
vomiting and all that, no I didn’t.
Q: No, you didn’t go through those?
A: Vomiting and all that, no, no. No side effects?
Q: Really, you were blessed.
A: You know my hair just went out the other day. But I had stayed with my
hair for almost eight sessions.
Q: Is that so?
Q: You have done how many sessions now?
A: About 10, I think.
Q: That’s a lot, you must be at the tail-end now.
A: Yah. You just need to be.
Q: You look really good.
A: No, I’m fine, I’m fine. You too.
Q: But the cost is just too much, president Tsvangirai.
A: That is why people die. It’s totally unsustainable.