SENIOR STAFF WRITER
NEW opposition leader, Douglas Mwonzora, pictured, says he will pursue a new type of politics that will see him seeking heightened interactions with both the ruling Zanu PF and other opposition forces.
Speaking to the Daily News in an interview yesterday, the highly-regarded senator and lawyer also reiterated that he would pursue dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF with a view to improving the lot of Zimbabweans.
This comes after Mwonzora took over the leadership of the main opposition MDC last weekend, following the party’s chaotic extra-ordinary congress (EOC) that was held in Harare to choose a substantive successor to the late political giant Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Of course, of course, it (working with Zanu PF and other political outfits) is the only sensible thing to do … We are already working with Zanu PF in Parliament. We are also working with Zanu PF as we oversee its ministries.
“Working with Zanu PF is different from working for Zanu PF. We want to establish a relationship that is respectful … business-like … professional and that benefits the Zimbabwean people.
“Zimbabwean people don’t benefit from dysfunctional fights … but we will take our responsibilities as the opposition and that is what we are going to do,” the self-assured Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“For us to get to a … GNU (new government of national unity) somebody must initiate it and usually that is done by the party that is ruling because the argument is that they are enjoying the mandate of the people … and the second thing will be the terms of the GNU arrangement.
“We are not interested in window dressing arrangements, but having said that, Zimbabweans did benefit tangibly from the GNU of 2009 to 2013,” he further told the Daily News.
“So, if that choice ever comes our way, we will weigh whether it is in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people.
“That would entail us going around the country hearing the views of … people, and listening to the organs of our party … Zimbabweans have always benefited from dialogue,” the Harare lawyer also said.
“In 1979, we ended … the liberation war with dialogue in Lancaster House which brought independence … civil war, the genocide in Matabeleland ended with the Unity Accord. That was dialogue.
“The 2008 and 2009 violence ended again with a discussion. So, there is ample historic evidence that dialogue does work.
“We want to pursue dialogue. What it will culminate in is another story. Sometimes it culminates in a GNU. Sometimes it culminates in an arrangement different from a GNU.
“But as long as … that GNU is in the best interest of Zimbabweans, it is welcome to us,” Mwonzora added.
Before Sunday’s EOC, Mwonzora and former interim MDC leader Thokozani Khupe had also hinted that the party would be amenable to forming a second GNU with Zanu PF.
“As the MDC, ever since we were formed (in 1999), we have always been for dialogue. We think that Zimbabwe’s problems can be resolved through dialogue.
“The problems of this country cannot be resolved through confrontation, acrimony, rancour and violence.
“So, yes, when the time comes, when the internal process is done and when our consultations are completed, you will see us calling for dialogue,” Mwonzora told the Daily News last month.
“There is enough historical evidence in this country to show that most of the problems and big issues are resolved through dialogue.
“The liberation war ended with dialogue. The Gukurahundi in Matabeleland ended when Zapu and Zanu signed that Unity Accord.
“In 2008, after Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai, we engaged in dialogue to resolve that national question. We will be always for dialogue, but internal process will have to be done first,” Mwonzora further said then.
In 2009, the late former president Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with the much-loved Tsvangirai, after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
The short-lived GNU was credited with stabilising the country’s economy, which had imploded in the run-up to those elections.
In those polls, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down. However, the results were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later confirmed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu PF.
In the ensuing sham presidential election run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed — forcing the former prime minister to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora says he would also be willing to work with other opposition parties, as part of efforts to have a united and effective opposition bloc.
“We want to unite everyone, starting with our own party. I am happy that within a space of two days we have been able to reunite our group.
“It is a record time by all standards and I’m very, very excited about that. Two days ago … Khupe and another set of leaders were saying things that I did not agree with, and maybe vice versa.
“Now, we are rightly speaking the same language within a space of two days. That means that we have the capacity to unite all our people,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“We will be discussing with our brothers and sisters in the other opposition parties, not for them to dissolve their parties, but for us to start working together.
“We do that by making sure that we forge a respectful relationship with them. Yes, we are a bigger party, I think we are the biggest measured by the number of MPs that we have.
“We have some parties who are numerically smaller than us. Those parties are also important because the wishes of the minority must also be considered in a democracy,” Mwonzora added.
λ Don’t miss Mwonzora’s full interview in the Daily News On Sunday this weekend.