via My hands are clean: Tsvangirai – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 8, 2015
A LOT has been happening in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s (MT) MDC-T party, his life and the state of the nation. Last week NewsDay reporter Moses Matenga (ND) engaged him over a wide range of issues including the controversy generated by his continued stay in a government house.Below are the excerpts of the interview;
ND: Since the end of the inclusive government in 2013, the economic situation has deteriorated and life for many Zimbabweans has gotten worse. As opposition party leader who had a stint in that inclusive arrangement, how do you feel about the current state of the nation?
MT: My view is there is a glaring contrast between the GNU (Government of National Unity) days and this current doom and gloom. It’s very painful that, whereas we should have had a positive trajectory taking off from the contribution of the GNU, we have actually sunk to even a greater precipice.
ND: What then do you think should be done to save the country?
MT: We need comprehensive reforms, political and economic reforms that will bring sanity to the ongoing prevailing stalemate. Our problem has never been fundamentally economic; our problem has been the political stalemate that has characterised the policy framework for the country to have the confidence outside and even confidence in the country. What we need is a resolution of this ongoing political stalemate and the legitimacy questions post the 2013 elections. You notice that the dispute has been about the legitimacy of the 2013 elections and as long as the dispute remains unresolved, no one will have confidence in doing business with Zimbabwe.
ND: How do you think, therefore, that problem of legitimacy will be solved?
MT: First of all we have to agree. We have to agree that, if before 2008 GNU, Global Political Agreement negotiations, we were in a similar position, what stops us in going back because it’s nothing new? We resolved the political stalemate, we went into government to tackle the critical national questions. However, this time around, because of the dishonesty and lack of sincerity that we experienced during the GNU, we are no longer talking about the GNU; we are talking about going to a process that restores that legitimacy — which is a free and fair election.
ND: You are on record suggesting that you will not participate in an election that is not free and fair. Zanu PF failed to implement reforms when you were part of government and indications are that they will not reform and grant your wish just like that, do you have an alternative in case Zanu PF digs in?
MT: Our basis has never been the benevolence of Zanu PF to give us an ideal electoral process. They say necessity is a mother of all inventions. It is necessary that the electoral outcome must not be disputed. The electoral playing field must be free and fair, whether Zanu PF likes it or not, unless, of course, they want to continue on this slide into oblivion, then they will continue on that path that is a self-destructive path and unsustainable. We are not begging Zanu PF; we are saying it’s necessary for the country to move forward.
ND: But do you have the means to ensure reforms are implemented or you have resolved to get to the next elections under the current environment after which you will then cry foul again?
MT: The role of government is not to provide chaos, it is to provide stability. The more we are deeper in this crisis, the more we create an environment for chaos and one hopes Zanu PF will avoid the chaotic situation because its responsibility is to provide stability and by the time we go to the next election, it would have dawned on Zanu PF that you can’t be speaking with a forked tongue on one hand without reforms and you want to continue controlling. We have to have reforms to ensure there is no absolute control by one party. In the case of Zanu PF, they can’t have it both ways, they have to choose.
ND: Recently, people were waiting anxiously for a “life-changing” State of the Nation Address by President Robert Mugabe. What do you make of the address to the nation?
MT: As I anticipated, President Mugabe has this habit of constantly confirming the sceptics. There is nothing that I thought was going to come out of his State of the Nation Address and it confirms it was reproduction of the same rhetoric and no inspiring plan to deal with the current crisis in the magnitude.
ND: Does Mugabe and Zanu PF have what it takes to move this country out of the economic malaise?
MT: I think let’s be fair, the man is under siege, his government is very unstable because of the internal machinations taking place. The economy is imploding in his face and the international community is not showing signs of accommodating Mugabe and Zanu PF because of his advanced age.
Unfortunately, age is a factor, but it just goes to show that the world has moved on from the rhetoric of imperialism and anti-white rhetoric and all that. Even the Chinese, long considered to be on the side of Zanu PF, don’t find the economic platform in Zimbabwe attractive. So I wish he could break away from his mental state, it’s just an arrogant way of saying we will go it alone, but while you are sinking, you don’t want help from anyone.
ND: Don’t you think this is the right time to engage Zanu PF and if you are invited for talks, will you compromise like you did then?
MT: In 2008, we put people first before even our own political considerations. We believed in the right of transition, but unfortunately we were disappointed in that Mugabe was not sincere. We helped the people, but we also helped Zanu PF survive. Now we can’t go into a situation where we will help rescue Zanu PF again. It is Zanu PF that has to understand that you invite people to help you, but you say you go it alone, but you know you can’t go anywhere.
You go into overdrive to rig an election against all odds, against even advice from Sadc.
So when you invite us, first and foremost, we are not going to reject any discussion, but it must be based on principle and the principle is we have to implement reforms and once all the reforms are there, we can then talk of an election that has to produce a government that has a full mandate nationally and internationally.
ND: There is talk of convergence of all democratic forces to unite and fight Zanu PF. Given the amount of bad blood among the so-called democratic forces now, will you play any part in such?
MT: It’s not a new philosophy, in January 2015, I addressed people and predicted that given where we are going, and there is no way Zanu PF can help us, what is needed is national dialogue and agree on 10 key issues that I thought would form the basis of national convergence. Well, it is now several months and people are talking of convergence which I articulated then and precisely because Zanu PF remains arrogant, it’s difficult to have a genuine conversation with a party that believes in being in power by inheritance.
ND: Coming to your MDC party, we hear all is not well. There is serious infighting and disunity at the moment. Do you think given the state of the party currently, you can pose a serious challenge to Zanu PF?
MT: I am the captain of the ship and I can tell you the ship is very steady in spite of the noises that you may hear among the passengers. The ship is steady, there is resurgence of the party, there is common understanding that the MDC-T is the only hope we can invest in for an alternative to this Zanu PF misrule and lack of leadership. This country needs total transformation.
ND: Some comrades you have worked with have deserted you, they have gone to form their own political parties saying you are the problem and accusing you of exhibiting some dictatorial tendencies. Do you feel you are the problem as they argue?
MT: If I was the problem, why do you then move out and form a party? Does that solve anything? And if I was a problem, why then do you go and split further beyond the MDC big tent approach? Even if there is divorce in a marriage, there will be accusations and counter accusations, anyone can find an excuse. If they are committed to the transformation, the strategy is not to further splinter, the strategy is to unite everyone so that you can actually defeat Zanu PF or else what we can conclude is you are splintering to maintain the status quo. Eventually that will happen because you are maintaining Zanu PF hegemony because you can’t confront Zanu PF if you are not united. Zanu PF can only survive because the opposition thinks as individual little parties we can defeat Zanu PF, which is impossible. What we should be talking about is uniting all opposition parties together and agreeing on a plan.
ND: The issue of your Highlands house, a lot has been said that you are compromised because you are refusing to vacate a Zanu PF house, hence you are tied up and can’t raise a finger against Zanu PF misrule. Do you subscribe to the notion that you have been compromised by your continued stay in that Highlands house?
MT: Well, in politics, people will always find excuses. That is the issue with the Highlands home. I have answered that position very clearly: I am not compromised because of the house. It is my right to be there.
Unfortunately, people want to misconstrue that as a political weakness and that is their choice, but my conscience is very clear and my articulation of national grievances has never been compromised. There is my money there, give me my money and I go. I have many other houses to go and stay in, what’s so special about that particular one?
Recently, they ransacked my home, but what were they looking for? They wanted to search my papers for any linkages between me and other political actors I will not mention, but you can’t just come into somebody’s house and make excuses of that nature. It had nothing to do with that Sherriff; it was just a security issue.