Former MDC-T policy advisor Eddie Cross recently resigned from active leadership positions in the Nelson Chamisa-led opposition party amid claims the veteran politician was turning his back on politics.
The big interview BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chamisa’s detractors claimed Cross was just one of many veterans disillusioned by the 40-year-old MDC Alliance presidential election candidate’s leadership style.
However, the former Bulawayo South MP was singing a different tune in an exclusive interview with The Standard.
Cross (EC) told our senior reporter Veneranda Langa (VL), he remained a member of the MDC-T after relinquishing his several positions.
He described Chamisa as a “brilliant young man” and believes Zimbabwe’s future lies in young people. Below are excerpts from the interview.
VL: In your blog on August 3 you said any legal challenge to the July 30 presidential elections would be “shortlived”. Do you believe President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa won the election against Nelson Chamisa?
EC: Well, I cannot say that because I think the Constitutional Court will make a ruling in that respect.
VL: The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said the elections were compromised by a partisan state-controlled media, use of food aid to influence the vote and traditional leaders who mobilised for Zanu PF. How do you reconcile that with your assertion that it was the most free and fair election since 1980?
EC: What I can only say is that there is nothing new in what the ZHRC said in their report.
Everyone knows that Zanu PF has been doing that since the 2000 elections.
However, this time around, there was some improvement in terms of how the elections were run, and for the first time we had independent newspapers writing what they wanted.
There is no doubt in my mind that the 2018 elections were the most free and fair elections.
Previously, it was not so free at all, and I think the international community will also classify this election as reasonable.
There is no doubt that the election campaign period was much better than before.
VL: According to some MDC-T officials, you resigned from the party recently. If true, why did you resign?
EC: I have not resigned from the party as an individual member. I just resigned from positions which I held in the party, for instance, being a member of the national executive, a member of the national organising committee, and as a member of the elections directorate, but I am still a member of the party.
VL: What are your thoughts on Nelson Chamisa’s credentials as a party leader and aspiring president of Zimbabwe?
EC: I think Chamisa is a brilliant young man. He had a fantastic campaign and he did represent the next generation well.
There is no doubt in my mind that Chamisa is a good leader.
He played the political game well, he is a tough guy and he managed to exercise his authority in the party very quickly and that is a sign of good leadership.
We had our issues, but I am from the old generation, and now I believe that we should give a chance to the new, younger generation.
VL: Do you think former president Robert Mugabe’s endorsement of Chamisa on the eve of the election had an effect on the outcome?
EC: Yes, I think Mugabe’s statements were very detrimental to Chamisa’s campaign.
Mugabe is a hated individual and that is why there was an uprising in November 2017 to remove him from power.
People hated him and for Mugabe to endorse Chamisa was very detrimental to the MDC Alliance campaign.
VL: You are one of the few opposition MPs that seemed to endorse Mnangagwa after the coup. Do you see him as any different from Mugabe and why?
EC: We (Zimbabweans) worked with Mugabe for more than 40 years, and that is a very long time with one leader. When Mnangagwa came, I thought that the country would support him, but he has a lot to do.
VL: The July 30 election results show that Bulawayo, which includes your former constituency, rejected Mnangagwa. Do you think they made a mistake by not endorsing his leadership?
EC: I do not think that there is anything peculiar about that because Bulawayo has always been anti-Zanu PF.
Chamisa got more than 80% margins, and there is no change because it is an MDC Alliance stronghold. They have always rejected Zanu PF.
VL: What is your view on assertions that Mnangagwa is equally guilty of all the sins associated with Mugabe such as corruption, torture, financial indiscipline and killing of Zanu PF opponents?
EC: He (Mnangagwa) being in Zanu PF carries the same burden as Mugabe and I think as a party, they will have to live with that, and also that Mnangagwa is in the same position as Mugabe.
It means that he will have to try and deal with it. However, I believe that people can change, and even the Bible says that you will know a tree by its fruits.
There are past atrocities like Gukurahundi, but what can he do? That was a long time ago, and now we need to put the ghosts of the past away and work towards national healing.
We need to fix all human rights abuses, including those of Operation Murambatsvina, the 2008 electoral violence and even the crimes that happened during the liberation war.
VL: Do you think the opposition, including the MDC, in its current form has any chance of upstaging Zanu PF through elections?
EC: They can, but I think they need to look at past mistakes and change the manner in which they fight elections.
VL: What do you consider to be the biggest challenges you faced as opposition MP and any regrets?
EC: I cannot talk about regrets, but what I can say is that the most exciting moments of my time as a legislator and politician was representing the poor. No regrets at all.