THE Thokozani Khupe-led opposition MDC-T has refused to be labelled a Zanu-PF project taking orders from President Emmerson Mnangagwa to scuttle MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s plans to unseat the Zanu-PF government.
Douglas Mwonzora (DM) who now identifies himself as MDC-T secretary-general had a lengthy interview with Newsday (ND) Midlands reporter Brenna Matendere (ND) over a number of issues regarding the party’s next move following a recent Supreme Court ruling which gave acting president Khupe the mandate to organise an extra-ordinary congress to elect a substantive executive within the next three months.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
ND: A Supreme Court ruling has seemingly re-energised and awakened your political career again as secretary-general of MDC-T. What is your feeling about the development?
DM: I think the Supreme Court decision gives our party an opportunity to show that we are different and that we respect constitutionalism and the rule of law. Contrary to what some people are saying, the Supreme Court does not assign a leader to the party. It gives the party an opportunity to hold an extra-ordinary congress and choose whoever they want as president. I am, however, sad for two things. The first one is that we did not need to come all the way to the Supreme Court for us to do what is right. Our Constitution is very clear on what we should have done in the first place. The second one is the level of hate and intolerance from some leaders within the party. However, an opportunity exists for us to bring our party back to its founding values.
ND: Is there a difference between MDC-T and MDC Alliance? Are they two different parties?
DM: The MDC Alliance is not a political party. Rather, it is a group of seven political parties who include the MDC-T. The alliance agreement makes it clear that the parties in it maintain their individual identity and independence.
ND: As it stands, what posts does Nelson Chamisa hold in MDC-T including his deputies and standing committee members?
DM: In terms of the 2014 structures, Nelson Chamisa reverts back to being secretary for policy. Lynnete Karenyi-Kore was chairperson of the women’s assembly. This is just for three months. Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube are presidents of their own parties. If they have rejoined the MDC-T, then the provisions of the constitution apply. They can’t hold office until the expiry of five years.
ND: What does the MDC-T constitution say in terms of the objective of holding an extra-ordinary congress, is it to elect a leader to complete the term of the late president Morgan Tsvangirai (since his term has already ended)or to elect a whole substantive leadership to take up a five-year term?
DM: The constitution says that after the death of the president, the party must hold an extra-ordinary congress for purposes of electing his replacement. The case was first determined around March or April last year. Chamisa appealed to the Supreme Court. The appeal was heard in August last year before the expiry of our term which was supposed to expire in November last year. The cause of the delay in finalising this case were the appeals which were very ill-advised. However, the Supreme Court extended our mandate by a maximum of four months in order to allow us to organise the congress. We can hold the regular congress later in the year.
ND: Were any of the now MDC-T leaders like Morgen Komichi and Thokozani Khupe aware of the Supreme Court judgment before it was delivered?
DM: I don’t think anybody was aware of the judgment before it was delivered. However, having listened to the manner in which the matter was argued I had a rough idea of how the judgment might go myself. However, for others obviously they knew that the judgment could either be for or against Elias Mashavira. They were able I think to prepare their responses depending on how the matter went.
ND: Would you know how Morgen Komichi brought a prepared speech to the Supreme Court showing he knew the outcome of the judgment before hand?
DM: Many people underestimate Senator Komichi. He is very well read, experienced and educated. He later advised me that being a party to the case he was determined to accept either outcome. In the case of a win he would urge the respondents to accept the ruling. In the event of the loss he would accept the ruling. This is what he went on to do. I saw absolutely nothing amiss with that.
ND: What is your comment to the view that MDC-T led by Khupe is a Zanu-PF project?
DM: I don’t think Dr Khupe is a Zanu-PF project at all. She took a different view on whether or not to join Polad (Political Actors Dialogue). Chamisa wants dialogue with (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa only if it involves the two of them and is before an independent arbiter. Khupe thinks that dialogue can still work under Polad. That doesn’t make one a project. There is a tendency of avoiding hard issues in the party by labelling people. Remember Biti and Ncube were labelled as Zanu-PF projects after they split from the party. Interestingly, they are now the ones leading in labelling Khupe a project of Zanu-PF. I think it’s just cheap propaganda.
ND: The MDC Alliance has vowed to resist any attempts to have you and MDC-T take over Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, party structures and any other movable and immovable properties, what will you do?
DM: It is not up to the people making noise to determine whether the law must be followed or not. We can’t allow lawlessness and anarchy as a party. Refusing with party assets where those assets must be surrendered is theft. We will deal with that. We hope they see sense and simply follow the law.
ND: We hear there is simmering tension in MDC-T as we speak, are you all pulling in one direction?
DM: I think this is just propaganda. Remember there was a group that was with madam Khupe before the judgment. After the judgment there is one MDCT party. Leadership of the party will be determined at congress.
ND: What is the future of the MDC-T led by Khupe looking like in terms of its roadmap and strategy to dislodge Zanu-PF and rule the country?
DM: There is now one MDC which will be led by the president to be elected at the extra-ordinary congress. We hope everyone concerned will come. The future is very bright if we play our cards well and if we all pull in the same direction. Immediately after congress we are going to pursue a two-pronged approach. One will be to escalate the fight for electoral and other reforms. The other will be to re-organise the party and re-energise its social base. We will make it.