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of interview with with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on SW Radio
Africa's Hot Seat (Part 2)
SW Radio Africa
January 30, 2007
Back to Part one: Transcript
of 'Hot Seat' broadcast on 23 January, 2007
Violet Gonda: We bring you the second interview with Opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The Tsvangirai MDC announced recently
it will be launching an election campaign for the 2008 election
despite attempts by the Mugabe regime to move the Presidential poll
to 2010. In this final segment, I started by asking Mr Tsvangirai
if his party has a strategy to combat the current electoral laws
Tsvangirai: Well there is a lot of work that is already
going by our legal committee on two fronts. One is the front on
the constitutional principles agreed that are going to be adopted
by the Party. And secondly, the legal constraints and the electoral
conditions that makeÖ (Inaudible due to phone problem)Ö sometimes
deliberately undermine the electoral laws.
So the legal committee
is working and compiling. . We will be going to court and we are
discussing with ZEC some of the limitations and some of the malpractices
that we have experienced. So we are taking that legal action in
order to ensure that the legal framework is even. Whether we will
succeed or not itís up to the courts, but those are some of the
actions that we are taking to ensure that there is a level playing
And on the issue of Mugabe and whatís happening in ZANU PF, how
significant is Mugabeís issue of appointing a successor to the strategy
of the Opposition?
Tsvangirai: Well, he can appoint anyone who he wants, but
as far as we are concerned, itís not about the individual; replacing
an individual face with another ZANU PF face. What we want is serious
transformation of the electoral conditions and political conditions
in the country. To us we donít regard the change of guard, of individuals
as transformation. We want to look at the constitution, we want
to look at the electoral management system, we want to look at the
reconstruction issues. And those issues are important because you
are not necessarily looking at the face; you are looking at political
And, what about the crisis in Zimbabwe that seems to be
worsening because several experts are predicting a collapse of the
state machinery, you know, a total collapse of the economy, and,
civil servants being sent home. How would the MDC respond to this
Tsvangirai: Well, such a scenario is catastrophic for a
country. I do agree that the statistics have shown colossal damage
to our country in terms of economy and social fabric. Such a scenario
would mean that the Opposition will have to articulate like we did
about the Roadmap to the resolution of the national crisis. We continue
to insist that is the path that can only save the country and those
that are in Government must realise that this is the only viable
route to the resolution of the national crisis. But such a scenario
would be catastrophic
And what about the issue ofthe split in the MDC? Is there any possibility
of reconciliation because observers fear that time is being wasted
fighting each other and thatÖ
Tsvangirai: No one has been fighting. Weíve never been
fighting each other. Yes, there was disagreement, yes there was
a splinter group, but there was an agreement that we shouldnít throw
stones against each other. Thereís already a memorandum of agreement
that has been signed in terms of how we relate to each other. Thereís
already been a team elected from our side to talk to the other side
and I hope that they will see the need to engage that team, and,
we havenít got a report yet, hopefully there will be progress.
So would you meet with Mutambara who has in recent weeks been preaching
reconciliation or rather co-operation between the pro-democracy
Tsvangirai: I think that goes without saying. Itís not
about meeting Mutambara, itís about the agenda that we have set.
We have said there is a team that we have assigned to talk to the
other erstwhile colleagues of ours who have broken away and you
cannot negotiate in public. Such a process would require a lot of
confidence building and thatís the process we are doing. Itís no
use talking about it, letís go and go to the table and talk about
how to move forward.
So there are talks that are underway, is that what youíre saying?
Tsvangirai: What Iím saying is that from our side we have
got a team, we have a memorandum that we signed to ensure that there
are no more these public acrimony, that people should sit down and
talk, and, we hope that the other group will also appoint a team.
Thatís what we have been waiting. And, once those teams sit down
they will be able to explore the areas of convergence and areas
of divergence and try to narrow that and then come to the leadership
of both groups to ensure that there is an understanding.
And, you know, some have asked that do you believe, as the leader
of the Opposition, that you could have made mistakes. Do you feel
culpable to some extent for the MDC split?
Tsvangirai: No, the question is that the MDC split was
not an event, right. And that it was an accumulation of fault lines
in the Party. In fact, I have kept the Party together up to that
point. So, when people look at the split in the MDC they cannot
justify the split by targeting an individual to say Ďyou were responsible
for ití, it was a process, and I think all the leadership in MDC,
including myself, have to accept responsibility for the so called
splinter, but, there were outside forces, there were outside big
players influencing that split. So, one cannot point at the MDC
and say Ďitís because of the leadersí. I mean, I have to find out
where somebody can point out that.
By outside forces, you mean ZANU PF? Infiltration?
Tsvangirai: There were a combination of factors, there
were outside influences thatís all I can say from the Party, inside
Zimbabwe, outside Zimbabwe. There were influences that motivated
others to think that that was the only way to go.
And, do you also think that you have done everything that you can
possibly do to stop violence in the Party and also on the issue
of accusations about the Kitchen Cabinet?
Tsvangirai: Ya, those are just mild accusations that have
no substance. It is the language that is used by my erstwhile colleagues
and I donít want to answer them on that. There is no violence in
the Party; at least there is no violence sanctioned by the leadership.
If there is sporadic violence in the Party it is not condoned by
the Party; we deal with it. As to the Kitchen Cabinet, those are
just accusations from people who have no substantive accusations.
And you know if the MDC comes to power, whether itís 2008 or 2010,
what strategy does the MDC have to consolidate the peace and security
within the country given the fact that the security forces are a
Tsvangirai: Well, I think that thatís a major challenge
for an in-coming administration of the MDC; how do you build confidence
amongst the people. The only way you can do that is to establish
the rule of law. Everyone has to behave in a manner that advances
the rule of law. That there will be no violation of the law with
impunity, that there is no retribution. That is going to be a vindictive
programme of the MDC. We want to rebuild the country, we will have
to focus on the reconstitution agenda, we have to demonstrate that
we have the nationís interests at heart, we have to build confidence
across the political divide, we have to be tolerant.
You have from time to time called people to brace themselves for
a sustained programme of democratic resistance. But, some people
say, with all due respect, it seems like repeats of the same words
that youíve been saying over the years. Do you, to some extent agree
that your performance has been disappointing as the Opposition?
Tsvangirai: Well, every leader has to be open to criticism
and as far as Iím concerned, Iím not immune to criticism. But I
certainly believe that I have performed. The fact that people want
results yesterday without them participating cannot be blamed on
the leader. It has to be blamed on the capacity of the people themselves,
to realise that this is not a Tsvangirai struggle, this is a people
struggle and that their involvement would make a difference. We
have shown it before, that when people act together, when people
are mobilised together over a common purpose the result will be
substantial. So this is not a Tsvangirai problem, this is a peopleís
problem. And the people cannot stand on the terraces and accuse
the leader for doing nothing.
But, do you agree that in any conflict situation, people
do need leadership
Tsvangirai: Thatís what we have provided. For the last
six years we have provided that leadership and I am sure that the
record is there for anyone to make an assessment
But, how do you get the people on to the streets, in other words
what is your strategy at the moment in terms of forming a powerful
movement because for the last six years people havenít goneÖ
Tsvangirai: Well the Opposition movement has for the last
six years provided the democratic resistance programme as a programme
of a strategy of pressure on the regime. Thatís a strategy and that
strategy needs the resources, the support, the organisation on the
ground and thatís what we are doing.
So would you say in a way that maybe people donít want mass action
because, you knowÖ
Tsvangirai: What do they want?
... because, if you say youíve done this as an Opposition and itís
now up to the people some will say people are tired and hungry and
pre-occupied with obtaining basic commodities. Do you think there
is widespread support for action then, because we havenít seen people
taking to the streets?
Tsvangirai: Well, look, people have an option; either to
submit to the conditions that they face or to stand up and be counted.
That is the challenge that I give to the people; you stand up and
be a challenge, donít just complain and you cannot accuse other
people of not doing anything when you yourself are not doing anything.
So all Iím saying is that there is a challenge to Zimbabweans that
freedom is not easy, freedom is not cheap. As we have experienced
in the armed struggle, those who have sacrificed, sacrificed with
the full conviction that freedom has to be fought for. And, thatís
what we tell the people and we try to build that confidence in the
people to say no one is going to liberate you, no one is going to
free you from the clutches of this dictatorship. People have to
participate and there are so many things that can be done; training,
educating people, motivating people. But, if people decide on their
own individual that they will not do anything, well itís those individuals.
I was going to say that if people donít turn up do you think you
will have a problem, which will hurt the long term prospects for
growing the Party because the State has the capacity to easily crush
any mass uprising. So, do you have any other alternative policies?
Tsvangirai: Violet, who in the imagination would have thought
that the Soviet Union would collapse - if you were to ask with all
that might of the army, the military might. But it collapsed with
the full conviction of the people that it was nolonger serving their
interest. One day we will celebrate the victory of the people over
this dictatorship. I wholly believe that.
And, before we go, do you have any final words?
Tsvangirai: Well, I donít have any final word, I think
weíve exhausted what we discussed, the themes that you have raised.
In 2007 there is an opportunity for Zimbabweans to mobilise themselves
because of the rupture in ZANU PF about the succession debate, that
provides an opportunity to the Opposition. Letís go for it.
Is to some extent the Opposition waiting for Mugabeís successor
to come into place?
Tsvangirai: No, no, no. We are not waiting. I told you
that the programme of democratic resistance is a programme of the
Party, this is the Programme in town today, thatís the only game
in town. And, that involves a number of work plans that we are putting
in place because we realise that this regime, given itís vulnerability
at the moment and the divisions and the factionalism in ZANU PF
provides the Opposition with an opportunity to rally the people
to resolve the national crisis.
Gonda: OK, thank you very much Mr Tsvangirai for agreeing
to talk on the programme ĎHot Seatí
Tsvangirai: You are welcome, thank you.
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