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Transcript of interview with with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat (Part 2)
Violet Gonda, 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

Morgan 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 field.

Violet: 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?

Morgan 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 culture.

Violet: 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 scenario?

Morgan 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

Violet: 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

Morgan 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.

Violet: So would you meet with Mutambara who has in recent weeks been preaching reconciliation or rather co-operation between the pro-democracy groups?

Morgan 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.

Violet: So there are talks that are underway, is that what youíre saying?

Morgan 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.

Violet: 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?

Morgan 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.

Violet: By outside forces, you mean ZANU PF? Infiltration?

Morgan 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.

Violet: 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?

Morgan 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.

Violet: 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 politicised institution?

Morgan 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.

Violet: 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?

Morgan 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.

Violet: But, do you agree that in any conflict situation, people do need leadership

Morgan 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

Violet: 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

Morgan 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.

Violet: So would you say in a way that maybe people donít want mass action because, you knowÖ

Morgan Tsvangirai: What do they want?

Violet: ... 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?

Morgan 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.

Violet: 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?

Morgan 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.

Violet: And, before we go, do you have any final words?

Morgan 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.

Violet: Is to some extent the Opposition waiting for Mugabeís successor to come into place?

Morgan 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.

Violet Gonda: OK, thank you very much Mr Tsvangirai for agreeing to talk on the programme ĎHot Seatí

Morgan Tsvangirai: You are welcome, thank you.

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