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of 'Hot Seat' interview
with Arthur Mutambara and Lovemore Madhuku
Gonda, SW Radio Africa
May 08, 2007
On the programme 'Hot
Seat' journalist Violet Gonda hosts the final discussion with one
of the MDC Presidents Professor Arthur Mutambara and National Constitutional
Assembly chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku.
bring you the final segment of a two-part teleconference with opposition
leader Professor Arthur Mutambara (right) and civic leader Dr Lovemore
Madhuku (left) on the programme Hot Seat.
The discussion last week
centred on the status of the talks with South Africa's Thabo Mbeki
with Dr Madhuku ending that particular discussion sharing his reservations
about the consultative process. He said civic society doesn't
know what is happening as far as the talks are concerned, as they
have not been involved. Dr. Madhuku pointed out that they have little
trust in politicians as they are in the habit of making compromises.
Critics have said there seems to be a lot of posturing from political
parties on the issue of the crisis talks. So I then asked Professor
Mutambara if someone should put together a group of stakeholders
as they did in South Africa with CODESA, instead of just politicians
negotiating behind the scenes.
Mutambara: In answering your question let me just quickly agree
with Dr. Madhuku. Zimbabweans will be masters of their own destiny.
We cannot depend on foreigners to deliver us from this dictatorship.
We should be in charge of our lives. We can't out source our
emancipation to foreigners. So our success will depend on activities
on the ground, it will depend on what we are doing ourselves as
Zimbabweans as opposed to focusing on what Mbeki, SADC or the West
can do for us. So that is a very important point. We are going to
be the ones responsible for our emancipation, not Mbeki and not
SADC. Secondly we must make sure that we have an all stakeholder
approach. Political parties cannot be engaging ZANU and Mbeki on
their own. They must leverage the wisdom - they must involve civic
society. It's an all stakeholder approach we seek in our country.
So we agree that it has to be a CODESA type activity. It must involve
civic society in a formal way not informally but formally because
we are in this fight together. We need to make sure that the political
parties are involved in a process of thorough and formal consultation
with civic society. We want to learn from the Kempton Park processes
in South Africa - CODESA 1, CODESA 2. We want to learn from
Kenya so that we can actually be effective in terms of what we are
doing in our country.
So have you actually identified who your friends are in
Africa because many people believe that as long as these other African
countries are attached to South Africa by the hip, many believe
that Robert Mugabe will get his own way?
Mutambara: I think that is a very simplistic way of looking at things.
We don't share that observation. We have faith in the African
government of the ANC; we have faith in Africans being able to provide
mediation in our environment. We believe the Africans are more effective
than westerners in Zimbabwe because of the history of double standards,
hypocrisy on the part of the West. So the West can do justice to
us by making sure they support the SADC initiative, they support
President Mbeki in this initiative because the Africans are the
most effective in terms of trying to push for change and push for
democratic change in Zimbabwe. But we want to emphasize that we
agree that we don't want any piecemeal approach to reforming
our constitution - Amendment 18, Amendment 19. We don't
want any of that. We want a holistic and comprehensive approach
to changing our constitution. We share the reservations of Dr. Madhuku
around that and also we share his reservations about politicians.
We don't want to depend on Mutambara; we don't want
to depend on the politician. We must depend on institutions; we
must depend on value systems. We have seen it in Kenya where they
promised to deliver a constitution but up to now Kibaki has not
done that. So we are also very, very strong about having a constitutional
dispensation before a new government takes over because there is
a danger that these politicians, like myself, will get carried away
with power and not deliver on the essence of a new constitution.
So we would want to make sure Zimbabweans should never depend on
personalities or depend on politicians but rather depend on systems,
processes and institutions so that we can have a holistic and comprehensive
approach to changing our constitution before a new government takes
over. We have seen this in the past . . .
Mr. Mutambara why do you believe that Thabo Mbeki will do things
differently this time because he was been embarking on this quiet
diplomacy for a long time and some critics say he really doesn't
have any faith in Zimbabwe's opposition. Why do you trust
him now that he will do things differently?
Mutambara: First and foremost we don't speak for Mbeki, Mbeki
speaks for himself. What we can say to you is that this time around
it's not a Mbeki mandate it's a SADC mandate, it's
an African mandate. Secondly, the Africans in general from Kuffour,
Mwanawasa, Mbeki, Ian Khama are very clear in their minds in terms
of the nature of the brutality that Mugabe is meting out on Africans.
Mugabe is now clearly a despot who is brutalizing black Africans,
who is denying black Africans human rights. Who is denying black
Africans economic opportunities and there is movement in opinions
and attitudes in Africa vis a vi Mugabe. And so that is a starting
point. This is not business as usual. It's clear to Africans
in the Diaspora, it's clear to Africans in Africa that Mugabe
is no longer a liberator, he is no longer a liberation hero, he
is no longer a land revolutionary.
has more than Zimbabwe on his mind. We are talking about national
strategic interests for South Africa. The World Cup 2010 soccer
is a national achievement for South Africa. It's a regional
achievement for SADC. It's a continental achievement for Africa
so the Africans are not prepared to have Zimbabwe spoil that opportunity
for Africa to showcase itself in this world cup. So, if you want
at a very cynical level, South Africa has clearly strategic interests
in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. That's new, that's
new, that's different from the past and in any case we have
faith that the Africans in South African believe in the success
of SADC. They believe that they cannot have SADC succeeding without
Zimbabwe. They cannot have Africa succeeding without Zimbabwe functioning
properly as an economy. So we have faith that there is good will
on the part of the ANC government, there is goodwill on the part
of Mbeki. As Africans they believe the destiny of Africa is dependent
on the success of Zimbabwe and so we are saying, "let's
give Africans the opportunity and space to bring about effective
intervention in our country." When all is said and done we
must continue with the fight in our country to get freedom. We can't
out source our liberation to foreigners. We must be masters of our
own destiny and the price of freedom is death! Give me freedom or
give me death. If Zimbabweans are not prepared to sacrifice their
lives to be free then they don't deserve freedom! So we must
continue with our defiance campaign. We must continue confronting
Mugabe so that we can bring about change in this country.
Dr. Madhuku your thoughts on this because while Mbeki is facilitating
dialogue, Mugabe continues to beat opposition leaders and supporters
and is this not an indication that he has already - Mugabe
has already started his election rigging campaign? And do you think
Zimbabweans will get a fair deal?
Madhuku: I think we should understand what Professor Mutambara is
saying and I think I made the point also. The point that the basic
approach that we have is that we will have action here in Zimbabwe.
That is what our focus is on - a united front that puts pressure
on Mugabe to get the reforms that we want. The initiative by SADC
where President Mbeki is involved is actually indicated on the actions
that SADC is playing, Zimbabweans are playing. And remember that
SADC only met after 11 March when all of us were arrested -
Mutambara there, Tsvangirai, myself - all of us. That's when
SADC came in and so it's not like we are sitting and waiting
to see what Mbeki does, we are sitting to see what the SADC initiative
is all about. We are engaged daily in the struggle to get our country
better to achieve the kind of objectives that we have set that Professor
Mutambara has clearly outlined. And it is in that context that we
would really, with a lot of hope, see what President Mbeki does.
If the SADC initiative or the Mbeki initiative comes to nothing
that will not mean that our struggle will come to nothing. It will
simply mean that initiative has not worked but the struggle for
Zimbabweans is continuing. That's what our objective is at
And what about the violence issue. Who is going to run,
let's say the 2008 election campaign when the leadership from
the opposition is spending time recovering and severely weakened?
Madhuku: There will be no election campaign without the violence
stopping. There will be no election campaign without a new constitution.
There will be no election campaign without a clear democratic dispensation
in this country. I think the assumption you are making is that -
not withstanding all that you are saying - if Mugabe calls an election
tomorrow or the next day and has done no changes; he is still violent,
he is still abducting people, he is still crippling the opposition
we will still say; "Okay let's go to an election?"
This is the point that has changed. This is the point that we wish
to make clear to the world that as Zimbabweans we have reached a
stage where we are able to say; "No we will not accept that."
Mugabe can do that kind of façade called an election but
he will do it on his own!
So what are you saying exactly because if elections are going to
be held next year and so far the negotiations haven't actually
started its just facilitating dialogue between the political parties,
will there be enough time?
Madhuku: Ya there will be a lot of time. In fact the whole basis
is that there is enough time for us. There is nothing that is cast
in stone. March is not cast in stone. What is cast in stone is that
Zimbabweans must determine for themselves the kind of country that
they want to see. That's what is cast in stone. The people
must decide how they want to governed and that is all. I am sure
Professor Mutambara has a lot to add on that point.
Mutambara: Ya, you see March 2008 is just a number, meaningless
number. The most important thing in our country is the issue of
creating conditions amenable to free and fair elections. We could
care less about the name, the number - March 2008. If there is total
buy in, if there is political will, if they are irreversible processes
towards a new constitution if everyone is agreed we are working
together and it requires 15months to get a new constitution in place,
it requires 15 months to carry out electoral law reforms, we will
allow the 15 months to be used in the creation of those conditions.
That is if there are irreversible processes towards a new constitution.
SO the obsession with elections must be killed in our country. We
don't want people who talk elections, elections. We are not
interested in elections without a new constitution. We are not interested
in elections without new electoral laws. So the obsession should
not be March 2008. The obsession is - "Do we have conditions
in our country that allow us to have free and fair elections?
Also we are
saying - that first election under the new constitution, under
the new dispensation must be internationally supervised. Mugabe
and ZANU have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not
capable of carrying out free and fair elections. So international
supervision of that first election. So please our charge, our mandate
is to say - let's not be obsessed with elections. Let's
be obsessed with creating conditions that will allow us to have
free and fair elections and let's allow the necessary amount
of time required to allow those conditions to take route in our
society so that whatever government is elected is a legitimate government
that is not being challenged by those who have lost that election.
So, yes we would
want to have a new constitution, electoral laws and removal of AIPPA
by March 2008 but if we sit down as Zimbabweans and agree that it
will take us two years, it will take us 15 months we will allow
the necessary amount of time to be put into the process of producing
a genuine political dispensation that allows us to have a new society.
What about the issue of sanctions? Some have said that
all that Thabo Mbeki has to do right now is threaten to close the
border like what South Africa did with Ian Smith. Do you agree with
Mutambara: First and foremost we have never . . .
Madhuku: We have never called for sanctions . . .
Mutambara: . . . called for sanction against our country. Just
briefly before Dr Madhuku comes in. We have never called for sanctions
against our country. We have said publicly - the biggest imposer
of sanctions on Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF. The sanctions
of corruption, the sanctions of misrule, the sanctions of illegitimacy,
the sanctions of complete economic mismanagement. Mugabe must remove
those sanctions against Zimbabweans before he discusses the removal
of sanctions by other people. Now with the South Africans we are
say; "The South Africans must use what ever influence they
have to drive Mugabe - the dictator - to the negotiating
table." We are not going to prescribe to them how to do it.
We are saying you are Africans. We are saying you have a vested
interest in the processes of Zimbabwe so use whatever influences
you have to force the opposition, to force Mugabe to dialogue and
come up with solutions for Zimbabweans. So we respect the government
of South Africa and we believe they are genuine and we are saying
they must use whatever influences they have to drive the process
towards dialogue in our country.
And Dr. Madhuku you were just about to say something about the sanctions?
Madhuku: Yes I was actually going to give a shorter answer than
that. Mine was clearly that we have never called for sanctions.
What we have called upon the international community to do is to
support the cause of Zimbabweans who are fighting for democracy.
Like what Professor Mutambara is saying - we are not going
to tell the world how to do it. What we have asked the world to
do is "you see what we are doing, we will do it as Zimbabweans
and we will call upon your support." That is all we have been
doing and will continue to do.
And Dr. Madhuku what are the possible scenarios, in a nutshell,
that can unfold in Zimbabwe. Now that the SADC heads of state have
tasked Thabo Mbeki with facilitating dialogue between the political
Madhuku: The first scenario is of course the initiative by SADC
where Mugabe agrees to come to the negotiating table and talks to
the opposition, perhaps with the involvement of civic society and
some settlement is reached and he agrees to constitutional reform
and thereafter elections. That will be like the ideal scenario and
so on. But there is the other likely scenario where Mugabe would
like to confuse the SADC leaders, pretending that there is no time
to do this wholesale initiative coming from themselves and then
continues to push in the direction of saying - please we are running
a democracy here and that the problem is the opposition and then
goes ahead with the election that his party has called for March
2008. In that event it will very much depend on what we do as the
united group of civic society and the opposition: -whether we legitimize
Mugabe by participating in those elections or we simply, as we are
saying currently, non participation in the election. If we were
to not participate in the election Mugabe would clearly be illegitimate
and the process of continuing with pressure will be shorter. Within
a year of that restricted non event we will get a Zimbabwe that
is free, with free and fair elections, internationally supervised
and under a new constitution.
And a final word Professor Mutambara
Mutambara: We are saying Zimbabweans are going to be masters of
their own destiny. We are going to free ourselves from this dictatorship.
We appreciate the assistance and mediation from foreigners but we
don't depend on foreigners, we depend on ourselves. We are
also saying we don't depend on the benevolence of Robert Mugabe.
We are not going to be freed by Robert Mugabe committing political
suicide or Robert Mugabe self destructing on our part. We are saying
Mugabe will have no choice. We are going to drive Mugabe to the
negotiating table. We are going to force Mugabe to deliver what
we want in the same way that Smith delivered what we wanted in 1980.
And so we won't depend on the goodwill of Robert Mugabe. We
will depend on our actions on the ground. We will depend on our
sacrifices on the ground to deliver this change.
In terms of
scenarios, we are hopeful we have cautious optimism that out of
the SADC initiatives there will be a process of achieving minimum
conditions that are critical for us to have free and fair elections
in our country and once that is done we are going to work together
even before the new constitution, even before the new conditions.
The paradigm going forward is a united front to negotiate and establish
a consensus on a new constitution. To negotiate and establish a
consensus on levelling the political playing field in our country.
Working together is the operative phrase. There is absolutely no
alternative in our country to working together in terms of working
towards a new political dispensation.
After that dispensation
when we have our conditions that are favourable for elections, again
we are going to present a united front inspired by a single candidate
principle so that every vote will count against Mugabe. We are saying
to Zimbabweans please let's close ranks. Let's manage
our differences and drive Mugabe out of town through unity of purpose,
unity in action that is what we want to see in our country. In the
event of worst case scenario where Mugabe refuses to give us a new
constitution, no electoral reform, no removal of AIPPA and POSA
- in that worst case scenario here is our position: We want
to make sure that all the democratic forces the opposition parties,
civic society come up with a common position. A common position
that will bind us together because if we have divisions in terms
of how we address that worst case scenario that's what Mugabe
is looking for. That's what Mugabe would want. So the starting
point is that whatever we decide to do - participation or
non participation - it has to be a collective and common position
across all civic society, across all opposition parties and also
as democrats we are going to consult our people, we are going to
consult our national councils and the national councils of our political
parties and the leadership of the civic societies we'll sit
down and come up with that position as to what we do.
But we are saying
we are not interested in participating in fraudulent elections,
we are not interested in legitimizing Mugabe by participating in
elections that are predetermined. We demand free and fair elections
in our country as a minimum requirement. The issue in Zimbabwe cannot
be resolved because remember it is illegitimacy that comes from
fraudulent elections. SO if we participate in illegitimate elections,
if we participate in fraudulent elections we have not solved the
crisis of governance in our country. We would not have solved the
issue around illegitimacy of the government.
not be caught up on the politics of emancipation and democracy.
We must talk about economics. What are we going to do as the opposition
when we get into power around technology, around science, around
macro-economics, around social policy, around HIV/ AIDS, around
land? As we debate freedom, as we debate constitutionalism in our
country we must also proffer technocratic answers to the challenges
of our country. We can't wait until we get into power to develop
our policies. We can't wait until we get into power to built
technocratic capacity in civic society, technocratic capacity in
opposition party members & leaders so that when our change does
come that change will have both form and substance.
We are not looking
for the change that happened in Zambia where Chiluba was worse than
Kaunda, what happened in Malawi where Muluzi was worse than Banda.
We don't want that in our country. We want change that has
both form and substance. That's why our challenge in the opposition
is to make sure we deliver democratic change, we also deliver economic
transformation from poverty to Zimbabwe which is a globally competitive
economy characterized by a business growth, entrepreneurship, value
addition, beneficiation so that we become the Singapore of Africa,
the Malaysia of Africa. We are dreamers. We have the potential.
We have natural resources in our country. We have very good infrastructure
on the ground. We have very, very capable human capital in our country.
We were the bread basked of Southern Africa we can go back to that
and do more. The future is great and as Zimbabweans, if we work
together, we will be able to achieve the promised land. But there
will be more blood, sweat and tears before we reach the tipping
point. We won't claim any cheap victories, any easy victories.
Zimbabweans must work harder than what they have done so far and
we are saying this hard work must be carried out in a collective
way by emphasizing a united front in everything that we do.
And final word Dr. Madhuku.
Madhuku: Well I think my word really goes to all the people of Zimbabwe
that this is the best opportunity we have. Which is that all the
players especially the political parties and the civic society have
got united. They share the same vision and almost the same language
- word for word we agree as to what we want to do. This is
the best opportunity for us to remain united and pull our energies
together. And once we do that I think we have no doubt that we will
Gonda: Thank you very much Dr. Lovemore Madhuku and Professor
Arthur Mutambara for agreeing to participate on the programme Hot
Mutambara: Ok thank you very much.
Madhuku: Ok Thanks.
can be heard on SW Radio Africa 's Hot Seat programme (08
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