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factions head to head on behind the headlines
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
April 18, 2010
re-united on 3 May 2010. Please visit the ZINASU fact
This is the
combined Part 1 and Part 2 of a heated debate on Behind the Headlines
featuring the two spokespersons of the rival Zimbabwe
National Students Union (ZINASU) factions. SW Radio Africa journalist
Lance Guma moderates as Kudakwashe Chakabva and Wisdom Mgagara battle
it out to explain why the students union split and who is the legitimate
executive out of the two?
Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of
Behind the Headlines. As some of you will be aware, the Zimbabwe
National Students Union, otherwise known as ZINASU, split into two
factions sometime last year over disagreements over various issues,
one of which was, which direction to take with the constitution
So what we have
decided to do, since there has since been two congresses by two
different factions and two executives elected, we've got the
spokespersons from the two factions onto the programme, I've
got Wisdom Mgagara who is from the executive
led by Joshua Chinyere and I've got Kudakwashe Chakabva
who is from the executive
led by Tafadzwa Mugwadi, gentlemen, thank you very much for
taking your time and joining us.
Chakabva: You are welcome
Mgagara: Yes, thank you.
Right, let me start with you Kudakwashe Chakabva from the Tafadzwa
Mugwadi executive, from your side of the fence, why do we have this
problem where we have two executives claiming to be the legitimate
I think the whole problem emanates from some few individuals, I
am sure they are just power-hungry individuals who are trying to
make Zimbabwe National Students Union a platform for self-enrichment.
If you go back, if you trace the events leading to this so-called
split, that it emanates from the General Council meeting that was
held in Harare on the 27th of July 2009, whereby (Lovemore) Chinoputsa
was deposed from power through a vote of no confidence by the students
of Zimbabwe General Council then that disgruntlement emanated from
his failure to execute his duties fully and from there Brilliant
Dube led a group of students into forming something that they call
a National Executive Council but what you have to remember also
is that Brilliant Dube was suspended even before she had created
this thing called another ZINASU.
OK that's your side of the story. Let's go to Wisdom
Mgagara, the Joshua Chinyere executive, what's your take on
what Kudakwashe has just said?
Our position is that these divisions, they emanated from a problem
which was caused by competitive individuals as well who believed
that they are the gurus of the student union. What is the so-called
General Council which toppled Lovemore Chinoputsa was not constitutional
because we have an issue whereby the students who were there to
represent the students . . . ..and we also have an issue of the
whereby the then president Clever Bere had to move a motion on the
position of the students that the students of Zimbabwe had (inaudible)
denied a constitution and had to align himself to the Madhuku agenda
of the Take Charge campaign.
This was again unconstitutional
and an extraordinary General Council which is in the provision of
the constitution of ZINASU that even then that there is an office
bearer who has abused his powers, there's need for that and
that general extraordinary General Council, we had on the 22nd of
August 2009 whereby Clever Bere was ousted out of office and Brilliant
Dube was elevated to the President of the Union.
Guma: OK, you've
raised one interesting issue which has been the dominant theme here
that this whole disagreement was over the constitution making process
where one faction was supported by the NCA and Dr Lovemore Madhuku
and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the other faction
supported by the MDC and others who thought that taking part in
the constitution making process was the best thing. Let me start
with you Kudakwashe. Is it true then to say the students are not
really in disagreement here, it's the organisations outside
ZINASU who have their own agendas that are manipulating the students?
Would you agree to that?
I actually totally dismiss that. We as the National Executive
Council were given the mandate to endorse the Take Charge campaign,
the so-called Madhuku campaign. It is now a popular phenomenon in
all colleges of Zimbabwe that when you go there, we are actually
called the Orange Revolutionaries. It is not, it is not something,
it has nothing to do with the NCA chairman, it is actually within
the students themselves that we have nothing to do with the constitution
making process that is stipulated under Article Six. Of course there
are certain influences especially those at the Crisis Coalition
who are trying to field some differences within the students of
Zimbabwe. I actually do not consider what the spokesperson, the
guy on the other line, what he says because we actually think that
he is part of my constituents I speak on his behalf as a student.
It is actually a nullity that he is actually saying some things
that concern the Union because I am the only one who can speak on
behalf of the Union.
OK, clearly, obviously there is disagreement. There are two factions,
both claiming to be the legitimate ZINASU which is why we are having
this programme to discuss these issues. Let me come to you Wisdom,
in the first discussion, last year I hosted a debate between Brilliant
Dube and Clever Bere and the obvious thing that came out was that
Clever Bere's Executive was against the constitution and Brilliant
Dube's one supported the constitution making process. Is this
something that both factions can deny, that this rift really has
been driven by the constitution making process?
Mgagara: Yah, truly that's
where the problem emanates from. In fact on the 22nd of August when
Brilliant Dube was elevated to be the president of the Union, there
was a resolution there which was adopted by the legitimate students
and they say that the students of Zimbabwe were agreeing to write
the constitution and from that resolution, the resolution was later
taken to a Congress which we had on the 19th of December 2009 where
it was also added that the students of Zimbabwe have agreed to writing
So I'm surprised
that there are still a group of people who still claim to be student
leaders, yet as I speak right now we've got our Secretary
General Grant Tabvurei who is in Mutare where he is meeting the
students, telling them about the progress on the issue of the constitution
and as I speak right now, I'm in Midlands, where I'm
talking to the students, talking to them about the issue of the
constitution and the students have responded in a positive way because
they are cooperating and they have said to us that it is a privilege
that we need to write a constitution that will benefit us and our
siblings and even the generations to come.
So I think the position
being taken by our fellow guys is a selfish decision because how
can you just say I do not want to get into . . . .(inaudible) . . . haven't
seen a problem with that, so the students of Zimbabwe, they have
made it clear from the resolution we had that they are going to
have a constitution.
Guma: OK, how difficult
is it to get the two sides to agree and have one united voice because
I remember there was a meeting, again last year to try and bridge
the differences and have one Congress. This collapsed of course
over several disagreements which we want to get to. Let me start
with you Kudakwashe Chakabva from the Tafadzwa Mugwadi executive,
why did the meeting fail to get the two sides to have one Congress?
What were the major obstacles?
Chakabva: I am sure you
are referring to the period when Clever Bere was still in power?
Chakabva: What I know
is we had some certain set of conditions that we thought could be
discussed and probably endorsed and amongst the conditions were
that the current secretariat, or the then secretariat should be
dissolved, one. Secondly with the mandate that there should be a
forensic audit of the Zimbabwe National Students Union financial
affairs for the past three years and we actually do not know the
reason why the comrades failed to endorse such conditions. It is
our belief that an external force was used to impede the effort
and for reasons which we are sure are just selfish ends
Guma: Let me, Wisdom
can you respond to that? What caused the collapse of the attempts
to get the unions together?
Mgagara: I'm sure
that the reason why we couldn't have one Congress is that
the one ousted president, Clever Bere, had to give some demands
which even if you go to Mars you'll not get them. He demanded
that he wanted six months in the office to lead the students union
and when his term was over, point number one. (Tafadzwa interrupts
Then point number two
we also have some individuals who are using ZINASU to be their political
battle field to settle their scores the likes of Lovemore Madhuku,
the likes of (Takura) Zhangazha. Those guys they are godfathers
for those guys and I remember well that there was once a close agreement,
whereby these guys had agreed that they were going to have one Congress
but to my surprise, the next meeting which was held, Clever Bere
was now talking something else which means that there were some
people whom he had to go and consult who were telling him what to
do and which is the same problem even happening.
As the students we don't
have problems, I don't have problems with Two boy (Tafadzwa
Mugwadi) from UZ, I don't have problems with Kurayi Hoyi but
the problem is that we have got some individuals who are using ZINASU
to their playground, where they want to achieve their issues. The
Madhuku agenda is the unpopular thing, to the people of Zimbabwe
the (inaudible) thing and therefore they know that the students
are a big force for change and therefore they can use the students
to manipulate the agenda so hence the problem which you have in
Guma: OK Kudakwashe I
heard you laughing as Wisdom was talking there, is there anything
that you object to what he said, particularly the fact that he's
alleging Clever Bere had requested an extra six months in office.
Is that true?
Chakabva: Ah, well like
I said before, his position is a nullity it comes from someone who
I can't consider now, so the point that Clever Bere wanted
power for so long it is just an assumption that he himself cannot
even prove it. Not even he that he speaks on behalf of, they cannot
even prove it. What I can prove to you as a fact is that Clever
Bere did leave power on the 28th to the 30th of January in the year
of our Lord 2010, that is enough ground to say that the man wasn't
what is being said about him.
In fact to refer back
to the issue of money that he talks of, if it is so self-evident
that these guys are so authentic why is it that they fear so much
the issue of a forensic audit? Why is that? They must question that.
They must prove to the world that they stand on behalf of real principals.
Remember what Comrade Lenin said about these worshippers of money
that when you go through such periods of invasion by these worshippers
of money you come out stronger and more resolute and that is exactly
what we are. We are not even moved by what he said. These are just
opinions by those people that we represent. Wisdom is just a student
at the University of Zimbabwe. I speak on his behalf as a student
Guma: Wisdom this is
interesting, did you or your faction reject the audit?
Mgagara: Ah actually
what I can simply say is that all what he is saying are dubious
charges. I think this young man is actually talking from an un-informed
prospective point of view because what I know is he was not even
part of the talks, one, and two I think what he is saying does not
even tally with what happened on the issue of the talks. On the
issue of the talks the agenda was not even about the secretariat.
I'm sure that he should go back and know the history for ZINASU
to have the secretariat.
It was in 2005, 2006
that the then Executive could not produce an audit report and therefore
there was need for the secretariat so that it could account for
those resources. The issue of an audit is out of the question. That
was not an issue which is making the students to be divided. It's
very unfortunate that these guys are actually pursuing an agenda
of a certain individual and they don't even know where the
problems emanated from and I mean if you are a blind person and
you are being led by someone who can see, he can even drop you in
a pit of mess.
So they are heading to
mess, we are the legitimate student leaders, recognized by everyone
in civil society, recognized by everyone, even the students. Go
to the University of Zimbabwe, ask them who is the President they'll
tell you Joshua Chinyere, go to MSU (Midlands State University),
go to Belvedere in Harare, so I don't even know what he's
saying, I mean he's a student and I'm sure that he's
a student at Harare Poly but not a student leader. We can have even
a survey that could go even to Madziva and ask them who is the President
of ZINASU and they'll tell you Joshua Chinyere, so I don't
even know what these guys are talking about?
Guma: One argument that
was put Wisdom, against the Secretariat was that certain individuals
were becoming permanent fixtures in the Union and there was this
feeling that people should come and go and I do remember an email
which was sent soon after the talks collapsed that stated that the
Secretariat was a problem, certain individuals did not want to be
removed. Would you agree it still remains a problem or should it
have been a problem?
Mgagara: I don't
think the issue of the Secretariat is a problem. As the leadership
of ZINASU we are working well with the Secretariat and I'm
sure that these guys were trying to hide behind their fingers by
citing the issue of the Secretariat but it is something which is
completely out of the story.
Guma: Well on that note
we have to conclude the first part of this discussion between the
two rival spokespersons of the Zimbabwe National Students Union
(ZINASU). That's Kudakwashe Chakabva and Wisdom Mgagara representing
both their factions. Join me next week as we conclude this debate
on just what is the problem in ZINASU.
Below is Part 2 of the debate
factions head to head on behind the headlines part 2
broadcast 25 March 2010
Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to the second part of
this discussion featuring the two rival spokespersons for the Zimbabwe
National Students Union, ZINASU, that is Kudakwashe Chakabva and
Wisdom Mgagara. Mr. Chakabva is representing the faction led by
Tafadzwa Mugwadi, that's the president and Wisdom Mgagara
is representing the faction led by President Joshua Chinyere.
Now last week we discussed
a couple of issues and this week we continue but I first asked about
the Secretariat which, the last time we heard led to the collapse
of talks to have one Congress to unite the two unions so I first
asked, is the Secretariat really that much of a problem?
Mgagara: I don't think the
issue of the Secretariat is a problem. As the leadership of ZINASU
we are working well with the Secretariat and I'm sure that
these guys were trying to hide behind their fingers by citing the
issue of the Secretariat but it is something which is completely
out of the story. I'm sure these guys they also have their
own Secretariat where they have Munjodzi (Mutandiri) as their coordinator
where there's someone who's writing some alerts on behalf
of the so-called spokesperson, so they also have a Secretariat so
what's the problem of us having a Secretariat? The issue is
not about a Secretariat.
Guma: OK so let me quickly
bring in Kudakwashe Chakabva here from the Tafadzwa Mugwadi executive.
I keep having to remind our listeners so that they know who is who
here. Kudakwashe, two ZINASU Executives issuing alerts liaising
with students, there was that whole messy situation at Bindura where
the different Executives issued different statements contradicting
each other, how has it been for the students? How are students handling
this? Who do they recognize and how are they deciding who to recognize?
Chakabva: That's a very critical question.
Look if you analyze the issue it all ends up with us competing for
SRC elections but the trend has been that this so-called legitimate
student leaders, the Wisdom and company, they have been losing all
over Zimbabwe. The students have been rejecting them, totally rejecting
them, leaving only a recluse, if you go to for instance to Harare
Poly, they are actually considered an external factor, they are
not even known, this is actually the place where the International
Relations Secretary where he is from but they are totally unknown
Everywhere, even if you
at the University of Zimbabwe, they are not even known there. If
you go back to the violence that involved their president Joshua
Chinyere he was beaten by a group of students who were disgruntled
after he was, he had insulted them that we have beaten your president,
we have beaten your national executive council members and because
what can you do and the students responded accordingly, they assaulted
him. Look that actually serves to indicate that the students of
Zimbabwe have confidence in the National Executive Council of President
Tafadzwa Mugwadi and the whole National Executive Council.
That's a clear
indication. To compete with people who masquerade as leadership
to ask ah that's something else we do not stand to compete
with anyone, we actually stand as a forum to defend the right to
education, not to compete with certain external forces, people who
are pushing an agenda that even themselves do not understand. Our
struggle is a principled struggle for the right to education.
Guma: OK right you've
raised an issue there which I wanted to go into next, the issue
of violence. The Memorial Service for the late Susan Tsvangirai
according to reports we did obviously was turned into a battleground
where the executive led by Tafadzwa Mugwadi, I think he was the
one that was assaulted allegedly by MDC youths. Let me start with
Wisdom here, your faction was accused of having coordinated these
attacks with the MDC youths at the Memorial, what's your side
of the story?
Mgagara: Oh alright,
before I go on can I just take you back on the issue that what my
other fellow was saying on the issue that the students are rejecting
us. Actually if you can make your own research go to Kwekwe Poly,
go to Mutare Poly, go to Gweru Poly, go to Bulawayo Poly ask those
guys, even their president and ask them who is their President in
terms of ZINASU, they'll tell you Joshua Chinyere I'm
surprised the other guy was saying that we are not recognized by
students I think that this is something else which is far-fetched
and which is not reality . . .
Guma: OK just quickly
answer on the issue of violence Wisdom, we're kinda running
out of time so I really want to touch on that. What really happened
at Mai Tsvangirai's Memorial?
Mgagara: On the issue
of violence, I'm not sure, in fact I'm hearing from
different angles that we engineered violence there but I don't
think we were responsible for that. In fact I'm not even aware
that there were people beaten there. I'm hearing from you
and hearing it from other people. What I simply know is that we
went to the Memorial and it was a successful thing and the president
Joshua Chinyere gave a very nice speech, that's all I know.
I don't even know about those (incidents) of violence. The
only thing which I know that those guys, those morons, those thugs,
they attacked us. That's what I know, I don't even . . .
Guma: But Wisdom, I think
you are being insincere because I did interview you and you did
accuse the other side of trying to politicize the Memorial and in
your own words you said the MDC youths had to administer physical
counseling. Did you not say that?
Chakabva: The comrade
has got short memory.
Mgagara: No what I can
simply tell you is that I had to hear it from the other guys that
those guys they received physical counseling from the youth, after
they insulted the Prime Minister, they insulted the President of
the MDC and therefore they thought probably couldn't sit down,
but I'm not saying that, I'm not actually denying but
I'm saying I'm not well clear on what happened . . .
Chakabva: Not sure you
were interviewed or what?
Guma: OK so can we bring
this to Kudakwashe Chakabva, after the assault on members of your
Executive, was it then retaliation that members of the Chinyere
Executive were attacked near Fourth Street? Were you retaliating?
Chakabva: Actually as
a matter of principle our National Executive Council was mandated
by the Congress, Congress resolution - we denounce violence
in all its forms and manifestations. We condemn what happened to
the beating of students, of student leaders by whichever force representing
whoever. We condemn, it is not in us to use violence against students.
What happened at the Memorial Service was a regrettable scenario.
We were shocked to hear
that the students of Zimbabwe were assaulted at a ceremony where
the MDC was actually hosting because it is our belief that the MDC
is a product of the Zimbabwe National Students Union. What happened
also to Joshua Chinyere is a regrettable thing but what we can say
to you is that it wasn't retaliation. Actually what happened
is that the students of Harare Poly, University of Zimbabwe, Morgan
Zintec as well as Seke, that it is our culture that when we gather
for national events we go as a team with our institutions, constituencies,
so when they saw that their leadership was being harassed they were
in a state of shock and as soon as they got an opportunity to come
to the office, they came, I addressed them in the company of the
We told them what transpired
at Glamis Stadium, they were disappointed that the MDC on their
way back to town they bumped into Joshua Chinyere, Wisdom as well
as Grant Tabvurei they had the audacity, the three of them, they
had the audacity to say to the students, look we assaulted your
leaders, if we could assault your leaders, then what will we do
to you as individuals? The students fumed, they were provoked and
they acted, they descended upon these people, these comrades and
they assaulted them. I'm told they even chased them up until
they arrived into Harvest House (MDC HQ). It is not our, it is not
in us to use violence as a tool of political objective it is not
in us . . .
Guma: Wisdom, ah sorry
to interrupt Kudakwashe, let me bring in Wisdom here because I'm
sure this discussion on the violence will go on and on with no end.
On a more positive note Wisdom Mgagara, are there any grounds for
the two factions to meet halfway, compromise and have one united
Union because at the end of the day, it's the students that
suffer with two competing factions battling for influence? Are there
any grounds to say OK let's convene an all-stakeholders conference
to try and map a way forward and dissolve these differences?
Mgagara: Ah what I can
simply say is that as a spokesperson, I speak the position of the
Union and the Union are the students, students of Zimbabwe are the
compass. We can only go back to the students and they'll make
a decision. If the students can decide that we have an extraordinary
meeting whereby we have the other guys coming, trying to settle
the differences, I think there's no way I can dismiss that . . .
Guma: Kudakwashe is your
Executive willing to do that? Have an all-stakeholders conference
where all students come in and try and resolve this once and for
all because only one united congress can sort this mess out?
Chakabva: I think there
are two dimensions to this scenario for a united ZINASU, that remember
we actually believe or are of the opinion that we are two incompatible,
ideologically incompatible groups and because of that some of us
move with Congress Resolutions. Congress Resolution Article 14,
Subsection Three stipulates clearly that we have no agenda of uniting
with a group of dissidents. We are actually calling these dissidents
to come for a hearing so that they can answer for their habit of
violating the Zimbabwe National Students Union constitution . . .
Guma: But would you not
agree, would you not agree Kudakwashe, Kudakwashe, would you not
agree though that elections, just in the same way that Zimbabwe's
squabbling political parties are viewing an election as a final
solution, would you not agree that putting this to the vote of students,
irregardless of what this or that constitution says but just really
finding something within the rules that allows the students to once
and for all decide who should be the legitimate leader? Would that
not be the way forward?
Chakabva: We were elected
into power by the students of Zimbabwe, we have confidence in their . . .
Guma: Yeah but that was
via one Congress which you held. My point is, why don't you
have a united Congress where whoever is elected there becomes the
Chakabva: Yah I wanted
to answer that. We have confidence that the students of Zimbabwe
have in us, is the same confidence that we have in them that they
will elect students leadership with an ideology that is pro-student,
an ideology that is not in abidance with money like our fellow colleagues
now masquerading as ZINASU. We are willing to enter into an election
if that is to help the students of Zimbabwe, the ordinary student
who is suffering from exorbitant fees every day. We are willing
to do that for as long as we ensure the right to education, we do
Guma: Wisdom Mgagara
what say you to that? Is it feasible that the two unions can have
one Congress and try and resolve this? Is it not in the interests
of the students that this be done?
Mgagara: Basically it
is in the hands of the students but I'm sure that the other
group which is purporting to be the student leaders, in fact they
will deny that because they actually know that they are not known
by the students. I think it will be a very, very difficult way to
try and settle the problem. What I can simply say is that the students
of Zimbabwe they have been exposed to these harsh conditions whereby
we have the education sector being characterized by dropouts and
this has even affected us, our operation because some other people
are controlling the student community, so the issue here is that
if the students decide that where we go for whatever is there to
unite the students let it be so but make sure I know that the students
will decide on the good thing which will make the Unions work again
which I know that President Joshua Chinyere will retain the vote
of the president and will lead the student union.
Final question, I pose this question because we are running out
of time but I'll ask this question to both of you and try
and answer it briefly starting with you Kudakwashe Chakabva, if
and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were to find a common
position with the MDC with regard to the constitution making process
do you think the differences within the student union will continue?
Chakabva: Actually we
think that the differences within the student union are not actually
a manifestation of the constitutional agenda. It is actually a few
individuals probably trying to foster something they do not have,
do not have the people of Zimbabwe in mind. In terms of going back
to the MDC we are prepared, we formed the MDC but the differences
with these people actually like you said, like you proposed, probably
an election would send a clear message to the students of Zimbabwe
that who really is the leadership.
OK Wisdom, same question to you, if the MDC, ZCTU,
NCA were to find a common position do you think the differences
within the students union would remain?
Mgagara: Actually like
what I said before that it's very unfortunate that we have
some of us who have been lost and misled and to the extent that
they are following some peoples' agendas, like the Madhuku
agenda. If Madhuku and Morgan Tsvangirai ever settled and agree
on a single position I'm sure those guys would never, they
will have no where to go because the position of the students is
clear they are going to have a constitution and these guys in trying
to push the Madhuku agenda, they will go nowhere so I think it's
clear, it's clear that the differences will end because they
will have no-one to protect them.
Guma: OK gentlemen thank
you so much for joining us. I had with me the two spokespersons
from the two rival ZINASU unions that is Kudakwashe Chakabva representing
the Tafadzwa Mugwadi executive and Wisdom Mgagara representing the
President Joshua Chinyere executive. Gentlemen thank you for joining
me on Behind the Headlines.
Chakabva: You are welcome.
Mgagara: Thanks a lot.
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