President Robert Mugabe remains the single biggest threat to national security in Zimbabwe, opposition MDC president Welshman Ncube (WN) has said. Ncube last week talked to The Standard Senior Reporter Richard Chidza (RC) about the prospects of an opposition coalition ahead of the 2018 elections, the possibility of a single candidate to face Mugabe and the recent wave of protests. Below are excerpts;
the big interview BY RICHARD CHIDZA
RC: How involved is your party in the opposition coalition proposals? What is the link between Coalition of Democrats (Code) for which you will be chair next month and the National Election Reform Agenda (Nera)?
WN: Code is a political coalition of parties that have agreed on the need to fight the 2018 elections from a common platform with a single candidate for each elective office from the president down to the local councillor.
Code is in constant and on-going informal and formal conversations with all key political parties with a view to arriving at a position where each and every political party opposed to the continuation in office of the Zanu PF government will fight from the same corner and platform. But Code is much more than a coming together for electoral purposes and is thus a democratic platform where like-minded political parties, bound by common values and objectives collectively take responsibility for providing leadership and solutions which address the multiple and complex challenges facing our nation. Membership is open to all opposition political parties and hopefully civil society organisations in the near future.
On the other hand, my understanding of Nera, as its name suggests, is that it is a platform of political parties which have agreed to work together under the umbrella of Nera to campaign for both the implementation of electoral reforms which are already part of our laws under the Constitution and the Electoral Act and the making of further reforms which remain necessary and needed, arising out of our experience with the 2013 harmonised elections.
As Code, we remain firmly committed to the idea of a coalition of all political parties opposed to Zanu PF and are working tirelessly to reach out to all such parties without exception.
RC: What is your party position on the issue of a single presidential candidate for all opposition parties against President Mugabe in 2018, or when elections are held?
WN: I have already answered this question in my answer to your previous question by indicating that Code, of which MDC is a full member, is irrevocably committed to working with others to build a single coalition whose candidates will face Zanu PF candidates in 2018 right from the office of president to that of councillor.
RC: Does your party accept Joice Mujuru and or Morgan Tsvangirai as coalition leaders given their respective past and what is your personal relationship with the two?
WN: Who the presidential candidate for the coalition is going to be if we become successful in building that grand coalition is a matter for parties and members of the coalition to agree upon. Both as Code and MDC — we will fully and unconditionally back the agreed candidate, whoever that may be.
RC: Do you have faith — are you prepared to take part in elections — under the prevailing electoral playfield and your view of Nera’s preoccupation with the electoral playfield
vis-a-vis other issues that affect election outcomes in Zimbabwe?
WN: I believe that all factors which go into making a free and fair election and which assist to ensure that election outcomes match the true will of the people need to be historically addressed. The opposition cannot afford to take part in elections under the present electoral framework where vast areas of reforms contained in the Constitution and the Electoral law lie unimplemented. As long as electoral reforms which we included in the Constitution and agreed to during the tenure of the inclusive government are not implemented, the electoral system remains overwhelmingly skewed in favour of Zanu PF.
The non-implementation of electoral reforms is a major hindrance in ensuring multi-party democracy and ensuring that electoral outcomes truly reflect the true will of the people. Ignoring this crucial factor only legitimises Zanu PF fraud. The independence of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), involvement of the Registrar-General in voter registration, an accurate and readily accessible voters’ roll, fair electoral funding, voter education, voter registration, transparent ballot paper counting and disbursements; observation and monitoring; access to both public and private media in campaigning for all political players, post-election happenings — are factors still heavily skewed in favour of Zanu PF and if this situation goes on uncorrected till the next election it means the outcome is already predetermined. Zanu PF directly or indirectly cannot be both the referee and player at the same time.
RC: What is your view on the usefulness of on-going mass protests in the country and the new wave of anti-government movements such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka?
WN: I fully support all citizens’ peaceful actions designed and intended to bring to an end the suffering of the citizens of this beautiful country so badly and cynically ruined by Zanu PF. These protests are necessary and long overdue. However, they must remain peaceful at all times including when young angry citizens are provoked by the police and other State agents bent on discrediting these citizens’ actions. When we resort to violence, even when highly-provoked, we undermine our moral standing to resist the machinations of the regime which have brought us to this state of affairs. Thus, demonstrations, stayaways, marches, Yes, Yes, but violence No, No.
It is also imperative that those who seek to take action and to demonstrate must have a game plan, an end game with measurable outcomes.
RC: President Robert Mugabe’s unrestrained attack on the judiciary has drawn criticism from across the board. Do you think he has become a threat to Zimbabwe as a nation state and its institutions?
WN: He has not become a threat; he has “always” been a threat right from the days of Gukurahundi to this day.
RC: Do you think Zimbabwe can hold up (economically and politically) until the 2018 polls?
WN: The Zanu PF government must accept that it has failed. With that acceptance comes possibilities of settlement which can take us to 2018. I am neither a soothsayer nor a crystal ball reader. What I know is that enough is enough. Our suffering as a people needs not last a day longer. Zimbabweans are in deep pain. Poverty and hunger stalk the nation. We must bring this to an end somehow, soon.
RC: The current political architecture from the opposition to the ruling party seems to have failed Zimbabweans collectively. What is your view?
WN: It is not the architecture that has failed us but Zanu PF. As opposition, we have even won elections in which Zanu PF has refused to hand over power and cooked election results. – The Standard