HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has reiterated his willingness to work with former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her newly-formed Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), saying the enemies of the people who needed to be booted out of power were President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, Tsvangirai welcomed Mujuru to “the side of the people”, adding that the formal entrance into politics of ZPF would serve as an additional arsenal to long-suffering Zimbabweans in their quest to dislodge Mugabe and Zanu PF from power.
The battle-hardened MDC leader and former prime minister in the government of national unity said the “sad reality and incontrovertible truth” was that Mugabe and Zanu PF were the “singular negative catalyst” behind Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises of the past 36 years.
In that light, he added, all the people and organisations who believed in a democratic and better Zimbabwe, and who were prepared to put their “bodies and souls on the line in the fight against the Zanu PF kleptocracy” were for the people, and therefore, allies “in the struggle”.
“For me, they (Mujuru and ZPF) are definitely not the enemy. They appeal to a certain constituency and are part of the opposition now. They are certainly not the problem.
“The problem is, and has always been Zanu PF. So, in terms of accepting… says Mugabe, Zanu PF will be ‘chicken feed’ in 2018 their role and space in the struggle, there is no issue there. I see nothing wrong with them,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC president spoke after Mujuru officially launched her party in Harare last week, where she also openly expressed her willingness to work with other opposition parties in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Picking up on the partnership theme yesterday, which has sent Zanu PF into panic mode ahead of Zimbabwe’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, Tsvangirai said it was clear that the MDC shared many beliefs with ZPF on critical issues such as democracy and respect for property rights.
However, the indefatigable former trade unionist cautioned that there was a significant hurdle that opposition parties, Mujuru’s ZPF included, had to deal with — even if they worked together and won elections — and this related to how to transfer power.
“There are many State institutions that continue to be abused to thwart the people’s will. Whether it’s Morgan Tsvangirai or Amai Mujuru, or anybody else, we have to force conditions, conditions that will allow for the mandate of the people to be observed.
“The fact is that Mugabe has always sustained his power through military means and pillars. And this is not likely to stop anytime soon.
“On the other hand, we know and have never said that the military is an enemy of the people. We have always said people must be professional and that they must respect the Constitution.
“If the Constitution were to be observed in both letter and spirit, I can tell you that Zanu PF will not last one more day in power. If we were able to beat them in 2008 as we did, in 2018 they will be chicken feed,” a confident Tsvangirai said.
In an interview with our sister paper, the Daily News last week, Mujuru also spoke about the country’s uneven political playing field, but suggested that she had the capacity to reach out to the critical security sector that is led by her liberation struggle comrades.
Analysts also say Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win elections again.
However, they warn that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu PF would use “its usual thuggish and foul methods” to retain power in 2018.
Expounding on the scope and prospects of a broad opposition coalition, Tsvangirai said while such a move was ideal, even necessary, such a union should not be constructed by political elites alone, without the buy-in of ordinary Zimbabweans and grassroots supporters.
“We have always believed that coalitions should not be pacts among elites. They should be about the people. They can’t just be deals between a few leaders.
“Coalitions should be strategic partnerships that serve to achieve the will and objectives of the people, not just opportunistic vehicles for a few people sitting around and deliberating on who gets what positions,” Tsvangirai underlined.
“We are fighting for a democratic process, the future of this country and ensuring that the people’s will is respected. If the right conditions are there, and the correct political spirit is there, then the opportunity for partnerships is there.
“But I want to emphasise that this is not about positions because the obsession with positions is a fight to the bottom, instead of fighting to ensure that the objective to dislodge the current evil system is won,” he added.
Tsvangirai praised Zimbabweans and his MDC colleagues for keeping on fighting for what “is right in the noble quest to remove the dictatorship in power using democratic means”.
“We have always stuck to the democratic process because we believe in the democratic change of governments. Unfortunately, in trying to push for that agenda, we have met so many thuggish obstacles, including violence and the rigging of elections.
“It is a fair comment to say nowhere else in the world have you ever seen a democratic movement taking on a dictatorship like we have done using democratic means. That’s what defines us and differentiates us from others.
“If you also look at what we have achieved, we have managed to redefine the State through the new Constitution and forced Zanu PF to accept that it has no inherent power and monopoly on the governance of this country. Given all this, the future can only be bright,” he said.