The Standard News Editor, Patrice Makova (PM) last week spoke to Maxwell Shumba (MS) (pictured below), Tsvangirai’s new chief political strategist.
PM: What is your role as the chief strategist?
MS: As president, Tsvangirai leads the party in strategy and policy developments. As chief political strategist, I lead efforts to help him develop strategies and policies to bring real empowerment to the Zimbabwean people through political change.
PM: Who appointed you and why you?
MS: I was formally appointed by Tsvangirai after he noted that the party needed a new direction and a new thinking. Why me? Because the president has seen the value of what I bring to the table in the process to democratise Zimbabwe.
I am a son of MDC since its inception and it’s an honour that of all the quality people in MDC he chose to put on my shoulder this heavy responsibility.
I also enjoy very good camaraderie in MDC across the board having worked with several top MDC leaders, Elton Mangoma, Abednigo Bhebhe, Roy Bennett, Toendepi Shonhe, Obert Gutu, Nelson Chamisa, Lovemore Moyo and the president himself just to name a few.
PM: What is Tsvangirai’s new strategy in view of the recent fights in the party?
MS: The president believes that any actions by any party member should be dealt with within the confines of our constitution.
The apparent infighting in the party is viewed by the president as cases of indiscipline in some cases and other cases opportunity to learn from our members what is concerning them and their frustration.
The president understands their feeling and does not wish them any harm as they express their feelings in public or in private. He is very welcoming to those who have had a change in heart.
He is very cognisant that the July 2013 debacle has been a very painful experience to the MDC family and as a large family, he understands that the members would express their frustrations in different manners and as president, he encourages that at all times when members decide to go public with their frustrations, they be mindful not to bring the name of the party into disrepute.
As a democratic party, the president understands that in the big tent there might be in-fights and he has deployed party seniors to help educate those who might have lost focus on the need for them to see the bigger picture and not lose focus of the objective which brought us together.
One of them is Engineer Elias Mudzuri (pictured right) who is very solid behind the president and has been tasked by the president to play key role in the party’s efforts to rehabilitate the MDC members who might have been affected negatively during the turbulent episode.
PM: Are you confident Tsvangirai will overcome the internal squabbles and the scandals surroundings his personal life?
MS: Yes indeed. Many Zimbabweans in large numbers are rallying around his leadership, as can be seen by the large number of attendees to his rallies and an unprecedented number of intellectuals are coming to join the ranks of MDC in many capacities, many are volunteering to help the party deliver the change people really believe in.
Indeed the president has already overcome this hurdle and there is ample evidence that he is the strongest opposition to Zanu PF misrule.
The party remains very strong and continues to be a house which shelters the hopes of Zimbabweans for a better future. MDC remains stronger and will be stronger but we are very much aware of the realities of the challenges we face on this journey.
PM: What of the current infighting?
MS: It will come to pass and it is not something that the president is focused on expending a lot of energy on.
The president believes that disciplinary issues will be dealt with by the party organs within the parameters of our constitution.
He is not vindictive and welcomes everyone back. The president also believes that his door is open to talk to anyone who is well meaning within and outside the party as long they share the same focus and vision with him.
PM: Where do you see Tsvangirai and the MDC-T in the next one or two years?
MS: Rejuvenated, strengthened and still the people’s choice to lead MDC and Zimbabwe.
Dr Shumba was chairman of the MDC-T USA Province (MDC USA Province) and a founding member of the National Constitutional Assembly. He is an Environmental Regulatory Scientist with a PHD in chemistry.