Opposition political parties in Zimbabwe have been pushing for President Robert Mugabe’s ouster because they believe he has overstayed in power. Some leading politicians such as Tendai Biti of the People’s Democratic Party have been calling for a national transition council (NTC), which will be like a caretaker government comprising various players for the remaining period to lead the country until the next elections in 2018. Our reporter Obey Manayiti (OM) spoke to Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) president Elton Mangoma (EM) to hear his views about the NTC and other issues.
OM: What’s your take on the NTC? Are you supportive of that kind of arrangement to solve the current Zimbabwean crisis?
EM: We strongly support the view that Mugabe must go and must go now because that will change the dynamics in the country.
His continued stay really increases the risk to the country of having a very old man failing to wake up one day.
And in that regard, RDZ’s view is that when Mugabe goes, Zanu PF in terms of the constitution, chooses the person who will complete the term and we don’t care who that person is, it must be a Zanu PF person who must complete the term and go through the next elections.
The NTC will only be able to come in two respects, otherwise if it comes when Mugabe is still there, it will not be different from the government of national unity that we had before and we know its successes and failures and for me, it brings a lot of pain at a personal level because, not only did I suffer, but we failed to bring desired results.
OM: What will be the rationale of putting another Zanu PF candidate when you say the ruling party is the one that destroyed the country?
EM: For me, Mugabe played a critical role and the lack of rule of law is actually because we have what we call Mugabe law. He wakes up one day and says what the law should be.
Even on indigenisation recently, he literally rewrote the law himself and because of that, he has probably created over 50% of the problems and coupled with that, he is an old man. If he was still young, we could take him on, but if he dies in office it will bring a lot more chaos and we cannot, as a country, afford that.
OM: Don’t you feel that will create another tyranny because the person who comes would try to consolidate his own power? What makes you think the next person would be different? Do you think there is a culture in Zanu PF where people just let go of power, especially after serving two years?
EM: It’s possible and we have seen it with Joice Banda in Malawi and in many other places. It is a better precedence to set because that is what we agreed in our constitution. It’s not a question of just putting in someone and we see a change and we would be where we can say it is now different.
OM: What would be the difference?
EM: We would have removed the risk of a person as strong as Mugabe who has been bending all the rules.
OM: Even if one of the vice-presidents takes over, don’t you think they will try to consolidate power so that in the next elections the incumbent still retains power?
EM: The enormity of the problems Zimbabwe is facing is such that it will never be replicated, so the only reason why we are saying he must go now is because he is a risk to this country. Anyone else will be a risk, but a much lesser risk and that’s the difference.
If you look at investment, whether local or foreign, it all hinges on the incredibility of Mugabe on the failure to respect the law. And that is what has dragged us to where we are now.
Over 50% of our problems were caused by Mugabe himself, so when he is gone the electorate will then say, was Mugabe the only real problem or that Zanu PF is also the problem and must also go?
OM: But do you think other opposition players will accept that arrangement?
EM: Well, the issue is that the arrangement which is there now is that Mugabe serves until 2018. I think as opposition — we all agree that Zanu PF and Mugabe are a huge liability to this country because he mismanaged the country and put us through all this trouble. We don’t think the NTC will be a solution because in that NTC, we are also going to have Zanu PF and that will be another GNU.
OM: But suppose those pushing for NTC are successful, will you be part of it?
EM: No, not at all, because we have been part of the GNU and it’s like part of another GNU. It doesn’t help us and it doesn’t help the people. We will stick outside and mobilise to then be able to form the next government in a legitimate way.