LOSING presidential candidate in last year’s election and leader of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement, Dr Simba Makoni, says Zimbabwe’s current political impasse can be resolved by forming a Transitional National Authority.
Our news editor Constantine Chimakure put questions to Makoni this week on his movement and the political crisis in the country. Below are excerpts.
Chimakure: Dr Makoni, can you give us an update on the transformation of Mavambo into a political party?
Makoni: At the beginning of August 2008 we set up a steering committee tasked specifically to guide the transformation of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn from a movement of volunteers into a political party. By the end of 2008 a draft constitution had been produced and distributed for examination and critique among activists of the movement countrywide. Currently, our main focus is on setting up interim structures at the provincial, district, ward and local levels, to manage the consultations leading to party formation and initiate membership mobilisation.
Chimakure: When is the party going to be launched and how formidable do you think it will be given the dominance of both Zanu PF and MDC?
Makoni: We plan to launch the party before the end of the first quarter of 2009.
As to how formidable the party will be, I believe that given a normal political environment, we will quickly grow to be the biggest party in the country and form the next government. People are sick and tired of the politics of power that both Zanu PF and the MDC are engaged in. They feel abandoned and betrayed by those who are fighting for power and positions for themselves while the country burns.
Feedback from across the country suggests that the people have lost faith in the de facto two-party system we have in Zimbabwe now. They believe that our movement offers a credible and viable basis for an alternative; the third way to a government committed to serving the people.
We do not believe that the MDC-Tsvangirai and Zanu PF are still dominant in terms of popular appeal; they were dominant up to March 29 2008. Zanu PF’s behaviour during the run-off campaign inflicted immense pain on the people; and the MDC-Tsvangirai and Zanu PF’s conduct after September 15 has not only led people into despair and disdain, but also resentment and rejection.
Chimakure: It is common cause that the votes you obtained in the presidential election if they had gone to either President Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai, an outright winner would have emerged. Don’t you think that you should have been part to the power-sharing talks?
Makoni: Yes, as a purely arithmetic exercise, if the votes cast for me were added to either Mugabe or Tsvangirai, then the one receiving them would have achieved an outright majority. But conversely, also as a purely arithmetic exercise, if the votes cast for either Mugabe or Tsvangirai were added to mine, I would have won an outright majority. So, a theoretical arithmetic exercise serves no useful purpose in the current state of our nation.
However, let us place on record that the majority of people who voted for me were not going to vote for either Mugabe or Tsvangirai, even if I hadn’t joined the presidential race. Remember, there was a surge of people who registered as voters soon after I announced my candidacy. Therefore, both Mugabe and Tsvangirai should appreciate that I energised the election and opened space for keener competition than would have been between just the two of them.
Regarding participation in the power-sharing talks, allow me to re-state that our proposition soon after the outcome of the March 29 2008 poll was announced, was that the proposed presidential run-off be cancelled, and national leaders from all key constituencies, not just political formations, engage each other towards the formation of Transitional National Authority. This was not accepted.
When the tripartite negotiations commenced and the framework and focus of the discussion were defined as “sharing power”, we had no appetite for it. We are not in the politics of power and control, but are motivated by a commitment to participate in, and contribute to, national affairs and serving the people.
As we are all now painfully aware, the two protagonists are fully committed to wresting maximum power for themselves and their allies while the people die.Â Zimbabwe cannot afford a bloated administration of five people in the presidency and premiership, 31 cabinet ministers and 15 deputies – this is rank madness and cruelty. No sir, we hanker for no place at such a table.
Chimakure: What do you think is the best way to deal with the current political crisis?
Makoni: First, let me say that we joined other Zimbabweans in welcoming both the Memorandum of Understanding and the Global Political Agreement. We also join other citizens in lamenting the delay in the formation of the so-called inclusive government. We are saddened that the reasons for the delay have to do with power for individuals rather than principles and priorities of national interest.
Therefore, we see no real prospect that the current impasse will be readily resolved. Consequently, we consider that the following is a more feasible and realistic approach:
That the leaders of the two MDCs and Zanu PF re-dedicate themselves to work for the people; to subject their personal and respective organisational ambitions to the interests of the people and country. I urge them to agree to a fresh approach to cooperation in a broad-based Transitional National Authority, whose principal objectives are:
=solving the humanitarian crises of food shortages and disease outbreaks;
=restoringÂ law and order and the security of all citizens;
=stabilisation of the economy, especially restoring normal supply of goods and services;
=reviving normal banking and other financial services;
=restoring health, education, water and sanitation services to all citizens;
=restoring the country to normal cooperative relationships with regional neighbours and the international community as a whole;
=guiding an inclusive constitution-making process towards a democratic national constitution; and,
=preparing the country for fresh, free and fair elections, under a new democratic constitution.
=That such a broad-based Transitional National Authority be produced by a new inclusive forum of all national leaders, from politics, civil society, traditional leadership, faith organisations, business and professional sectors.
Chimakure: Some of the people in the movement accuse you of developing a “Mugabeism”. They claim that you have allocated yourself six vehicles and that
you are promoting tribalism in the movement by recruiting people from Manicaland into the movement’s national management committee. What do you say to the allegations?
Makoni: I doubt that such allegations are coming from genuine activists of our movement. If they are authentic, why are they not making these allegations in the fora of our movement, rather than outside?
I use only one vehicle, allocated to me openly by the relevant authority in the movement.
The allegation that I “recruited” people from Manicaland shows the ignorance of those making it. From the time that I announced my candidacy, people came forward from all over the country, and from all walks of life, and volunteered to support my campaign in various ways. When other candidates joined to contest in parliamentary and local authority elections, more volunteers came forward to support both the other candidates and myself. Currently, we are a movement of volunteers.
Our leadership team is national in character. At the provincial level, our leadership teams have members from most districts in each province. So, this tribalism allegation is a mischievous falsehood.