Our news editor Constantine Chimakure on Tuesday posed questions to the party’s spokesperson Nelson Chamisa on the meaning of the disengagement and its implications, among other issues. Below are the excerpts.
Chimakure: In layman’s language, can you explain your party’s decision to “disengage” in relation to Zanu PF and the inclusive government.
Chamisa: We have a right of freedom of dissociation from Zanu PF because of its dishonesty, unreliability and inconsistencies, lack of paradigm shift and its lack of respect for us as an equal partner. Zanu PF has exhibited encyclopaedic levels of insincerity and palpable deficit of goodwill. However, we are not disengaging from the government. There is no pullout from government because we are government ourselves. It is impossible for one to pull out of themselves.
Zanu PF is not government and government is not necessarily Zanu PF. The inclusive government has three parties which are signatories to the global political agreement (GPA). There cannot be any inclusive government without any one of the three. We won the people’s mandate. We have a covenant with the people; that promise, a promise of leadership, the duty to lead, the call of representation. Who are we to abdicate a responsibility to govern given the overwhelming confidence the people of Zimbabwe have in the party of excellence, the MDC? Disengagement is only a gesture of disenchantment, a demonstration of unhappiness over a political logjam in the implementation of the GPA. Disengagement is a signal call to the guarantors to expeditiously intervene and adjudicate as a way of unlocking the political gridlock.
Chimakure: What were the reasons for the disengagement? Was it because of the incarceration of your treasurer-general Roy Bennett?
Chamisa: It is important that the gains and processes of the inclusive government do not slide back, that is, there are irreversible and bankable. We have been worried as a party that each time we are planning, others are plotting. Each time we are building, others are destroying. When we see lights others create darkness.
In this inclusive government it is supposed to be give and take affair. Unfortunately, we have been giving and giving and giving without taking anything in retain. We know that the Bible says blessed is the hand that gives than the one that takes. In our case we are simply asking blessings as the hand that has been giving.
The people of Zimbabwe deserve hope, food, jobs, medical care and a happy life. To deliver the above, stability and credibility of government are key ingredients. It is in this context that all outstanding issues that threaten the stability and credibility of the inclusive government are jettisoned.
The reasons for disengagement are therefore self-evident and have to do with the continued failure to honestly resolve the outstanding issues in the GPA. The selective application of the rule of law, non-appointment of governors and ambassadors, senior government appointments, the vile and hate speech in the public media are just a few manifestations of fundamental issues which we cannot just sit and watch.
Chimakure: Does the disengagement affect business of government at operational level, for example, duties and responsibilities of ministries under the MDC?
Chamisa: This disengagement fundamentally affects those platforms where we have direct contact with Zanu PF, which means cabinet and the council of ministers. Our ministers are going to their offices and executing their duties diligently as ministers of excellence.
Chimakure: Why have you not informed President Mugabe of your decision?
Chamisa: The statement by the party president on 16 October 2009 reached every living room in Zimbabwe. Every citizen is aware of that progressive and patriotic decision, including our colleagues in Zanu PF and their First Secretary.
Chimakure: During your party’s national council meeting in Bulawayo on September 13 there was a resolution to consult your party structures and Zimbabweans at large on whether or not the party should disengage from the government. The consultations were still going on when you decided last Friday to disengage. Why that decision when consultations were on going?
Chamisa: The MDC is about the people, for the people and from the people. Indeed, we took a decision to consult the people on the sustainability and worthiness of the inclusive government in delivering real change. That process is proceeding exceedingly well since October 1 2009. So far, the party has held 1 233 meetings in the various wards and by the time we complete the exercise, we hope to have held meetings in all the 1 958 wards in the country. Every village, every suburb, every farm shall be consulted.
The decision to disengage from Zanu PF is not a pre-emption of the on-going consultative process, which in essence will be a referendum on the inclusive government. The action we have taken is directed at Zanu PF pending the direction from the people.
Chimakure: In your view, how can this impasse be resolved?
Chamisa: Coalition governments are always difficult propositions. The forces of continuity are always in contestation with the forces of change. It is this contest that should make the political parties constituting the coalition to constantly and genuinely communicate; to forever create the meeting of the minds on the interpretation, the letter and spirit of the GPA.
Chimakure: What should the Sadc and the AU do given the current circumstances?
Chamisa: It is important that African problems be resolved by African institutions. African challenges require African responses. In this regard it is important for African institutions to deal speedily, expeditiously and satisfactorily to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. More importantly, logic must be caused to visit our colleagues in Zanu PF on the profit and benefit of implementing the GPA to the full. No political party or signatory should be allowed to run away from their signature either in word or in deed. A special meeting to deal with all the outstanding issues wholly and squarely would be the best prescription for the ailment afflicting our country. Sadc and the AU, as guarantors, occupy the umpire’s role in the resolution of the impasse.
Chimakure: What do you say to allegations peddled in the state-controlled media that your decision was influenced by the US, Britain and other Western countries who are pushing for fresh elections?
Chamisa: That is a tired song. The state media behave like an old record stuck in a groove. The state media have become a theatre of fiction, a factory of falsehoods and a conveyor belt of perfidy.
It is an insult perpetrated by a few elites that black people in Zimbabwe cannot think for themselves. Ian Smith used to suggest that “his blacks” were the happiest on the continent and were only being influenced by the communists.
The neo-colonial inheritors of Smith’s legacy still want to perpetuate the condescending myth that black Zimbabweans cannot think for themselves. Our decisions are coined and passed in the villages and suburbs of Zimbabwe by ordinary men and women in the countryside and in urban areas. This is why the party won the majority of votes. It is an insult to the people of Zimbabwe that a party controlled from Washington or Berlin is the majority party in Zimbabwe. Generally, in life, allegations usually grow on weak minds and dishonest hearts.
Chimakure: Are elections the best solution to the political crisis and can the elections take place before the crafting of a new constitution?
Chamisa: Ideally, a people-driven constitution is the foundation of a free and fair election. In all cases elections are inevitable. The GPA is implicit that elections will be held after the consultative process. It is important that this country holds free and fair elections to finalise the unfinished business of 2008.