MDC-T chairman Morgen Komichi (MK) has dismissed swirling speculation pointing at a delicate rift between the party’s top leaders and says party leader, Nelson Chamisa is working well with secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora. Social media and other sources of information were last week running with unverified reports, including fake party letters, claiming that Mwonzora was under attack for, among several other “crimes” allegedly exhibiting ambitions to take over the presidium at a congress scheduled for next year.
The big interview: BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Komichi had a wide-ranging interview with our senior reporter, Xolisani Ncube (XN) in which they spoke about the alleged rift between the two leaders and other issues related to the party’s performance in the July 30 elections.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
XN: There are reports that the party suspended its secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora following a national council meeting on Wednesday, what is the true position?
MK: Let me be clear and straightforward on this issue. You have asked something which I think should be put to rest once and for all. As the MDC chairperson and a member of the standing committee, I want to state it here and now that Douglas Mwonzora was not suspended, and no one raised an issue against our secretary-general. We are aware that Zanu PF and its military operations are on a mission to put a wedge between the president and the secretary-general. We are aware of their operations. They did it before and now they have resorted to the same method of trying to destroy the MDC. During the entire meeting, let me say this, no one raised or even attempted to raise a complaint against our leader Mwonzora.
If you look at the letter itself, it is fake. It was generated by the Zanu PF system with the sole aim of creating division within the party so that we could start fighting each other. Our battle at the moment is against them and they know that. They now want to create a rift between the top leadership so that we divert our attention from core issues to our leadership. As far as I know, the MDC does not have an issue with Mwonzora.
For your own information, the person who is said to have signed that fake letter does not have the powers to write such a letter to a member of the standing committee. Even the signature is fake! This is an operation of Zanu PF which wants to push us into some crisis, but we will resist it and stand as a united front. We have been tricked in the same manner before using the same offices and now we are wiser.
XN: What went wrong in the July 30 elections which resulted in the party losing by such a wide margin in parliamentary polls?
MK: The July 30 elections were rigged, that is a fundamental issue which we must appreciate. As the MDC, we are satisfied that we did not lose this election, but Zanu PF stole it. They stole in an embarrassing manner.
XN: But we saw your MPs performing dismally compared to your presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa and there are allegations that this was because of institutional fights or internal misunderstandings.
MK: As I said, this election was rigged, they did not rig the presidential vote only, they also rigged the parliamentary vote and we have evidence to that effect. We have MPs like David Chimhini (Mutasa North) who were cheated. The electoral court refused to allow them to open the ballot boxes because they know that Zanu PF rigged the elections. They refused a recount and we are challenging some of these issues.
XN: You and Mwonzora are being accused of contributing to the loss by signing for double candidates in several constituencies. What is your response?
MK: That is rubbish, we did not sign for double candidates. We have a situation where some candidates forged our signatures and some of them abused our internal systems. We have some candidates whom we had signed for, but did not file their papers. Do you know that we did not have a candidate in Insiza North and why? This was because the candidate we had signed for from our alliance partners did not travel to Gwanda on nomination day. Do you know that we almost failed to field a candidate in Mudzi because the person we had signed for did not go to the nomination court and thank God, we had a second option whom we opted to go for? We have some candidates who were intimidated and had to be funded under the MDC Alliance by Zanu PF. Some were just stubborn and those we acted upon.
It is not that we did this thing deliberately, but we have explained to the structures what happened. We were fighting a rotten system which used all possible chicanery to win the vote.
XN: But you can’t talk of intimidation in areas like Harare South or Goromonzi West, what happened?
MK: In Harare South, we informed the other candidate that as a party that we had made a decision to support [Shadreck]Mashayamombe, but he just refused to co-operate. We don’t know who was influencing that decision, but the party had taken a position based on the strength of the candidate and popularity within the area. In Goromonzi, it is a matter of criminality which is before the courts. The other candidate forged the signature and the matter is before the courts. We did all we could, but we were fighting a system that used terror and money to play dirty.
XN: What do you think was the impact of Thokozani Khupe’s breakaway on the performance of MDC Alliance in the recent elections?
MK: To be honest, everyone in the party did not want madam [Thokozani] Khupe to go. We wanted to be as united as we could and we did all we could do to ensure she remained with us but we could not. As you know, when a person decides to go, no matter how much effort you put in, she will go and she went. If you recall very well, we sent emissaries, did all we could to bring her to the table but she just wanted to go. On the issue of the impact, I think it was not very much because she failed to win a seat directly, she tried by all means but the people’s project always prevails. So I think she did not do herself a favour.
XN: Any hopes that she could come and work with other members within the MDC?
MK: We are open and she is a valuable person within the MDC family. As long as she is willing to be part and parcel of the people, she is welcome. If the party decides that she should come back, that decision is open and she would be welcome. Remember, we once had Welshman Ncube on the other side of the MDC and now we are working together with a view to integrate all our alliance partners, so even Khupe is free to come back.
At the moment, we are mapping a way forward to ensure that we bring back the old MDC and rejuvenate the spirit of a new Zimbabwe. We also have other parties who were not in the alliance but are willing join the united force. So I think everything is possible.
XN: How do you intend to bring together these competing parties and their structures together, more so, given that the MDC is preparing for congress next year?
MK: By the time we go for congress, we would have finalised the entire process and we are going to open all posts to all members of the party. We are going to allow people to challenge for any post as a united family so that we are stronger and bigger.
XN: There are reports the British and the EU are pushing President Emmerson Mnangagwa to talk to MDC Alliance with the possibility of forming some kind of GNU arrangement. How far true is this?
MK: I have no information on that issue, I can’t speak on that.
XN: The MDC Alliance has threatened demonstrations. Don’t you think you are putting the lives of people at risk in the wake of the August 1 shootings by the army?
MK: Demonstrations are a constitutional issue and we don’t negotiate on that, we are a law-abiding party and we know that whenever we demonstrate, we do so for a cause. We should not deprive ourselves of our constitutional rights because we have people who break the law by killing protestors. All our demonstrations have been peaceful so we would not allow an illegality perpetrated by Zanu PF to deny us our fundamental rights. If Zanu PF and its military want to break the law, it is not up to us to stop them. We would be exercising our democratic right, which no one has a right to take away from the people. What happened on August 1 is a reflection of a system that does not respect the sanctity of life and engages in illegal activities.
XN: What is the MDC Alliance strategy going forward given that Zanu PF has a majority in Parliament and in light of alleged divisions within the party on the way forward?
KM: We are a party of history and we have managed to withstand all evil plots against us for years. We have grown and increased both in membership and resolve. We are the majority, to be honest, even by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s own figures, we are the people and with the people. Do you know that we control most urban local authorities now? We have regained what we had lost in 2013. We have increased our presence in the national assembly from 32 to 88 and we have gained significant presence even in the senate, we were 18 and now we are 24.
We will continue to work with the people until their stolen victory is taken back. Don’t be fooled, Zanu PF has no future for anyone in Zimbabwe unless you are corrupt like them.