A fortnight ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Nelson Chamisa was an illegitimate leader of the MDC, paving the way for his rival Thokozani Khupe to return as the interim leader of the party pending an extraordinary congress within three months.
Judges ruled that late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai violated the party’s constitution by appointing Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as vice-presidents alongside Khupe, who was elected at a congress.
The judgement saw senior MDC officials Douglas Mwonzora and Morgan Komichi jumping into Khupe’s corner while other party officials rejected the ruling, saying it was biased.
Mudzuri (EEM), who had not ditched Chamisa in the aftermath of the ruling, yesterday told our acting news editor Everson Mushava that he accepted the ruling.
The former minister responded to allegations that he was eyeing Chamisa’s position. Below are excerpts from the interview.
EM: Yourself and Chamisa’s appointments as vice-presidents by the late Tsvangirai were declared illegal by the Supreme Court. What is your comment on those developments?
EEM: I accept the ruling and as a party we have to face it for the purposes of uniting the party mainly because of various reasons amongst which are, first, as a social democratic party, we are bound by the rule of law, constitutionalism, democracy and respect for institutions.
We have no other option, but to accept the outcome of court processes.
Secondly, MDC is an institution that is respected and as the largest opposition political party poised to replace Zanu PF, we must respect our founding principles and values and also observe international best practices governing progressive democratic institutions.
Thirdly, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land outside constitutional issues and has made a landmark ruling in a case pitting the party against an ordinary member seeking redress on what he believed had been a denial of his democratic right to elect a leader of his own choice.
As a grassroots-based party, we respect feedback on our decisions from the ordinary members.
Finally, I also acknowledge as pointed out in the judgement, that as a party, we did not get proper advice on certain constitutional processes that needed to be followed in choosing a successor to our late icon Dr Morgan Tsvangirai (may his soul rest in peace).
EM: What role do you suggest the MDC Alliance partners play in light of the court outcome, which excludes them from the MDC extraordinary congress processes?
EEM: Alliance partners are important because we had an electoral pact, which guided us during the 2018 harmonised elections.
According to our Alliance agreement of the loose coalition of seven political parties, we are independent of each other.
Each party had its agreed allocation of seats and is in charge of its own deployees in Parliament and local government.
While they have no direct role to play in the processes ordered by the courts, we must engage them as important stakeholders, who we still value in the spirit of the “big tent” concept.
If they are willing to join the MDC, I think they must be welcome into the party.
EM: What then do you suggest as the way forward?
EEM: I am aware that there have been expressions of opposing views, trading of nasty words, accusations and counter accusations, anger and frustrations, but I think we need to sober up, sit down together and face the reality of the judgement and its far-reaching implications to the well-being of the party.
The starting point is to accept that we erred in the manner in which we handled the succession and transformation matrixes of the party.
We need to acknowledge that this succession wrangle threatens to tear the party apart.
It creates the best opportunity for the leadership of the MDC to pause and avert a possible bruising split that will not benefit anyone except our opponents.
We must get into the 2023 harmonised elections as a united family with one objective of taking over power from Zanu PF so as to change the fortunes of Zimbabwe.
We must not betray the people of Zimbabwe who in the more than two decades have invested so much into this project of change for a better Zimbabwe.
EM: And finally, are you going to join the race and contest for the presidency at the extraordinary congress?
EEM: As I explained earlier, this is not about personalities or individual egos and ambitions.
It is about doing what is right, correcting our mistakes and moving forward as a united family and confront our opponents. Leaders come from the people, they don’t self-appoint.
If the people believe I have what it takes to move the party forward, I will gladly accept the noble responsibility.
I will not, however, lead a divided party.