Our news editor chats to MDC leader Nelson Chamisa. The charismatic opposition leader reveals that he wants any talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to yield electoral reforms and an economic rescue package for the country.
Find below excerpts of the interview.
Q: It seems you remain trapped in election mode almost four months after the election. What do you want?
A: We want political dialogue on the five issues we have emphasised.
Q: What are the issues?
A: Number one, return to legitimacy. Number two, comprehensive political reforms, electoral reforms and constitutional reforms. Number three, nation building and peace building. Number four, international re-engagement to deal with the debt question and also to deal with multilateral support. Number five, an emergency rescue programme and a humanitarian agenda.
Q: Is there scope for a mediator?
A: Izvo zvinobuda (That will come) later, because there is a deadlock, a political deadlock. Whether they want to declare it or whether they don’t want to declare it, whether they want to acknowledge it or ignore it, it is there. So, the fundamental issue is how do we move forward because we control the majority.
Q: But President Emmerson Mnangagwa controls the majority, according to election results. What do you mean you control the majority?
A: We were voted by more people than Mnangagwa and we are the government at local government level because we control all the cities. So, de facto, we are in charge.
But you see vanaMnangagwa, by the fact that they have declared themselves, they are also in charge of central government.
So, for this country, in order for it to move, it must move on the basis of shared understanding of what the way forward is around the issue ye (of) legitimacy, around the presidential election, the issue ye the reform agenda, the issue ye national building and peace building, how do we heal the nation nema (of) wounds of the past, kwete zvavo zvekuita zvima (not the route they have taken to set up a) Commission of Inquiry. That will not heal the nation. Kwete zvavo zvekuti isu tisu tirikupa (Not what they are saying that they are ushering in a) new dispensation, that will not give a new dispensation.
A new dispensation will come when the entire population is working in unison for an issue. We can’t have people voting and their vote being ignored, people voting and their vote being bastardised, or just being disregarded.
Q: What exactly do you yourself want, is it a post for yourself? Is it only about the five issues you allude to?
A: No, this is about the people of Zimbabwe. The challenges we are facing are as a result of the elephant in the living room.
The elephant in the living room is absence of rule of law, democracy, good governance, free and fair elections.
We were able to dilute this elephant in the living room during the inclusive government. That’s why things started moving. But we went back to the default setting of the elephant in the living room after the 2013 election.
That’s why the problem has continued. So, we are in 2018, we are going to deal with the elephant in the living room because of the November (soft coup) incident.
We thought it was a journey towards dealing with the elephant in the living room.
We have realised now that the elephant in the living room has not been moved out. If anything, it has changed the colour.
Q: So, what, you want a reincarnation of the GNU?
A: Not a GNU, not a GNU, I am not interest in that. I want resolution yekuti chii chatirikuita ne (around what we are doing around) reform, political settlement.
Q: So, this is forward-looking?
A: No, it’s now.
Q: It’s now? But you are talking of electoral reforms, and the next election is in 2023?
A: No, no, no, but there are elections anoitwa (held) every time, the by-elections. There can be an election next week if we say we are dissolving this thing because taita (there is a) stalemate.
Q: You mean like another harmonised election?
A: There can be an election anytime depending on political developments.
Q: So, you are saying this can only happen after political dialogue. Who will be the stakeholders there?
A: No ka, but there are two major parties akaenda kuma (that went to) elections, vane (with a) presence in Parliament, in local government and central government.
Q: But Mnangagwa has ruled this out. So, what, you are bringing pressure to bear through this hwamanda (shofar or trumpet) which you say you will be sounding soon for the commencement of anti-government demos?
A: No, no, no, look. They have said it’s out but we are saying there has to be political dialogue. And as citizens, as a party iri (which is) democratic, we are not a rebel movement, we are not an underground movement, we are not a terrorist organisation, okay, we are a democratic party.
Therefore, there are democratic tools available to confront, one of which is demonstrations, the other one is petitions in terms of the Constitution, yah?
That one is democratic pressure through diplomatic engagement and international diplomacy, regional diplomacy, continental diplomacy, so there are many tools that are available to be able to resolve issues affecting us.
Q: You claim there was an attempt to abduct you. Why do you think the State would take such a route?
A: It is a pattern and a trend that has been taking place for the past three months.
It’s a phenomenon I have observed yekuti vanhu ivava ava vanenge vachinditeera (that they trail me), everywhere I go.
Q: You think it’s not for intelligence gathering, because if what you are saying is true, then this has now taken a dark turn, almost a morbid turn if you like?
A: No, there is no intelligence gathering. What intelligence do you gather by chasing after my vehicles and blocking them?
If you are intelligence gathering, you just want to know what I am doing, whether lawful or unlawful. But when you then block my car, you attempt to side-swipe my vehicle, is that intelligence gathering?
Q: Of course not. But you saw the Information minister disowning those thugs. She says they are not part of the system.
A: But where have you found a witch who acknowledges their act?
Where have you seen a thief own up to his own loot? So, is that new to you? Are they not saying they don’t know about the Gukurahundi, Mugabe said it was “a moment of madness?” What have they said about Dzamara? What did they say about Tonderai Ndira, what did they say about Patrick Nabanyama, what about Cain Nkala, and Rashiwe Guzha?
Q: A history of denials and subterfuge?
A: Yes. So, what do want them to say? It’s actually the normal statement from them. That is expected. You bewitch and you deny.
Q: Vari sei Mr Ashley namama vavo (How is your son Ashley and his mum?) How are they taking all this?
A: Ko ivo vakadzingirirwa ka. Some eerie figures gave high-speed chase to her car.
Q: Someone chased her vehicle?!
A: In the road on her way home.
Q: You don’t say?! When was this?
A: Last week, on Friday, yah.
A: Ndokutaurira ka (I’m telling you the gospel truth.) And I am going to reveal those things pa press conference (on Monday which was later addressed by MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume).
Q: This is serious stuff?
A: And then they are now lying that my kidnap attempt was “road rage!”
Q: Yes, minister Mutsvangwa has called it “road rage.”
A: Can you imagine? Unoziva (You know) they play games with people’s lives.