THE main opposition MDC-Alliance is locked in countless battles, in and out of court, as the party resists an onslaught it says has been orchestrated by the Zanu PF government. Nelson Chamisa’s legitimacy as party president has been questioned and, Thokozani Khupe, adjudged by the Supreme Court to be the MDC legitimate leader, is fighting to retain control of the party and its legislators.
Senior reporter, Bridget Mananavire (BM), spoke to the recently appointed MDC-Alliance spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere (FM), to unpack the party’s position and strategy.
BM: First, we congratulate you on your appointment to the influential position of MDC-Alliance spokesperson. However, the appointment comes at a time the party is embroiled in power struggles. How has been your experience so far?
FM: Thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and be a voice for citizens at such a critical juncture for the nation. The experience has been exhilarating. I have had to hit the ground running but I am humbled by the opportunity to bring clarity at such a critical moment in the party’s history.
BM: How are the power struggles affecting the party, seeing there is a move to replace some MPs that were voted for on the MDC-Alliance ticket?
FM: The agenda for change has always come against adversity with some seeking personal power over the common good. However, this has never stopped us from our true purpose, which is a just, equitable and democratic space that allows all Zimbabweans to flourish without fear or favour. These challenges are a side show designed to distract the nation from the rot and decay being presided over by Mr (Emmerson) Mnangagwa and his colleagues. We will continue to fight against underhand moves to circumvent the people’s will as expressed in the 2018 elections. We remain resolute and clear that our energies are best spent on prioritising national issues.
BM: Does the MDC-Alliance have a clear strategy for defeating the Thokozani Khupe, Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi camp?
FM: Yes. Our strategy is to always go back to the people because that’s where our power lies.
BM: Still on strategy, last week MPs returned to Parliament after a boycott. First, was the boycott effective in any way and, second, what influenced the decision to return to Parliament?
FM: It was effective because it gave us an opportunity to engage our constituents and grassroots and hear what their views are on what is transpiring in Parliament and how they want us to respond. It is important for party leaders not to act unilaterally. It is important for us to send a clear message to Parliament, to the MDC-T and to all Zimbabweans that we are bound by the will of the people. The people voted for the MDC-Alliance as led by president Chamisa.
Nobody has the prerogative to alter that mandate and give MDC-Alliance votes to a different party. Political parties are not made in courtrooms or through violent army takeovers. Political power comes from the people. It is imperative that we drive that message home over and over.
BM: There are those MPs who continued attending Parliament during the period of withdrawal, what is their fate in the party?
FM: We are a party of rules, discipline and due process. The law will take its course in a fair, transparent manner in accordance with the dictates and internal processes of our constitution.
BM: some citizens have been calling for a so-called signal from MDC-Alliance as they anxiously hope the leadership of the party will lead demonstrations. Is the MDC-Alliance going to take this up?
FM: The right to peaceful protest, peaceful demonstration and resistance is constitutionally protected. The movement will adopt this among many other strategies to fight the system. What is critical is that a broad church of actors that comprises all Zimbabweans including the church, civil society, trade unions, the student movement, business, artists and every sector of society joins hands in the fight. We all want to see Zimbabwe rise from the ashes.
We therefore all have a duty to come together and speak with one voice and act to make the change happen.
BM: Some sectors have criticised the opposition of failing to offer a strong alternative government and a clear message and position on type of governance. How do you respond to this?
FM: As a party, the MDC-Alliance has designed policies that will have an impact on the entire nation, not only affect its supporters. We are a government in waiting.
Therefore, the nation can expect alternative policy formulation as articulated in our RELOAD policy document which is publicly available and which we will continuously speak to as we articulate our plan for progress.
BM: Do you believe a revolution is needed to free the country from the Zanu PF regime or do you think elections are the way to go?
FM: We believe that in order to free Zimbabwe, we need to dismantle the broken, toxic political system that is led by Zanu PF in all its forms and replace it with a government that is value-based and that has the people at heart. We believe that the current system is not working and must be replaced with a new way of doing politics that champions people’s issues, integrity, competence, ideas, good governance, freedom, fairness, opportunity, innovation and an open, inclusive society that enables every Zimbabwean to prosper.
BM: Zanu PF’s acting spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa, last week said there is no oppression in Zimbabwe. How do you respond to this?
FM: One needs to look at the daily struggles that the ordinary Zimbabwean faces to see that this is an outright lie—there is the erosion of our democratic freedoms, unending corruption, the destruction of livelihoods, hyperinflation, a hunger crisis, chronic unemployment, a leaderless lockdown, a public health disaster, the persecution of lawyers for doing their work, abductions, torture and the sexual assault of women. Oppression surrounds us everywhere we go.
BM: What is the MDC-Alliance’s next move from here?
FM: We will continue to fight this battle on every conceivable front. We will continue to remind Zimbabweans that this is not a fight for the MDC-Alliance but it is a fight for freedom. Democracy is on trial and what we see is a battle for the soul of the nation. We all have a duty to be engaged, to ask, to speak and to act. It cannot be a crime to speak truth to power. It cannot be a crime to hold the government to account. It cannot be a crime to complain that one is hungry. We will not stop talking about the daily struggles that Zimbabweans face as the nation continues in a state of crisis as a result of the bad governance caused by our political elites.
BM: What are the main issues the MDC-Alliance is convinced must be addressed in Zimbabwe at the moment?
FM: As was highlighted by president Chamisa at the beginning of 2020, we will focus our efforts on five key issues, namely the fight for a people’s government and reforms; the fight for a better life and livelihoods; the fight against corruption; the fight for the rule of law; and the fight in defence of the constitution.
BM: How are you, the leadership, going to make the MDC strong again?
FM: The MDC-Alliance is already strong. It carries the strength of the people’s mandate and it is this commitment to the people that we will continue to strengthen.
BM: What message do you carry for Zimbabweans right now?
FM: I want to inspire hope and a thirst for change among Zimbabweans. I hope to be able to contribute to rekindling our self-belief and imagination as a people. I hope to leave this world having participated in setting Zimbabwe on a clear path to becoming the Great Zimbabwe we know it can be.
My dream is that my children and the next generation fight a different struggle from the one that we are fighting today. I wish for progress and that this, too, may pass.
— Zimbabwe Independent