INTERVIEW Obey Manayiti

MDC external branches have not been seen as key players in national politics because the diaspora vote has been shut out of local elections.

However, Tawanda Dzvokora (TD), chairperson of the United States branch, told NewsDay Weekender senior reporter Obey Manayiti (NDW) that as external branches, they have a bigger and important role to play, not only to their party, but to the nation as whole. He shares his insight in excerpts below:

NDW: Congratulations on your election victory to lead the MDC-US branch. Can you briefly share with us your mandate?

TD: Thank you. My mandate is not simple, but very much achievable. I must lead the North America Province (NAP), reinvigorate the party, grow and resource it.

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I must connect the party to institutions within the United States and Canada as well as the United States State Department.

Strategic partnerships with key organisations here is also one of my priorities. As chairperson, I will lead the fight for the diaspora vote, which is a fundamental right to every Zimbabwean.

Fundraising is the primary reason why we have external assemblies and I will spearhead fundraising programmes that will help the party.

NDW: Do you think the external branches have a role to play in Zimbabwean politics, where you don’t participate in the actual voting?

TD: External assemblies are very much critical to the democratisation and development of Zimbabwe. External associations/assemblies are beneficial for both nation and party.

By just a critical look in the just past years, the diaspora carried the nation on its shoulders. It sustained the Zimbabwe economy through the diaspora remittances.

Over US$2 billion was channelled in Zimbabwe’s economy by diasporas. So, logically, such helpful components of the nation should be recognised and there is no better recognition than a vote.

NDW: After the congress, the MDC came up with a totally new leadership. Do you have confidence in this leadership? Do you think the party can finally seize power from Zanu PF?

TD: The leadership that came out of our congress is a reflection of trust and wishes of the people. The leaders are of good character and disposition, who possess abilities to wrest power from the failed Zanu PF regime. I sincerely believe the people’s revolution is imminent and we will have an MDC government before 2023.

NDW: Between now and the next elections, what reforms do you want to see being implemented?

TD: We have a five-point plan that is being further cemented by the RELOAD blueprint, but of emphasis is the need to reform the electoral laws, starting by disbanding Zec [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] itself.

Zec should be an independent commission and should return its autonomy, but currently, Zec is behaving like an extension of the Zanu PF commissariat

We also need to align laws to the new Constitution. This is very important and can be the stepping stone to many other reforms that we need; they are quite many for your own information.

NDW: The State has indicated that it brooks no threats from opposition and civil society leaders. We have seen a wave of arrests. Without commenting on issues now before the courts, do you think the new dispensation is as tolerant as they want the world to believe?

TD: [President Emmerson] Mnangagwa’s establishment is very intolerant and a threat to national security.

The military junta government has charged more Zimbabweans with treason in a short period of time than colonial Rhodesia and the [former President Robert] Mugabe’s totalitarian rule.

The military junta has also slayed more through extra-judicial killings over a short period of time compared to the Mugabe misrule.

The military junta has perfected the colonial brutality and postcolonial misgovernance and is double evil and incompetent to Mugabe and Ian Smith added.

NDW: We have seen opposition members demonstrating in the United Kingdom against Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and his delegation. Do you think this was justified and why?

TD: It is justified because people here in the diaspora enjoy full rights to register their discontent and disapproval of something.

It was rather unfortunate that the security detail started assaulting peaceful protesters. To make matters worse, they assaulted women.

An unfortunate act that is reminiscent of what’s happening in Zimbabwe, where women and children are attacked and raped without restraint.

We are, however, relieved to hear that we will be pressing charges against the abusive behaviour of the security detail that caused a raucous with the
otherwise peaceful demonstrators.