Blessed Mhlanga

OPPOSITION National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Lovemore Madhuku (LM), who is accused of dining with Zanu PF for financial gains, last week told NewsDay (ND) senior reporter Blessed Mhlanga that he is working to ensure that come 2023, neither Zanu PF nor the MDC will be anywhere near the corridors of power. Below are some of the excerpts of the interview.

ND: You attended the funeral of former President Robert Mugabe, a man you spent half your life fighting, but at the funeral wake, you spoke glowingly about him, what motivated you?

LM: Well, opposition was not to Robert Mugabe the person, but opposition was to the politics of Zanu PF and Mugabe merely happened to be the leader of the party. We were making a distinction between Mugabe the person and the Zanu PF system that was led by Mugabe.

ND: Of late, you have been accused of dinning with Zanu PF, the party you have fought against all these years. This has seen some people describing you as a sell-out. Can you comment?

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LM: I don’t know what is meant by dining with them, but I am sure you are referring to being in Political Actors Dialogue (Polad). It is not about dining with anyone. Polad is a national dialogue process where political players come together to debate issues to do with Zimbabwe; that is nothing to do with Zanu PF
ND: It’s not only Polad, but you have been in the Motlanthe Commission of inquiry into the August 1, 2018 shootings, is that not dining with Zanu PF when you are getting financial benefits?

LM: There were no financial benefits in the Motlanthe Commission. The commission was very important for our country; it was the commission that found out that the army and police were responsible for killing six civilians on August 1 2018. That was a point that was made by the commission. We recommended that it should never happen again that government is irresponsible in terms of how it deals with demonstrations. We even recommended compensation, so why should the Motlanthe Commission be seen as dining with Zanu PF? The commission was the building block to the future of the country.

ND: You said you were fighting the system. Has the system shifted since Mugabe was removed as President in 2017?
LM: There is no shift, but what has changed is the method of how to deal with the system, dialogue is now the way to go. When we fought the system 15 years ago, we focused more on massive engagements and demonstrations, those things no longer work at this particular time. We need dialogue.

The system has to be fought and we continue to fight it, but we have to change the methods. So there are people who are totally lost when they look at us adopting a different method as if we have given up. Why would we give up? We have created massive movements. Those in MDC Alliance believe that the person who is fighting for democracy is the person in the MDC Alliance. That is nonsense. What you have to take into account is what are people doing in their various stations. When we fought against Zanu PF, we were fighting against one-party domination and we will also fight against a two-party domination.

Domination and oppression does not change because you have increased the number of players. Where I stand, I am contributing to a situation where we have a real genuine multi-party environment of more than three parties.

ND: Is there a new dispensation in Zimbabwe?
LM: There is no new dispensation. Currently, there is a dispensation that has been going backwards. They have gone behind what we had in the 1980s. Our current leaders are trying to learn the bad portion of their old days. The bad portion of the old days were characterised by the mysterious disappearance of people, the heavy deployment of police and army at the smallest excuse; the old days where you found people in government who had no clue on how to turn around the economy, which is what we have at the moment. We don’t have a new dispensation.

ND: What can be done to change this facade as you call it?
LM: We must invest heavily in conscientising the majority of the people. The way forward is to make people alert of our situation. Those in government still have supporters, you go into a by-election you find out that the majority of the people who turn up to vote still vote for them notwithstanding the economic hardships, notwithstanding political repression – that is the problem we have in the country. It is not just about turning around and making this work, but it is about educating and conscientising our people so that they realise that they have a solution when the election comes.

ND: There are people who thought that burying Mugabe would also be burying the old habits, do you agree?
LM: Not at all. We buried Mugabe the individual, not the system. We know that his departure has no relationship whatsoever with the changing fortunes of our country. The change of fortunes of our country depends on how we deal with the system.

ND: Some say that the opposition is too divided – we have a lot of opposition parties – this is why they cannot dislodge Zanu PF; talk of a multiplicity of parties, how do we reconcile that?

LM: That is ignorance, it is not about the number of political parties, it is not about divisions; divisions take place when people cast their votes. But that again depends on the campaign. When people are given four, five or six choices and they have convincing arguements, they will be able to vote correctly. You need parties so that we avoid only having Zanu PF and its policies that are not working and the MDC Alliance, on the other hand, that is made up of arrogant leaders.

ND: Do you think Zanu PF is capable of solving Zimbabwe’s socio-economic problems?
LM: Zanu PF is not capable of solving the current socio-economic problems; we are only talking with Zanu PF because we have a fact of elections that places Zanu PF in the leadership of the country. We are working with Zanu PF in Polad not because we believe Zanu PF has the solution, but because the people have forced us to work with them.