Friday, May 07, 2010

(THEDAILYNEWS) Makumbe says MDC-T must address issue of internal violence

COMMENT - From the OTI funded UK based studios of SW Radio Africa. SW Radio Africa is funded by the USAID's 'Office Of Transition Initiatives'. The OTI is or has also been active to support opposition in Yugoslavia and Venezuela. (1) USAID is quote: "USAID is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State." (2) The US Secretary of State is of course Hillary Clinton.

Makumbe says MDC-T must address issue of internal violence
May 7, 2010

On SW Radio Africa’s HotSeat, political analyst Professor John Makumbe analysis the alleged infighting in the MDC -T. Violence broke out in MDC Headquarters two weeks ago when rowdy youths reportedly confronted the party’s Director General, Toendepi Shonhe and took his car. Speculation is rife that the incident was a result of power struggles within the MDC-T leadership ahead of next year’s party congress. Is Secretary General Tendai Biti trying to upstage President Morgan Tsvangirai? Are these ‘power struggles’ a result of disagreements over strategies and tactics, or a mere smear campaign by ZANU PF?

VIOLET GONDA: My guest on the Hot Seat programme is political analyst, Professor John Makumbe with his analysis of the alleged in-fighting in the MDC. Violence broke out at Harvest House, MDC Headquarters in Harare a fortnight ago when a group of youths allegedly attacked the Party’s Director General Toendepi Shonhe and took his car. It is reported that MDC youths also assaulted three private investigators who had been called in to investigate the disturbances. Speculation is rife that the incident was a result of the power struggles within the MDC. Professor Makumbe, what is your understanding of what is going on in the MDC? Are there power struggles?

JOHN MAKUMBE: There are always power struggles in every Party, because people are people – they like power, they enjoy power and once they are in certain positions, they aspire for higher positions, so there’s a real possibility that there may be power struggles in the MDC. We are waiting to hear what the report, which should be released today will be saying.

GONDA: Well I was talking to some of the MDC people who were speaking on condition of anonymity and they were saying that they didn’t think that the report would be coming out this week because the committee investigating these disturbances was still interviewing people. But even if the report does not come out right away, what is your understanding of what exactly is happening because there are some people who are saying there are rivalries between the Secretary General, Tendai Biti and the President Morgan Tsvangirai?

MAKUMBE: I have heard those rumours also but it’s very difficult Violet to go by way of rumours. In this country, rumour mongering is an industry and you can be led up the garden path really by believing rumours. But I think that it is really very unlikely that Tendai Biti would be wanting to push Morgan Tsvangirai out before there is a Congress. I think their Congress is due next year or is it later this year, I don’t remember. And then at the Congress, anyone not just Tendai Biti but all the others are free to contest if Morgan Tsvangirai wants to stand again. But I have seen very little or anything that actually is credible in terms of saying Tendai Biti is undermining Morgan Tsvangirai or Morgan Tsvangirai is undermining Tendai Biti. I suspect very strongly that a lot of that is coming from the Central Intelligence Organisation and then there are also elements within the MDC who are influenced by it and the rumour mongering really spreading all kinds of innuendos about the relationship between Biti and Morgan. For starters I know very well that Morgan would not hesitate to take the matter to the National Executive Council of the MDC if he thought that Tendai Biti was undermining him.

GONDA: But I’ve been trying to get MDC officials to talk on the record about these reports of in-fighting but it’s a problem getting people to go on record. What is the sensitivity with this issue?

MAKUMBE: Well largely people usually don’t want to go on record because sometimes what they are saying is not borne out by evidence; it’s not really true, it’s not really happening. Sometimes they are really pushing a rumour they heard somewhere and they don’t want to be, they don’t want it to be attributed to them, but I think if there was clear evidence that there is a power struggle between Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai, it would be evident and anybody speaking about it would actually be willing to say – yeh, put my name to that.

[There has been a running battle between Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai over the (typically neoliberal but electorially extremely unpopular) wage freeze for civil servants. Does 'political analyst' John Makumbe ascribe that to the CIO too? - MrK]

GONDA: A statement issued by the MDC on Friday accuses ZANU PF of embarking on a smear campaign and they said that this is to malign Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti by alleging that they are involved in a non-existent power struggle. But Professor Makumbe, to what extent is this just a mere smear campaign?

MAKUMBE: Robert Mugabe got into the Government of National Unity for one purpose and one purpose only – to destroy the MDC. And so his puppets, his running dogs have the responsibility of manufacturing anything and everything possible to cause the MDC to break down. Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF know very well that Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti are the lynch pins of the MDC-Tsvangirai and so the best way of destroying the MDC-Tsvangirai is to place these two against each other. Whether it is imagined or real I really can’t say at this stage but I personally suspect that there is no truth whatsoever in the allegations that Tendai Biti is trying to upstage Morgan Tsvangirai and vice versa. It is fiction.

[John Makumbe is not 'a political analyst', but an MDC spin doctor. - MrK]

GONDA: Well some observers say that there are some disagreements over strategies and tactics between those in the MDC leadership in terms of how to solve this crisis in the unity government and of course in Zimbabwe.

MAKUMBE: Oh I agree entirely and these have been with the MDC since its formation, in fact at one stage on the 12th of October 2005, the differences resulted in the split of the MDC with the Mutambara and Ncube group going their way and the mainstream MDC remaining with Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai. So yes, there are differences in methodology of how to resolve the crisis but these differences have never escalated within the MDC leadership to the level where there are really struggles for positions as is alleged at the moment. But there are people who would like to take that history of 12th of October 2005 and say, this is now recurring but now between Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai and I still think that differences in how do you proceed, what’s the best methodology of removing a dictator

[Through elections? - MrK]

have always been within the MDC because it is essentially a movement of various fingers, various people with various views. Very different from ZANU PF which has a dictator; whatever he says goes. In the MDC, people actually discuss issues and when they disagree, then the people of weak minds take those disagreements to mean that, therefore these people are actually fighting for power, and it is fiction.

GONDA: Some of the MDC supporters are saying that the MDC is acquiescing too much to ZANU PF and are now unable to provide a forceful alternative for Zimbabweans. Do you agree with this?

MAKUMBE: I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there is anything on the horizon other than the MDC as an alternative to ZANU PF. I don’t agree that the MDC is acquiescing too much; when the Iranian President came visiting, the MDC literally boycotted him, Morgan himself went on a regional trip and that’s not acquiescing. And the MDC have to observe a certain modicum of behaviour – not only in parliament but also in government. So there are certain things they must do lest even Jacob Zuma will say no minister of a government behaves in this manner and, the SADC itself, will find the MDC to be the spoiler of the Global Political Agreement. As things are now, everybody knows it is ZANU PF which is the spoiler but the MDC have to beat their time, they have to compromise because the Government of National Unity is a compromise and their objective for this compromise, the new constitution must be written, new elections must be held and a new government, a straight government from one party will then emerge and you will not observe those if you don’t at least compromise, give and take here and there.

GONDA: How do you respond to others who say that important decisions are still being made without consultation by ZANU PF?

MAKUMBE: I think it is correct. It is correct that there are decisions being made by ZANU PF without so much as a ‘by your leave’ from the MDC and those, the MDC have placed on the agenda as outstanding issues. Not only that but also the issue of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment and also the recently gazetted, again, legislation on fuel procurement, all those are being added onto the list by the MDC. But if people think that the MDC should therefore throw up and walk out – walk out to where? To 2008? Walk out from what? From the current stability in the country, from the current pseudo peace, the false peace that is prevailing in the country because we know there is still violence, there is still farm invasions and there are still very serious problems.

But where we were in 2008 is very different from where we are now. True the MDC have to put their wheel to the shoulder, they have to continue to light the fires and let ZANU PF run around putting them out. I think they are not doing enough of that, they should do more, but again there is a certain modicum which they have to observe lest the whole GNU collapses.

GONDA: And there are many who believe that Mugabe will never give in to the MDC’s demands and that these negotiations are going to go on forever. So what happens then? Do they just continue with these endless talks? What’s the way forward on this?

MAKUMBE: That is true – Mugabe will never give in. He knows if he gives in and he goes out of power he will be heading for The Hague, that is true but eventually, even a dictator really faces doomsday eventually. The way forward for Zimbabwe is for the MDC to continue to hold that democratic space which they have in government until a constitution is written, until elections are held, until the results of those elections – and I’m not saying we will not have a repeat of 2008 where Mugabe loses but stays put and refuses to go – let that happen again and the whole world will know who the spoiler is and the whole world will know how to deal with a dictator and even the MDC will wake up to the realisation that a dictator cannot be removed from office through democratic means.

GONDA: Going back to the issue of the violence or the disturbances that took place at the MDC Headquarters, the MDC said in their latest statement about this that the disturbances were to do with administrative issues which the leadership is currently seized with and the culprits have since been suspended and investigations are underway. We all know that Parties do have internal tensions and we have plenty of examples showing how ZANU PF uses violence to control situations, but a Party that has based its principles on using non-violent means to achieve its objectives has the MDC really addressed the issue of internal violence? When you hear that Party youths are dealing with grievances by attacking the Director General of the Party, and this has happened before where senior Party officials were assaulted by rowdy youths?

MAKUMBE: No this is an issue that is a product of the culture created in Zimbabwe by ZANU PF. All of us Zimbabweans are violent in nature, that’s our nature, that’s our culture. We are bred, born and bred in a violent culture, to think that because the youth in MDC are in MDC therefore they are not violent is really fiction. So that issue still needs to be addressed and I doubt the MDC were doing their best to address the issue of violence by suspending and eventually they may actually expel the violent youths. But I think it needs more work, it needs a lot of work to be done but it is not typical of MDC youth to be violent, it is typical for Zimbabweans to be violent whether they are in ZANU PF or MDC. What the MDC has done to pursue peaceful means of replacing a dictator needs to be interrogated needs to be questioned – will it work? We have evidence that it has so far failed to work. Is it possible that it will work next time or is it possible that the MDC might be brought to the realisation that the only way that a dictator can be removed from power is through force and therefore, rather than discourage violence within its own ranks, the MDC should direct that violence, not at its own leadership but at the supporters of ZANU PF. That also hasn’t been attended to and needs to be attended to.

And I don’t really think that the Party was very wise when they joined the Government of National Unity to remove both the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General from the Party and put them in government. One of the Secretary Generals should have stayed at Harvest House in charge of the administration, in charge of the running of Harvest House, the Headquarters of the MDC and this didn’t happen and there’s been considerable corruption going on at Harvest House and the youth are rebelling because they see some of this corruption going on. But the Party leadership, the Secretary General, the President, the Deputy are not even there, they are now in charge of the nation and so the youth have been forced to take matters into their hands and that’s very unfortunate.

GONDA: And what about issues to do with setting up independent investigation committees because many people say the Parties always set up these committees but nothing concrete ever comes out or is publicised about the findings?

MAKUMBE: I totally agree with independent commissions or committees of enquiry. I don’t really see how anyone in MDC, if there is factionalism in the MDC, I don’t see how anyone in the Party cannot be aligned to one faction or the other. I don’t see how you then select a committee to investigate an issue within the MDC and you select that committee from members of the MDC. It would be wise and transparent to appoint people who are not members of the MDC who therefore, cannot be accused of being aligned to one of the groups or one of the factions or the other.

GONDA: So these commissions in your view, should they still have a few members from the Party or it has be hundred per cent independent? The reason I’m asking this is because the latest committee that is investigating the disturbances that took place at Harvest House, I understand comprises of some MDC officials, including Seiso Moyo who is the MP for Nketa and the Deputy Minister of Justice Jesse Majome and one or two other members of the MDC. Should they still be involved in a committee like this because others will say they are too junior also to be investigating issues that involve senior party leaders? What can you say about that?

MAKUMBE: I agree, I agree, not only are they junior but because they are members of the MDC they have a faction which they will be supporting if there’s factionalism in the MDC and so you are going to end up with a report which is either biased in one direction or the other. But I personally believe that these committees of enquiry should be entirely independent and the MDC cannot claim that they couldn’t find anyone in Zimbabwe who could actually be a member of such a committee who is totally not aligned to either ZANU PF or the MDC or one of the factions in the MDC-M or one of the factions in the MDC-T. It’s not true, they need to have transparency and they need to deal with issues as they come, For junior members to investigate senior members is always risky especially when a Party is now in government because what comes out of these reports can determine whether an individual continues to be in Cabinet or maybe relieved of their duties or will be appointed into Cabinet next time or will be overlooked. It is really tricky. In politics there are no permanent friends, there are no permanent enemies, there are only permanent interests.

GONDA: And I remember the last time we spoke you also said the same thing about the need for the MDC to set up an independent committee to investigate the allegations of corruption in their UK Chapter and I understand that a committee has been set up and it will be in the UK this weekend. But again, the composition of this committee comprises mostly of people who are in the Party, for example Minister Sipepa Nkomo, MP Thabitha Khumalo and the Finance Director of the Party, Rumbidzai Nyamayemombe.

MAKUMBE: No it is not an independent committee and therefore it will not do a good job. It is going to be aligned one way or the other and it is going to doctor whatever it finds out in terms of its own preferences or the preferences and interests of its members or a combination thereof. And so in my view, I think we are again going to end up with a report about the UK fraudulent activities that is again questionable, that report could be disputed and therefore we will still see the MDC will not actually get to the bottom of the problem and when you don’t get to the bottom of the problem, those problems are likely to recur, it’s just as simple as that.

GONDA: And a final word Professor Makumbe.

MAKUMBE: I think there is nothing on the horizon. There is no way the MDC should get out of the unity government at the moment. They must stay in there, they must fight, from both within and without. Zimbabwe is too precious to be surrendered to ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe forever. The fight must go on and it must take all fronts, not only one front.

GONDA: Thank you very much Professor John Makumbe for participating on the programme Hot Seat.

MAKUMBE: My pleasure always Violet.

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