WITH reports circulating of an alleged rift between MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, NewsDay reporter Kudzai Muchenjekwa (ND) caught up with Mwonzora (DM) who spoke in detail on the issues facing the opposition party.
INTERVIEW: Kudzai Muchenjekwa
ND: You held a meeting with Chief Justice Luke Malaba after he was heckled in Parliament by MDC legislators, can you explain why you went against the tide?
DM: While I can confirm to you that we did see Chief Justice Malaba, most of the things that are being said about the nature of the meeting are very false. Nothing harmful to the MDC was discussed. A few things were clarified before the Chief Justice, for example, we clarified that the MDC, as a party, respects separation of powers between the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature; number two, that we respect the court; and number three, we respect him as a person — that we made it clear — that does not mean we respect every decision that they make. We separate the person from the decision. But it’s something I am going to be explaining to the party should I get the chance to do that, but from me it’s something so minor that it should not take the time of the (MDC national) council.
The national council has been called to deal with the political developments in the country. I have read from the papers and social media people writing defamatory and damning articles about me. For example, last week there was an article talking about me being bankrolled by Zanu PF and there was an article on the meeting with Chief Justice Malaba and committing an offence. These articles are false! There is a pattern every time we are having a national council meeting, a group of people starts agitating the party and its organs against me.
ND: Since the party is headed for a congress next year and there is talk that you are eyeing the presidency — are you tossing your hat into the ring?
DM: For the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying anything yet about what office I may or may not run for. That is a decision I’m yet to make and that is a decision that does not depend on me alone, but on a number of people, but I am not right now campaigning to be president of the MDC. I know as member of the party I can contest for any post. I’m allowed to contest over any position, but right now I have not campaigned for presidency of MDC and right now the president of the MDC is Nelson Chamisa and I am the secretary-general and quite happy with that arrangement.
ND: We have read so many conflicting statements from the MDC as to when the congress will be held?
DM: This has been said, the congress is going to happen, there is going to be a congress for the MDC, the date has not yet been set yet and from what the spokesperson of the party has said, the congress will be some time in October or slightly after October because the five years expire on October 31 when we held the last congress in 2014. The date of the congress has not been announced yet and one should know that the issues to be discussed at the congress have not yet been laid out yet, so I don’t know where people are getting the idea that I am in the running for the presidency.
ND: Some in the party have suggested that you are not loyal to the party president?
DM: I am loyal to four things and I will put them in order of importance. Number one, I am loyal to the cause; number two, I am loyal to the party; number three, I am loyal to the entire leadership of the MDC, so yes I am loyal to Nelson Chamisa. I am loyal to him to the extent that he is my president and that he is superintending over me. I have never backstabbed him.
ND: You said that the decision of becoming a presidential candidate for MDC is not entirely up to you; in the event that people call on you to contest, will you take heed of the call?
DM: I don’t know, because that issue has not arisen. No group of people has come to me with that issue, so it’s all theoretical and I am a very practical person. There are a lot of factors that one looks at before they run for any office and I will inevitably look at those. However, I think I should put everybody’s mind to rest here that the issue has not arisen in my mind at all. We have better and more pressing issues to deal with.
ND: Secretary-general, can you state with certainty that MDC has no factions?
DM: MDC is very intact, but that does not mean MDC people think the same way every time. It also does not mean that the MDC leadership see things the same way every time, there have been instances where I have thought differently from [the late] president [Morgan] Tsvangirai, I had different thoughts with president Chamisa on an issue or two, but this does not mean the party is disintegrating and we have ways of dealing with that.
I have worked with Nelson Chamisa in various capacities; first when he was the organising secretary and I was the spokesperson — by rank I was under him. We worked very well together. And when I was secretary-general and he was secretary for policy he was under me and am so proud that at no point did I harass him when I had the privilege of being his senior, and now he is my president and I see no problem with that. I don’t look at his age as a factor at all.