HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has admitted taking eyes off the election ball during the inclusive government, saying participating in the July 31 elections without key reforms was suicidal.
Tsvangirai suffered a huge defeat at the hands of President Robert Mugabe during the July 31 elections, triggering calls for him to step down to pave way for a new leader.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Sunday, MDC organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said participating in the July 31 elections without reforms was akin to going to an examination without a syllabus.
Chamisa however, shot down suggestions that the party’s 61-year-old leader should quit.
“It is not time to change the commander,” he said.
“Every struggle has its face. President Tsvangirai is the face of the struggle. Any other shrill calls or comments for him to step down are just but voices in the wilderness.
“It’s good to express oneself but looking at the circumstances, the challenges we face, its not the time to change the commander. We are in the middle of a mortal combat with challenges that are so clear in the country.”
In retrospect, Chamisa regretted that the party “entered a stadium which was filled with water, stones and of course thorns”.
“There is no chance we should have gone to elections without electoral, media and political reforms,” he said. “We left and lifted our eyes off the ball. We were supposed to continue with the reform mantra. We were supposed to focus on the reforms as a precondition for free and fair elections.”
Tsvangirai was railroaded into an election after the Constitutional Court directed that elections be held on July 31.
The buoyant MDC participated in the polls under protest.
Now out of power, the MDC says it is going to make sure that it will not take part in future elections without necessary reforms.
“We should never enter into darkness hoping that we just grope around and locate that which we are seeking to identify,” Chamisa said.
“We need to make sure that we bring light to the elections. We need fundamental reforms to how elections are conducted, who conducts elections, the technical staff of Zec (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), the issue of institutions of government doing government business and not necessarily partisan business, those are things we have learnt and things we could have done better and now with hindsight, we are even twice sharper, once beaten, twice shy.”
Chamisa, who served as a minister for Informatio and Communication Technology (ITC) in the inclusive government, said being outside government was not a handicap to the MDC’s goal of attaining political and institutional reforms.
“We don’t necessarily need to be in government to achieve reforms; the theatre of politics is not just transacted in government. We are political stakeholders by the virtue of support that the people of Zimbabwe continue to give to president Tsvangirai,” said Chamisa.