SENIOR STAFF WRITER
NEW MDC leader, Douglas Mwonzora, pictured, says the continuing active participation of elements of Zanu PF’s vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction in the affairs of the MDC Alliance is jeopardising prospects for a united opposition in the country ahead of the crucial 2023 elections.
This notwithstanding, Mwonzora told the Daily News soon after he ascended to the leadership of the country’s biggest opposition party last week that he was still keen to talk to Nelson Chamisa and the leaders of other opposition parties — as part of efforts to heal the debilitating divisions that have severely weakened the country’s opposition.
This comes as the highly-regarded senator and lawyer has also reiterated his willingness to pursue dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF, with a view to improving the lives of long-suffering Zimbabweans.
Mwonzora took over the leadership of the MDC last weekend, following the party’s chaotic extra-ordinary congress (EOC) that was held in Harare to choose a substantive successor to the movement’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Yes … I am ready to work with Chamisa … I am ready to work with anyone. But there is one fundamental issue.
“The fundamental issue is that our relationship must be predicated upon certain values — constitutionalism, rule of law, mutual respect, non-violence and so on.
“But there is a complicating factor, and that is the G40. The G40 must just get out of the politics of the MDC,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“I saw that as we were going towards our congress. Jonathan Moyo was busy telling the MDC people not to vote for me and he is still trying to influence the decision-making within the MDC Alliance.
“For example, there is a lady in Bulawayo … she was named in some abduction. It was Jonathan Moyo who said she should be suspended and she … was found not guilty by the internal tribunal.
“Jonathan insisted that she should be expelled and she was expelled. So, we don’t want an opposition that is a puppet of a group of people like G40.
“So, in my discussion with Chamisa, if we get to discuss it at all, it will be an important matter to discuss,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News.
“I don’t know whether they are prepared. I have respect for them (MDC Alliance). I doubt whether they have respect for me … I think there is no formula to engagement.
“I know for certain that there are members from the Chamisa party who have approached us wanting to rejoin the party. We have said they are free to rejoin the party.
“Chamisa is also free to rejoin the party. So, when it comes to the issue of coming back to the party, the door is wide open and no questions are going to be asked. But when it comes to MDC Alliance as a unit and MDC … as a unit … it remains to be seen whether they are prepared for that,” Mwonzora also said.
“We want to unite everyone starting with our own party. I am happy that within a space of two days we have been able to re-unite our group.
“It is a record time by all standards and I’m very, very excited about that. Two days ago … Khupe and another set of leaders were saying things that I did not agree with, and maybe vice versa.
“Now, we are rightly speaking the same language within a space of two days. That means that we have the capacity to unite all our people,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News.
“We will be discussing with our brothers and sisters in the other opposition parties, not for them to dissolve their parties, but for us to start working together.
“We do that by making sure that we forge a respectful relationship with them. Yes, we are a bigger party. I think we are the biggest measured by the number of MPs that we have.
“We have some parties who are numerically smaller than us. Those parties are also important because the wishes of the minority must also be considered in a democracy,” Mwonzora added.
“So we will want to unite the opposition and we will play our role to make sure that it is united. But as a matter of fact, it is not a correct proposition that a party always wins if it is united.
“Zapu split into Zapu and Zanu and that splinter group went on to form a government.
“In 2005 (Welshman) Ncube split from the mainstream MDC and three years later Tsvangirai got the biggest win of his career.
“We defeated Mugabe. We won the parliamentary majority and local government. It is what the main party does that will determine things.
“I think that it is too early to write the obituary of the opposition. We are capable of winning 2023,” Mwonzora said while recalling the previous splits in the MDC.
This also comes as Mwonzora has said he would be pursuing a different type of politics to end the country’s deep polarisation, which is blamed for the toxic national political environment.
He said one of his immediate tasks was to have more interactions with Mnangagwa and Zanu PF, apart from reaching out to other opposition groups in the country.
“Of course, it (working with Zanu PF and other political outfits) is the only sensible thing to do … We are already working with Zanu PF in Parliament. We are also working with Zanu PF as we oversee its ministries.
“Working with Zanu PF is different from working for Zanu PF. We want to establish a relationship that is respectful … business-like … professional and that benefits Zimbabwean people.
“Zimbabweans don’t benefit from dysfunctional fights … but we will take our responsibilities as the opposition and that is what we are going to do,” the self-assured Mwonzora told the Daily News On Sunday.
“For us to get to a … GNU (new government of national unity) somebody must initiate it and usually that is done by the party that is ruling because the argument is that they are enjoying the mandate of the people … and the second thing will be the terms of the GNU arrangement.
“We are not interested in window dressing arrangements, but having said that, Zimbabweans did benefit tangibly from the GNU of 2009 to 2013,” he further told the Daily News.
“So, if that choice ever comes our way, we will weigh whether it is in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people to do that.
“That would entail us going around the country hearing the views of … people, and listening to the organs of our party … Zimbabweans have always benefited from dialogue,” the Harare lawyer also said.
“In 1979, we ended … the liberation war with dialogue at Lancaster House which brought independence … civil war, the genocide in Matabeleland ended with the Unity Accord. That was dialogue.
“The 2008 and 2009 violence ended again with a discussion. So, there is ample historic evidence that dialogue does work.
“We want to pursue dialogue. What it will culminate in is another story. Sometimes it culminates in a GNU. Sometimes it culminates in an arrangement different from a GNU.
“But as long as … that GNU is in the best interest of Zimbabweans, it is welcome to us,” Mwonzora added.