May 29, Movement for Democratic Change President Morgan Tsvangirai
was interviewed by Zimbabwe
Watch, part of the Netherlands Institute for Southern
by Zimbabwe Watch:
How do you see the process leading up to the establishment
of a transitional or new government?
way forward involves two possible options. Either of these
would follow the removal of the impediment or blockage, which
is the illegal presidency of Mugabe.
there would have to be a ninety days period leading up to
a presidential election, or there would need to be an extended
period – with the necessary constitutional amendment being
decided and approved by Parliament – so that the institutional
arrangements for elections can be made. If such an extension
is needed, a very clear process must be carried out to justify
to the people why it is necessary to postpone elections.
we need to put pressure on the government – through organised
non-violent protest – to open the way for the negotiations
that are necessary. We have to remove the impediment to negotiations:
that is, the self-serving elite of ZANU that is clinging to
power, that is holding the country to ransom.
process occurs – whether a Presidential election after ninety
days, or an extended transition - it is going to be necessary
immediately to begin to deal with the substantive issues of
the crisis – the humanitarian crisis, the food and other shortages,
and the ending of the violence, the intolerance and the coercion
that is currently taking place.
we see it, the problem with an extended transition is twofold:
first, there are all the problems of working with the ZANU
elite, which has shown itself to be very devious and untrustworthy;
and second, there is the need to set up effective and legitimate
governance as soon as possible. But we are prepared to dialogue
and negotiate with people in other parties who enter into
negotiations in good faith, who demonstrate that they are
committed to a process which is in the interests of the people
as a whole.
What must be discussed and decided in the dialogue and negotiation
for setting up the arrangements to go forward, whether for
elections immediately or for a transitional authority?
there are three phases:
to deal with the problem of Mugabe, the blockage caused by
him remaining in power following the illegitimate electoral
the situation then can lead to the negotiations and discussions
about the transition period: the confidence building measures,
the repeal of draconian legislation, the restoration of impartial
law and order, the urgent steps to deal with the humanitarian
crisis and the economic crisis.
main objective of the transition period must be the setting
up of electoral arrangements and institutions, so that a legitimate
government can be installed and can govern. This needs to
be done urgently, because effective and transparent governance
is needed for the reconstruction of the economy and for meeting
the desperate humanitarian emergency needs.
How do you see the return to the rule of law and the operation
of legitimate legal processes and institutions?
is needed is a national healing process; we in MDC are talking
about, exploring, the question of a Truth and Reconciliation
or Truth and Justice Commission, but what we are meaning and
intending to do is to restore due and lawful process: impunity
can only be dealt with by due process.
judiciary and the police will have to be renovated, renewed
with new values and a new spirit. Security forces are of course
needed, and as we have often said, we know that the majority
of officers are professional and are uncomfortable with the
way they are forced by the regime to carry out illegal actions.
But the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) may not be
amenable to reform.
even as it is presently constituted, needs to be involved.
But the full legitimation of the institutions of government
can only be achieved through a thorough constitutional reform,
a truly consultative and participatory – and unifying – process,
perhaps this will serve as a first example of a national participatory
process, that can serve as a model for other issues. We really
wish to have the constitutional reform process completed in
time for parliamentary elections, in 2005.
How can the culture of violence and impunity be overcome and
MDC stands by its commitment to teach restraint and to live
by its non-violent nature and conviction. This is clearly
its policy, its position. We keep on telling people that there
will be due process for abuses and violations of human rights,
for violence and repression: personal vengeance is not the
for example in the large-scale actions planned for the first
week of June we have trained a large number of marshals, called
on our members and the public to be disciplined, to be focused
on the task at hand: opening the way to negotiations about
the way forward.
are faced with the violence of the party militias, the green
bombers and war veterans, the police and army units deployed
to intimidate and brutalise the people, our members and leaders.
People responsible for this violence will have to be subjected
to due process of the law. We have called on the security
forces, the police and army, to demonstrate their professionalism
by not being used for partisan ends.
How do you see the process of dealing with the emergency issues
of hunger and starvation, and other shortages?
Firstly, we would like to thank the international NGOs for
the splendid job they have done in getting food to many people,
often in the face of provocation and threats from the ZANU
militia and the war veterans.
we have opened the way for change in terms of governance,
we are going to have to ensure that humanitarian aid is increased,
and is distributed effectively and in a non-partisan manner.
We will need the help of NGOs and civil society to ensure
that this happens.
assistance will be needed for some time, given the destruction
of productive agriculture. But it is very important for the
need to be clearly defined, and it has to be seen in relation
to the restoration of agricultural production. We believe
that in two years, if it can be started very soon – and if
we have good rains – it is possible to recover most of agricultural
believe that as soon as it is clear that Zimbabwe is beginning
to return to legitimate governance, and to take steps to deal
with corruption, that credit for fuel and other goods will
be available very quickly.
What would MDC demand and implement in terms of economic recovery?
How would the land issue be resolved in a forward-looking
and progressive way?
The key to starting an economic recovery is the restoration
of the rule of law, a peaceful situation in the country, a
situation of law and order. Confidence-building measures have
to be carried out so that all the potential players can be
reassured that recovery is intended and under way. There needs
to be a clear signal that respect for individual rights and
for property rights has returned.
will need to be significant work in the reconstruction of
institutions, of infrastructure, of government. The manufacturing
sector is in deep crisis, we all know about the crisis in
terms of land and agricultural production, we know about the
crisis of the currency and the exchange rate, the fuel procurement
in order to deal with the overall economic process we need
a commission of enquiry into serious economic crimes, because
the economy at the moment has become distorted with serious
ill-gotten wealth, obtained through theft and looting, corruption,
connections (for example in the privatisation of parastatals),
the black market. To restore confidence to the financial system,
and to the banking and investment sectors, we need this serious
investigation. Whether it should be a parliamentary commission,
or judicial, we haven’t yet clarified. But clearly there will
have to be prosecutions and legal processes to ensure the
return of ill-gotten wealth.
addition, economic recovery will come about through the restoration
and development of a national market which is dynamic, thriving
and healthy. The national market at present has been undermined
and indeed almost destroyed by the black market – for currency,
for fuel, for food – and also by the informalisation of the
financial institutions – banks, the Reserve Bank, the international
partners – will have to be involved in a process of cleansing
and strengthening. New lines of credit will have to be negotiated,
current debts will have to be rescheduled, and we will have
to review whether some loans have been misused.
relation to land, the key thing that is needed is a transparent
land audit, which is politically unbiased and technically
sound. There is real urgency to unbundle unlawful settlements,
but especially the land grab by the ZANU elite.
MDC’s land policy is for a transparent and equitable process
that enhances production – we in no way endorse the status
quo, either of land ownership before the current land invasions,
nor the present chaotic and corrupt situation. Our policy
envisages agriculture being principally based on viable small-scale
market-oriented production, with some larger-scale commercial
agriculture. Resettlement, a very large scale redistribution
of land in favor of hundreds of thousands of rural and even
some urban people, has to be done in a transparent, non-partisan,
orderly manner and must be supported by capable and well-resourced
programmes (both financial and technical). We don’t disagree
with ZANU(PF) on the need for radical land reform; but we
completely disagree with the manner, the corrupt, violent
and destructive way in which it has been done by the ZANU
will be the need to re-capitalize the whole agricultural sector,
as well as to restore capacity to the institutions that should
be servicing and supporting agricultural production.
How does MDC define itself, in the political spectrum, and
in relation to the concept of ‘liberation’? In what ways does
this make it different from ZANU(PF)?
MDC sees the liberation struggle as a national and peoples’
struggle, it is not owned by one party, even less by the elite
or individuals within one party. We believe that the liberation
process has been betrayed by ZANU(PF). We have independence,
but no real freedom, no substantive rights. So the MDC definitely
places itself in the path of continuing and carrying forward
liberation, deepening the sense of liberation. After all,
MDC comes from that history, we are part of the struggle for
Zimbabwe’s freedom; and we believe people have the right and
indeed the duty to continue the struggle.
sees itself as a social-democratic formation, coming out of
a working peoples agenda. The two meetings of 1999, the Working
Peoples Convention and then the launch of the MDC, were intimately
connected. This agenda is the agenda of the majority, the
vast majority of Zimbabweans, who are marginalized and deprived.
we differ from ZANU(PF) is that while they believe that people
are accountable to them, and have to be grateful to them for
having brought independence, and behave in a paternalistic
and patronising manner, we in the MDC aim to unlock and release
peoples’ real control over their lives and their futures.
We believe in real participation, consultation and collective
decision-making. This comes from our primary origin in the
trade union movement.
Do you think the MDC is a united party, with broad agreement
on ideology and policy, and with strong organisational structures?
is a young party, just three years old. It continues to undergo
some transformation. It started as a mass movement, a broad
front, which gradually is becoming a structured political
party, with a consistent and synthesised ideological framework,
which is enabling the party to check and clarify its policy
positions. All this it has had to do while being harassed
and attacked; we have had to operate and develop in a state
of emergency, even if that is undeclared. So we have done
well to come this far.
as it does from the side of the marginalized and the poor,
the MDC is always struggling for finances. Unlike ZANU (PF)
the MDC cannot (and of course will not, when it is in power!)
loot state resources for party needs; nor does it have the
resources that have come to ZANU PF through its financial
and business interests, some of which are extremely corrupt
and nefarious (and which are part of the proof of the betrayal
of the promise of liberation from the ZANU elite).
What do you expect and demand of the international community
in terms of carrying forward the process of change in Zimbabwe?
We expect and demand solidarity from the
international community for the struggle of the Zimbabwe people
to have the opportunity to progress freely, to continue the
struggle for full liberation.
needs political and diplomatic pressure to be maintained and
increased on the small elite of ZANU that is blocking the
way forward. There must be no relaxation: Zimbabwe has to
be seen as, and treated as, a crisis point for Africa.
At the global level?
international institutions need to be more active in taking
up the questions of human rights abuse, corruption, mis-governance:
the destruction of a whole people’s livelihood and prospects
for the future because of the arrogance and pride of a single
man, and a small clique around him, has to be refused, condemned
In the North?
of the north – the European Union, the United States, Canada,
other countries of Europe – need to continue and increase
their isolation of the ruling clique of Zimbabwe, to be consistent
in use of the sanctions that they have imposed, and to develop
new forms of pressure. Also, financial support is needed by
the MDC for its work to make democratic change happen in Zimbabwe.
The African community?
there has been good progress in the last month, there is still
need for a complete convergence among African governments
– a clear understanding that the crisis in Zimbabwe is neither
the land, nor the British, but the crisis of governance: the
centralization and retention of power, by Mugabe and a small
elite around him, through antidemocratic and corrupt practices.
African leaders and governments must increase their pressure
on Mugabe. They have to recognize that the longer the Zimbabwe
crisis is left unresolved, the greater the negative effects
will be on African countries.
Other countries of the South?
third world countries need to see that Zimbabwe at present
is ruled by a rogue regime, which has no legitimacy, which
is essentially run by a criminal elite. The ruling elite has
betrayed the promise of liberation, and now operates in its
own interests. Thus the ruling elite has betrayed the aspirations
of the southern countries, which need to have strong equitable
economies and participatory politics to be able to challenge
the inequalities in the world economy.
International NGOs and Solidarity networks?
civil society needs to ensure that the governments and international
institutions continue to pay attention to the situation in
Zimbabwe, and continue to pressure the ruling elite in Zimbabwe
to accept to take part in the process of returning Zimbabwe
to legitimate governance.
and campaigning around the continuing human rights abuses
is a key activity that needs to continue. Solidarity support
for civil society initiatives and programmes is greatly needed.
MDC itself also is in great need of financial support. Solidarity
for the Zimbabwean people can be expressed through financial
support for the work for democratic change in Zimbabwe that
the MDC is doing.
Zimbabwe must be seen as a test case for Africa, for the resolve
of leaders and peoples to deal with a rogue and illegitimate
regime. We in MDC recognise and affirm that violence does
not resolve such a crisis, and we will not use the same tools
that are used by the repressor.
resistance and action for change ensures that the state does
not fail. We do not say that the state in Zimbabwe has collapsed.
It has been corrupted, and so it needs a political renovation
and renewal, a new spirit, a transformation of its values,
its practices, its structures.
NIZA (Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa),
Hendrikkade 33, 1001 ES Amsterdam
+32 (0) 20 520 6210, Fax +31 (0)20 520 6249
email: [email protected]