Tichaona Zindoga THE INTERVIEW
A lot of developments have taken place in the MDC-T party since the death of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently. There has been internal fighting within the party with factionalism and accusations of disregard of the party’s constitution taking an ugly toll. Our Political Editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ) speaks to suspended spokesperson Obert Gutu (OG) on this and other issues.
TZ: First of all what is Obert Gutu’s status in the MDC-T party and Alliance?
OG: Officially, I am the MDC-T national spokesperson. My purported suspension from office is null and void in that it dismally failed to comply with the provisions of Article 5.11 as read with Article 12.1 of the MDC constitution. My purported suspension is laughable, baseless, frivolous and vexatious.
Even to this very day, I still haven’t been served with a letter of suspension. Whoever is going to be foolish enough to author such a baseless and puerile letter will have to face the legal consequences of their stupidity and idiocy.
TZ: Can you explain what the constitutional provisions are and whether you have been served with a letter?
OG: Article 5.11 of the MDC constitution states that the National Council will have to vote by a two thirds majority if they wanted to take action against me regarding my continued membership of the party. I should also have been notified, in writing, of the reasons for my suspension.
In addition, I should have been afforded the opportunity to make representations in writing or in person to the National Council. All this was never complied with. It was more of a kangaroo court session. Article 12.1 of the MDC constitution stipulates that no disciplinary proceedings against any member of the National Standing Committee shall be commenced without the approval of a two thirds majority of the National Council.
The National Council never voted to take disciplinary measures against me. This is a complete dog’s breakfast. The kangaroo court session that purportedly suspended me should be dismissed with the utter contempt and disdain that it rightfully deserves.
TZ: You insist on running for Harare East, which appears to run contrary to the spirit of the Alliance. Tell us, what is your personal attitude towards the Alliance idea, whether it is acceptable and whether it will hold for the op- position?
OG: I have always passionately advocated the idea of a holistic, progressive and winning coalition matrix. However, it ceases to make sense when we start parcelling out seats in our traditional strongholds to coalition partners. This defies political logic.
We should seek coalition partners in those constituencies where we have traditionally performed badly. That said, I am definitely going to contest in Harare East constituency and there’s only one result that’s going to be announced, a resounding and emphatic electoral victory for Obert Chaurura Gutu!
TZ: But are you not defying the party position on coalition, which may yet cause you to face disciplinary action? In this connection I want to ask whether you will be prepared to stand as an indepen- dent?
OG: I am going to stand as a candidate of the MDC-T that respects and upholds the tenets of our party constitution.
No, I am not defying the party position on a coalition. You can go to Harare East constituency right now and enquire from MDC-T cadres whether or not they are comfortable with the imposition of a candidate from the PDP. The cadres will tell you, in your face, that they will neither campaign nor vote for an imposed coalition can- didate.
TZ: That seems to suggest there could be more than one MDC-T? Recently we saw reports of another split looming in the party following clashes related to succession following the death of party leader Mr Tsvangirai. What is the state of the party now post-Morgan Tsvangirai and the new tenure of Nelson Chamisa?
OG: We are finding each other. Yes, there might be some turbulence here and there but at the end of the day, MDC cadres will always agree on the way forward. All we have got to do is to be sincere and honest with each other as well as to respect and uphold the MDC constitution.
TZ: You have largely been seen to associate yourself with Thokozani Khupe, party deputy who appears to be defying the leadership change that brought in Mr Chamisa. What are we to understand from your association with Khupe?
OG: I associate with all cadres of the MDC-T . I am one person who is fiercely independent minded. I don’t believe in factionalism. I just want to be guided by what the party constitution says as well as by the values, traditions and ethos of the party. Nothing more, nothing less.
TZ: One of the subplots in MDC-T leadership battles has been violence and we saw it being directed at Khupe and others recently. What is the genesis and anatomy of intra-party violence in the MDC-T and as lately wit- nessed?
OG: I honestly don’t know the genesis of violence in our party. I am equally puzzled. I suspect that there could actually be a third force in all this. However, I would like us, as the leadership, to practise what we preach. We shouldn’t be devious, fake and full of double standards. We should genuinely denounce and renounce the use of violence as a tool for political mobilisation and manoeuvring. We shouldn’t speak with a forked tongue.
TZ: But violence deployed within the party has been a factor even before the demise of Tsvangirai and inquiries were even made. Is there a culture of impunity? And people would like to know what the so-called Vanguard is and its place in MDC struc- tures?
OG: In my personal space, I would rather we re-orient our party youths and teach them about the values and ethos of non- violence and political tolerance. This is work in progress. The third force element should also be fully ventilated.
State security agents, have, over the years, sought to infiltrate our party structures as a deliberate and well-calculated ploy to cause violence, disunity, disaffection, alarm and despondency. As the leadership, we shouldn’t abuse the Vanguard by buying them intoxicating substances so that they can operate as hired guns.
TZ: Lastly, the opposition is by many metrics fragmented and weak. What chance do you have against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and what will be the precondition for opposition triumph in the forthcoming election?
OG: If free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe, we will easily cruise to a very comfortable electoral victory. Presently, Zanu-PF is extremely weak and incorrigibly factionalised.
They can only “win” by rigging the elections. As it is, Zanu-PF will be very lucky to win 15 percent of the national vote. The people of Zimbabwe are completely fed up with Zanu-PF’s sordid record of misgovernance, rampant corruption, incompetence and inefficiency. Zimbabweans are crying out for a new beginning, a fresh start.