LAST week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai exclusively spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent on the topical issues of elections, the contentious constitution-making exercise and the role of the military in politics and the polls.
Report by Faith Zaba/Owen Gagare
This is the second and final part of the edited interview in which Tsvangirai (MT), who is also MDC-T president, spoke to the Independent’s news editor Faith Zaba (FZ) and chief reporter Owen Gagare (OG) on key matters including the party’s primary elections, intra-party violence, corruption and his relationship with President Robert Mugabe.
FZ: Will primary elections in MDC-T include a confirmation process for party heavyweights?
MT: We have a process in which we have a number of constituencies with sitting MPs and others without. We have said why don’t we start primaries in those areas we don’t control, and later on in constituencies we control. There are no sacred cows.
OG: But we hear in constituencies which you control there is going to be a controversial confirmation of candidates, not primaries?
MT: Yes, we do have confirmation of sitting MPs. If the people want to retain an MP they will say so through a vote. If not they (MPs) will be open to primaries.
FZ: But this goes against the democratic principles you claim to uphold; are elections not about allowing people to choose?
MT: The confirmation is done through structures — districts and branches. We say if you want him/her (sitting MP), vote secretly; if he/she wins with a majority, then we retain him or her, but if he/she loses, we open up the process. It’s more democratic.
MT: Confirmation is about you and your constituency. After that, it is for everyone. You don’t want us to confirm?
OG: People are saying it shuts out some prospective candidates.
MT: The party has internal democratic processes.
OG: But the confirmed candidate has an unfair advantage because people are not given the right to choose.
MT: What you are saying is that we should open up everything as if the party is new. The party exists and has MPs and if they have the confidence of the people, why not retain them? Some people want to tear the party apart. We have the responsibility of managing the processes so that we don’t impose people or start with a parliament full of new, inexperienced people.
FZ: You were commended for dealing with corruption at council level, but you are being criticised for focusing on the lower levels only.
MT: I am dealing with the issue of top leadership. There is an internal process to investigate and establish the truth.
FZ: Is anyone currently under investigation?
MT: There have been allegations here and there. People are being investigated.
FZ: How many?
MT: Not many; we will tell you when the time comes. It is not good for people who have been found guilty to then try and mess up other people’s reputations.
OG: People have been waiting for action against party officials named in your report on internal political violence.
MT: Action is already underway. There was a (Harare lawyer Trust) Manda commission which investigated pre and post-election violence and post-congress violence. Those named are now going to appear before a national disciplinary committee chaired by party chairman (Lovemore Moyo).
FZ: Some are saying there is a cover-up because those fingered are top officials like Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.
MT: Yes, she will appear before the national disciplinary committee.
OG: What about Gorden Moyo and Matson Hlalo?
MT: All of them will come before a national disciplinary committee.
OG: Have you had an opportunity in the National Security Council meetings to ask why army generals violate the constitution and laws by uttering pro-Zanu PF political statements?
MT: Yes. Their response has always been that it is an individual opinion and doesn’t represent the institution. But if they are allowed to say what they want, can we have order and discipline in the security sector?
OG: What is the attitude and mood like when you meet the generals?
MT: A lot of barriers have been broken. There was a lot of suspicion and the first meetings were very tense, but now the tensions have eased.
FZ: What is your relationship with President Mugabe like?
MT: It has evolved over time. You know, we had an acrimonious relationship, but now we have a working relationship which has served the country well. We may not have achieved everything, but the coalition would not have worked if our relations were acrimonious.