MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has expressed scepticism on devolution saying it could be used as a springboard to secession.
Report by Herbert Moyo
Addressing a small gathering of Bulawayo-based pastors on the eve of his party’s 13th anniversary celebrations in the city last Friday, Tsvangirai revealed his deep-rooted fears and distrust of devolution and warned that although his party supported the idea, care had to be taken in its implementation as it could be used for secession or breakaway.
“We are writing a constitution for the future and we have to be careful because it (devolution) may be used as a stepping stone to secession in the future,” warned Tsvangirai.
He said devolution should not be mistaken with federalism and should only be used to provide sufficient authority to local government for planning local processes of development, if adopted.
Executive director of Bulawayo Agenda Thabani Nyoni said devolution remained the best hope of building trust in Zimbabwe amid widespread polarisation created by extremes of democratic centrism at the heart of Zanu PF politics and the secessionist demands of political parties like the Mthwakazi Liberation Front.
“It is important to understand where the PM’s sentiments are coming from,” said Nyoni. “It’s unfortunate his sentiments resonate with Zanu PF, but we have to be sure whether this expresses genuine fear or an aversion to devolution itself.”
Tsvangirai’s remarks suggest there could actually be opposition to devolution in the upper echelons of the MDC-T.
However, MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson Gorden Moyo said although they did not get the “full devolution package” they wanted because of opposition from Zanu PF, the party’s Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces would support the draft because it represented a positive development compared to the status quo.
“There are no divisions in the party over this (devolution) or any other issue,” said Moyo. “Even though we feel more powers could have been devolved, we have all resolved to support the draft because we take it as a starting point towards the attainment of the full devolution that we have fought so long for.”
Tensions are simmering in the MDC-T over devolution and insiders say senior Matabeleland party officials are highly disgruntled at their party leadership for conceding to Zanu PF’s preferred decentralisation policy rather than devolution.
According to the sources, hardliners such as Bulawayo MPs like Felix Mafa, Agnes Mloyi and Thabitha Khumalo are unhappy with the way the party has capitulated on devolution and the feeling is that the party is ready to sacrifice the interests of its members in Matabeleland to please Zanu PF.