‘I’m ready to engage with Mugabe’

SINCE former premier Morgan Tsvangirai (MT)’s crushing yet controversial defeat by President Robert Mugabe, a lot has been said about the MDC-T leader and his party, but not much has been heard from the horse’s mouth.

In his first major interview after the July 31 general elections, Tsvangirai talks to the Zimbabwe Independent (ZI) reporters Brian Chitemba and Elias Mambo on a whole range of issues, including his defeat, allegations of election rigging, MDC-T succession debate, state of the party, exit package, the party’s relationship with Sadc and the African Union (AU) and his marriage to Elizabeth Macheka, among other issues.

Below are excerpts of the interview:
ZI: After the general elections, the MDC-T conducted a post-mortem. What variables did you identify to explain your defeat?
MT: There are two variables in this scenario. Firstly, people realised they were shortchanged because the election was run by the military. In military circles, the MDC is considered a threat and was thus targeted to make sure it does not win. There was also the role of the Chinese who supplied Zanu PF with resources and military expertise on mobilisation.

The second variable is that Zanu PF was pursuing power retention so that President Robert Mugabe could win at all costs. The election was also about intra-party fights as Zanu PF had failed to resolve its succession crisis so Mugabe had to throw in everything and bring all the tools, including Nikuv and the Chinese, over and above manipulation of a shambolic voters’ roll.

ZI: Some people say the MDC-T lost because of lack of an election strategy, organisational weaknesses, imposition of candidates and complacency, among other factors. What do you say?
MT: The MDC ran a brilliant campaign with limited resources compared to Zanu PF. We were better organised than them. In fact, this election was a coup under the cover of the ballot where even Zanu PF MPs actually still do not know how they won.

ZI: MDC-T is also accused of failing to appeal to people through its manifesto whereas Zanu PF’s policies had some popular appeal. What is your comment on this?
MT: Our manifesto was brilliant. It talks about jobs and upliftment. We had a clear strategy on what to do once elected into office. Zanu PF’s chaotic land reform and indigensiation policy could not have helped them win elections in a situation where millions are unemployed.

ZI: MDC-T claims a flawed electoral process, rigging and military presence played a big part in the election outcome, but this happened under your watch and leadership as prime minister. Does this not show the MDC was sleeping on the job while Zanu PF was working?
MT: In theory, we shared power, but Mugabe refused to implement all agreed reforms. I even spoke to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for an update on all electoral issues, but Zec was under the control of the military. We tried all we could but there was fierce resistance until the time for elections.

ZI: Did you have enough resources for the polls and tied to this, we understand the party is now retrenching workers because of financial problems. What is the situation?
MT: MDC had limited resources, but that alone did not affect our performance in the elections. We managed to run our election directorate and also managed to pay our election agents.
As a party, we rely on state funding through the Political Parties Fund Act and also individual support but the costs of an election are heavy. In terms of retrenchments, we hired a lot of people towards the elections and we cannot continue with them because their job was specifically on polls.

ZI: There are reports that Sadc had advised the MDC formations not to enter the election unless agreed Global Political Agreement (GPA) reforms were implemented. May you clarify this for us?
MT: Sadc never advised us on anything. All they had been saying was go and implement all the reforms. We have minutes of all the meetings and we were never advised not to enter the elections. The problem is Sadc had no leverage to make sure that what they wanted implemented could be done and Mugabe took advantage of that, resulting in his refusal to comply.

ZI: Given that agreed reforms were not fully implemented, do you think you should have participated in the elections?
MT: We did not participate in the elections on the basis that reforms had been implemented or not. We participated because people wanted elections and also because everyone was confident that this time around even if rigging took place, we were going to overturn that by our sheer huge numbers.

ZI: South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu suggested the MDCs did not do enough to push for reforms and were therefore partly responsible for their downfall. Can you comment on that?
MT: Evidence is there that we pushed. We have records to show what was transpiring during negotiations. We played our part; what more could we have done? Take up arms? No, we needed to engage in a diplomatic manner. The facilitators played their role too and it is not proper for Zulu to say she did more than us. Their duty as facilitators was to bring warring parties to the negotiating table.

ZI: You have mentioned that you will continue appealing to Sadc and AU over the disputed election results, but how useful is that strategy given that they have already endorsed the outcome?
MT: This is a struggle and we need to continue with diplomatic engagements. Sadc abandoned its guidelines on elections by endorsing this farce and we want to show them the futility of approving stolen elections.

ZI: Some people are saying they don’t sympathise with MDC-T over its loss because you appeared to be getting cosy with Mugabe and did not push for reforms hard enough. They also say you were in charge of the election process and therefore you have no grounds for complaining. What’s your comment?
MT: I approached Mugabe diplomatically while people wanted me to confront him. It was about the people and resolving the crisis facing the country. The inclusive government could not have achieved all these results if we had confronted Mugabe like what some people expected.

ZI: When you withdrew your Constitutional Court application, you complained about a compromised judiciary and partisan judges. Why did you go there in the first place if you believed they are hopelessly biased against you?
MT: We withdrew our case because we saw the unfairness of the whole process. Any petition of an election is a public hearing, but we were asked to proceed through affidavits. It was obvious we were not going to have a fair hearing. We went there because courts are there for people to seek justice which we were denied from the word go. Even after withdrawing our case, the courts refused to accept our decision claiming we could not do that.

ZI: This weekend you revealed you had a detailed dossier outlining how the election was rigged. Why did you withdraw your court application if you had evidence? Would you kindly share with us the information?
MT: The dossier is there. Once it is summarised we will be able to share it with you. Evidence of rigging is there. How can you explain 17 000 people being assisted to vote in one constituency? In (new Justice minister) Emmerson Mnangagwa’s constituency (Zibagwe in Midlands) there are 42 000 people, including children according to the last census, but most of them voted for him. Go and check.

ZI: Many people believe MDC-T managed badly the aftermath of its defeat with political analysts saying the leadership was found wanting. We understand the issue came out during your retreat at Mandel Training Centre and also last week when Professor Brian Raftopoulos gave a report to the standing committee. What has been happening?
MT: Where we have been found wanting we accepted, but we are largely victims of a stolen election. Our shortcomings could not have contributed to such a Zanu PF victory. There was massive rigging. Raftopoulos also came to the conclusion that this is a militarised state and Zanu PF patronage also helped them win the polls.

ZI: Given that you lost to Mugabe in 2002, 2008 and 2013. In other parts of the world after losing elections like this leaders usually voluntarily step down. Do you think you have played your part and you must now allow leadership renewal? Are you going to contest for the MDC leadership at the 2016 congress?
MT: The MDC has a constitutional process of choosing who should lead it. I have been the leader since the party’s inception and as long as the people express their interest in my leadership, I will lead them. I have asked people to engage in the debate of leadership renewal and those willing to take over must come out in the open. It should not be done secretly. I have said this in the (national) council that it is time to talk about leadership renewal.

ZI: The succession issue seems to have gripped MDC-T, and Roy Bennett has suggested it’s time for you to go, while others say your relationship with some senior officials such as your secretary-general (SG) Tendai Biti is fanning divisions. Do you think it’s time for you to go? How do you relate to Biti and others?
MT: Bennett has expressed his personal opinion on the social media, but not to the party. We have proper channels of communicating within the party. As for Biti, he is my SG and we meet daily to discuss the party strategies. We have a good working relationship.

ZI: There are also reports the MDC-T is in disarray after the elections given the turmoil of councillors voting for Zanu PF candidates. What is going on?
MT: The councillors who revolted should be accountable to the people who voted for them. They will have to go back to their constituencies and explain what happened. The party will also hold them accountable and they may be recalled. In Victoria Falls the councillors were bribed by a Zanu PF cabinet minister and a senior party official from Mutare. We have two councillors from Chitungwiza who came forward to say they were given US$500 by Zanu PF.

ZI: After the elections, did Mugabe or Zanu PF approach you and the MDC-T over possible co-option into government?
MT: Mugabe never approached me or anyone in the MDC. We heard of it through the media. But we are ready to engage as long as it is good for the country.

ZI: Since you were prime minister, are you going to be getting any pension?
MT: That subject has not been discussed. I will meet the president now that we have a cabinet and engage him on such issues and others which may help Zimbabwe move forward.

ZI: Some in Zanu PF were pushing for your eviction from your Highlands house. What is the status of the house now? Are you going to purchase it?
MT: It shows vindictiveness of some petty people who are not prepared to accept others with different ideas around them. They hate me because I am a threat to their greed, corruption and ill-gotten wealth. Well, as I have said, I will have to meet Mugabe first and will see whether they will offer me the place and if I can afford it then make arrangements to pay for it. As of now, it is state property.

ZI: The public media has been awash with stories concerning your wife and your private life. Would you like to say something about this?
MT: It was done to humiliate me. It was done to finish me off and to demoralise me after the elections. Marriage is about two people and no one would want someone to interfere in their private lives, but I don’t really want to dwell on my private life.

35 thoughts on “‘I’m ready to engage with Mugabe’”

  1. Patrick makoni says:

    Zanu can not manage the economy and it also has poor international relations.election victory by zanu means more squabbles in the economy

    1. sandie says:

      what do sanctions do to the economy?

      1. kumbi says:

        imagine you live in a village and some guy you dated goes around telling everyone that Sandie has got sick(a sexually transmitted disease ) after that your chances of finding a guy to marry you in the village are greatly reduced most guys from good families wont even want to shake your hand and some girls also wont want to be friends with you for fear that they will be labeled with the same brush as you!

        therefore sanctions make investors not to want to invest in the country even some wont want to buy what the country is selling

        all these reduce the size of the economy and jobs

    2. eky says:

      iwewe dzikama uti mwii, udye sadza nekuchengeta vapwere

  2. mukorekore says:

    I hope this is diplomacy and not policy. Mugabe is a snake.

  3. sandie says:

    b4 announcement of cabinet Morgan waiti haudi kutaura neBob. How many turnarounds from Morgan so far? Many many.

  4. Butler Kapumha says:

    I am left with the impression that Morgan Tsvangirai is too defensive and seeks to blame other people for everything. He has been blaming Chinese, Israelites, SADC, Jacob Zuma, Thabo Mbeki, Nkosana Dhlamini Zuma, AU, General Obasanjo, ZDF, ‘ZANU youth’ fot his humiliating defeat. ZANU-PF is good, but to any stable minded person, it is impossible to imagine ZANU coordinating all these people in Africa, some heads of state etc. We are waiting for him to take responsibility for something, at least. For his failed love life he blamed ZANU-PF, CIO, Theresa Makone. For his 20 year old baby mama, he has never seen his kid. He is a wasted cause. Morgan Tsvangirai now risks losing the little reputation left of him.

    1. what stupit ideas to be married with someone who does not love you
      live zanu pf along

    2. Wekumusha says:

      Boss, I wish you could be objective in your critism of this guy…..get this correct

      ” Where we have been found wanting we accepted, but we are largely victims of a stolen election.

      Is nt that acceptance of responsibility?

    3. Murombo says:

      Wouldn’t you say the same thing for Mugabe? He blames the West for our continued problems . He has had five do since 1980. Wouldn’t you say he is also to defensive?

      1. kumbi says:

        at list sometimes you hear Mugabe talking about some of the mistake he or zanu made, with tsvagi everything is someone else he or mdc never make a mistake

  5. moyo says:

    The man is refusing to get real.What makes him to believe all Zimbabweans should vote for him?

    his performance during the GNU was pathetic;his private life was a mess.Someone tell him that a politician has no private life.

    This belief that if people suffer then they vote for a certain party is skewed.I am one of those who doubted the man’s capability to lead the country after his stint in the GNU.As for the MDC politicians, they are also corrupt.The leader and the party are not democratic,what they are after is power for themselves and not the people.

    If Mr Mugabe fixes the economy, the MDC will be history.I respect Mr Mugabe for his contribution to the liberation struggle,his patriotism and clarity of his principles and goals.

  6. eky says:

    Morgan you are just but a dog. more bark less bite hahaha go and heard cattle @ Buhera. Waiiti ungaitonga Zimbabwe iyewe

  7. what stupit ideas to be married with someone who does not love you
    live zanu pf along

  8. Chikotosa P says:

    We must remember Morgan had been systimatically dumped,from Welshmen’s detachment to his own MDCT trusted followers.The man should strike a deal with VaMugabe, for his own survival.Imagine going back to the trenches for the next 5 years without any winning prospects in sight.Even his western backers have turned their backs against him.Zvakatopera let him start a new life and let the country move forward.

  9. pidzo says:

    tsvangirai is just being defencive and confused.election was stolen.i will engage Mugabe kkkkkkkk.go rest out of politics shamwari kune beter leaders in mdc.

  10. tru says:

    i sense hurt in all your comments, devastated hearts. what to do about it is the issue…you can not demonstrate for fear of being crashed….your war liberator has become your freedom oppressor..shame, i pray that the good Lord heals you of your emotional pain. god let that happen for a reason and one of them is endurance. FEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. ngubo ngubo says:

    MT: The MDC has a constitutional process of choosing who should lead it. I have been the leader since the party’s inception and as long as the people express their interest in my leadership, I will lead them. I have asked people to engage in the debate of leadership renewal and those willing to take over must come out in the open. It should not be done secretly. I have said this in the (national) council that it is time to talk about leadership renewal.

    This is a line borrowed from R.G .If south Africans and indeed ANC still wanted Madiba to Lead ,but he felt it was time to hand on the batton.It was Mandela’s choice he felt he had done his party .Why can’t the former PM do the same.This Guy is no different from Mugabe,as long as people want I can lead .Wena do you want?(it seems he has no choice) Power hungry.This is a sign that the tea meetings he had with Mugabe sure taught him how to cling and never see the future of MDC-T without his leadership.same as Gushungo’ party.

    ZANU PF can not survive behond Bob ,MDC-T can not survive behond Tsvangson,thats how their leadership view their parties.Are their no Leaders in these parties besides these two?Poor zanu and Mdc-T

    Oh I think its better for the MDC-T because it has a T, its owned by and individual.if its a business its a sole trader .haa Sole party ne… kkkk. So yes ,Do not leave Mr Former PM it yor toy.

  12. admire says:

    Who remebers Morgan Tsvangirai telling people that Zanu pf is calling on him to come and talk??
    ? Now he is saying Zanu pf never did that. I remeber Rugare Gumbo also denying this and he was ridiculed. How many lies do you keep telling us Mr Tsvangirai?? Nxaaa

  13. Joe Cool says:

    Mr flip-flop does it again! ‘I will engage with Mugabe for the good of Zimbabwe’. What he means is that he is going to ask Bob to donate him the house he lives in. Where could he have honestly come by the money to buy it? If the MDC don’t get rid of the ‘T’, they are going nowhere in 2018.

  14. Wegona says:

    This is totally hogwash. Tsvangirai is blaming the rest of the people not himself. Tsvangirai should should learn to take responsibility of his fate. He is a victim, cry baby who doesn`t want to accept responsibility. Tsvangirai thus not the way you rule a country. At least accept one mistake not to deny all the stuff. Now you are chasing all the counsillors for what? For exercising their democratic rights.

  15. Kirimu Dhonanzi says:

    Mr Tsvangirai says he is ready to engage with Mugabe for the “good of the country”. It appears you never learn, Morgan. Your “engagement” with Mugabe has led to the current mess. Tsvangirai is also keen to buy the govt house he was occupying as PM. Why? If he has the money why not just hunt for a house in the market. He must not continue surviving on Mugabe’s benevolence. There is need to maintain self-respect. I have a feeling that Morgan wants to have things the easy way. That is not the mark of good leadership.

    1. Murombo says:

      You are wrong. Having served Zimbabwe as a prime minister he is entitled by right to have the house offered to him at a discount. It’s not Mugabe’ benevolence. Mugabe does not personally own the house. The house belongs to tax payers like you and me that is if you are a tax payer. Mugabe can however deny Tsvangirayi his right to own the house. And that wouldnt be surprising.

      1. patrick says:

        Murombo my boy or whatever you are, morgan is not entitled to that house! Where did you get that hogwash from? Vhunza varimuhurumende vakuudze usati waratidza vanhu kuti uri dera!

        1. Kirimu Dhonanzi says:

          You are right Patrick. No-one, not even the President, is entitled to a govt house as an exit package. There is no such law here or even abroad. Did Tony Blair take No. 10 Downing Street when he got out of office? No, he didn’t. Did Bill Clinton take the White House when he left? No, he didn’t. Nearer home, did Ian Douglas Smith take his Prime Ministerial residence when he left office? No he didn’t.

  16. Chin says:

    I wrote numerous warning comments to many on-line websites – this one was to the Zimbabwe Mail on the 15 October 2012 after Chinamasa has stated that ZanuPF apparatchiks would not allow MDC to take over in the event of somehow winning the mock elections:-

    People are shooting the messenger here – Chinamasa is only the messenger of the ZanuPF military and is saying the truth. What he is saying actually happened in the 2008 mock election when the army and ZanuPF militias terrorised opponents and Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw from the Presidential race leaving Mugabe as only candidate. The army had previously stopped the Electoral Commission from publishing the elections results for weeks. Is Chinamasa saying something which never happened? No. Is he saying something which will happen with all certainty? Oh Yes.
    Why then did Tsvangirai go around the world a few weeks ago telling world leaders that Mugabe is ready to hand over power willingly? Where did Tsvangirai get this idea? How will a new Constitution stop this? ZanuPF is not serious about any Constitution. A new Constitution means nothing to ZanuPF military. Mugabe does as the military wants. He will be there for life. Time cannot move fast enough for me – I want to write a comment in November 2013 saying “I TOLD YOU SO” – when the ZanuPF military has had its final say and Mugabe remains President.
    THE MDC-T SIMPLY IGNORED ALL WARNINGS THAT THEY WERE DEALING WITH A ZANUPF MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. THEY ONLY STARTED LISTENING TO THE LIKES OF PROF BRIAN RAFTOPOULOS after THEY HAD LOST THE MOCK ELECTION. The MDCs were far too arrogant to listen to anyone – the 47% garnered in the 2008 election had gone to their heads.

    1. Murombo says:

      I agree with you on the fact that Zanu and the military have declared that Tsvangirayi will never rule Zimbabwe. Sadly is true. People blame Tsvangirayi for failing to win election but I think people need to realise Zanu would never let him win by whatever means necessary.
      Maida kuti aite sei?

  17. Murombo says:

    Many of the things Tsvangirayi is saying sounds reasonable and factual.
    Two things though. I agree he needs to hold his hands up in situations where he is at fault.
    I also think that he had been in the business for too long. It may be time for voluntary retirement from leadership, otherwise it begins to sound just like another little Zanu.
    I personally thank him for the battle for democracy he has fought for a long time. Without him we could have been a one party state. Other Cadres such as Edgar Tekere also helped mantain the democracy agenda.
    We will forever remain indebted to these guys.
    I think it’s time for you Mr Tsvangirayi to retire gracefully while you are still ahead. Avoid the mistake that Mr Mugabe did ie overstaying his welcome.

  18. Chokx says:

    Some Zanu PF Mps dont know how they won and the MDC doesnt know how it lost very funny Chematama

  19. mukwasha wamacheka says:

    Of course Save is the project. MaZimbos akadzidza u mean you cant c that up to now. He has to keep u busy following him and making sure no real opposition emerges.Look back carefully. hahaha

  20. Dzvinyangoma says:

    Why would Tsvangirai be ready to meet with a president whose election result he does not recognise? Is he ready to legitimise the outcome of the elections? Sounds like the dude is full of confusion. These journos could have done a better job of asking Tsvangirai follow on questions because some of his answers are weak and could have easily been challenged.

  21. Laura says:

    pamberi nezanu pf, pasi nevapanduki, i supported mdc before, but this is too much ,m they lack direction

  22. Chin says:

    Tsvangirai’s doesn’t plan anything, he just acts on impulse – in any job you negotiate terms (perks) during interview before you start the job not after you leave the job. Why did he not negotiate his pension in 2008? He deluded himself that being President-in-waiting was fait accompli before a vote was cast. What a fool!

  23. Chingara says:

    Main actor akafa. The producer needs to look for another actor to restart production. Tsangirai out and buried.

  24. blame says:

    VaTsvangirai ndinokutendai nekuzvipira kwenyu,kune vazhinji vanyora ma comments avo muchivashora zvinoreva kuti hamusi vebato reMDC.Imi munoti vaTsvangirai ndivo vangabvisa vaMugabe pachigaro here? kwete! tikasavhota zvakasimba angabva sei mukuru uyu. Army nezwimwe zvose zvokutyisidzira zvikudivi raBaba Chatunga,moti vaTsvangirai vaite sei? Tsvangirai is not a violent leader he uses democracy, let us be patient with one another.guys. Vakahwina ndivo varikutukwa vakadyiwa ndivo voseka.Zuva rimwe gava richadambura musungo. Save musacheuka muridzo.

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