Amid ongoing talk about the need for another interim governing structure to stem Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crises – in the mould of the 2009 to 2013 unity government which brought relative stability to the country – opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has no intentions of ever working with President Robert Mugabe again.
At the same time, the former prime minister in that inclusive government also told the Daily News in an exclusive interview yesterday that the country’s meddlesome security sector was likely to have a major say in who would succeed Mugabe within the nonagenarian’s warring Zanu-PF.
“I currently have no real relationship with Mugabe. In fact, I last saw him on the eve of the last elections in 2013. I made a number of attempts to see him but was told that first I had to recognise him as the winner of that sham election. So, I have not met him and he has kept his distance, just as I have kept mine.
“If there are people who are talking about another GNU (government of national unity) of sorts I am not aware of that and given the bad experiences we had in the GNU it will honestly be a hard-sell,” he said.
Tsvangirai, who appears to be on the road to full recovery after falling ill earlier this year and undergoing chemotherapy treatment in South Africa, said he had little doubt that the country’s military chiefs – who Zanu-PF insiders say are supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the ruling party’s brutal factional and succession wars – would have a major say on who succeeds Mugabe.
And as the country hurtles towards the crunch 2018 elections, the indefatigable former trade union leader also called upon Zimbabweans to not just brace up for even tougher times ahead, but also actively participate in demanding much-needed electoral reforms in the country if their lot was to improve.
“History has taught us that Zanu-PF will not move unless it is cornered. While they did that with the Constitution, we now have a new Constitution. And they didn’t like a GNU but were also forced into it through pressure.
“So, we are saying Nera (the National Electoral Reform Agenda) is a good platform to put pressure on Mugabe to change. If we don’t do this, holding any election with a semblance of credibility is going to be impossible,” Tsvangirai said.
It was in this light that he felt that the role of the military would continue to be important going into the future.
“The military issue is still an important factor as the security establishment is part of the ruling elite. So, they should be made to understand that they are part of the solution and not the problem.
“When you hear them (military) talking about corruption, you will know that indirectly the military will have a say in Zanu-PF’s succession wars. It is a fair assessment to say very little takes place in Zanu-PF without their involvement,” he said.
On Mnangagwa, Tsvangirai said the Midlands godfather and Mugabe were “birds of the same feather” – adding that even though he appeared to have the support of the military, the odds were against him with regards to succeeding the nonagenarian.
“It is an almost impossible task for Mnangagwa to take over. Even if he did, we would still have more of the same problems, unless if the system is changed fundamentally.
“At the moment, any change would simply be just replacing one individual with another, with the same problems and system characteristics in place. In that sense, it would be foolhardy to think that replacing Mugabe with Emmerson, without fundamental reforms that are needed to transform government, would help anyone.
“In fact, it would be a waste of time because it would be a perpetuation of the same character and evil system,” Tsvangirai said.
“There is an urgent need to change the system and it can be done . . . as was done during the GNU. People are suffering. People are living in dire straits and like they say, when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. We need to end the current madness.
“As the MDC, we are committed to playing our part in solving the problems, but we are not government. Zanu-PF should give in now and pave the way for a proper election to finally take place in the interest of the country,” he added.