ZINASU factions head to head on BTH

zinasuThis is Part 1 of a heated debate on Behind the Headlines featuring the two spokespersons of the rival Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) factions. SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma moderates as Kudakwashe Chakabva and Wisdom Mgagara battle it out to explain why the students union split and who is the legitimate executive out of the two?

Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of Behind the Headlines. As some of you will be aware, the Zimbabwe National Students Union, otherwise known as ZINASU, split into two factions sometime last year over disagreements over various issues, one of which was which direction to take with the constitution making process.

So what we have decided to do, since there has since been two congresses by two different factions and two executives elected, weve got the spokespersons from the two factions onto the programme, Ive got Wisdom Mgagara who is from the executive led by Joshua Chinyere and Ive got Kudakwashe Chakabva who is from the Executive led by Tafadzwa Mugwadi, gentlemen, thank you very much for taking your time and joining us.

Kudakwashe Chakabva: You are welcome

Wisdom Mgagara: Yes, thank you.

Guma: Right, let me start with you Kudakwashe Chakabva from the Tafadzwa Mugwadi executive, from your side of the fence, why do we have this problem where we have two executives claiming to be the legitimate ZINASU?

Chakabva: I think the whole problem emanates from some few individuals, I am sure they are just power-hungry individuals who are trying to make Zimbabwe National Students Union a platform for self-enrichment. If you go back, if you trace the events leading to this so-called split, that it emanates from the General Council meeting that was held in Harare on the 27th of July 2009, whereby (Lovemore) Chinoputsa was deposed from power through a vote of no confidence by the students of Zimbabwe General Council then that disgruntlement emanated from his failure to execute his duties fully and from there Brilliant Dube led a group of students into forming something that they call a National Executive Council but what you have to remember also is that Brilliant Dube was suspended even before she had created this thing called another ZINASU.

Guma: OK thats your side of the story. Lets go to Wisdom Mgagara, the Joshua Chinyere executive, whats your take on what Kudakwashe has just said?

Mgagara: Our position is that these divisions, they emanated from a problem which was caused by competitive individuals as well who believed that they are the gurus of the student union. What is the so-called General Council which toppled Lovemore Chinoputsa was not constitutional because we have an issue whereby the students who were there to represent the students..and we also have an issue of the constitution whereby the then president Clever Bere had to move a motion on the position of the students that the students of Zimbabwe had (inaudible) denied a constitution and had to align himself to the Madhuku agenda of the Take Charge campaign.

This was again unconstitutional and an extraordinary General Council which is in the provision of the constitution of ZINASU that even then that there is an office bearer who has abused his powers, theres need for that and that general extraordinary General Council, we had on the 22nd of August 2009 whereby Clever Bere was ousted out of office and Brilliant Dube was elevated to the President of the Union.

Guma: OK, youve raised one interesting issue which has been the dominant theme here that this whole disagreement was over the constitution making process where one faction was supported by the NCA and Dr Lovemore Madhuku and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the other faction supported by the MDC and others who thought that taking part in the constitution making process was the best thing. Let me start with you Kudakwashe. Is it true then to say the students are not really in disagreement here, its the organisations outside ZINASU who have their own agendas that are manipulating the students? Would you agree to that?

Chakabva: I actually totally dismiss that. We as the National Executive Council were given the mandate to endorse the Take Charge campaign, the so-called Madhuku campaign. It is now a popular phenomenon in all colleges of Zimbabwe that when you go there, we are actually called the Orange Revolutionaries. It is not, it is not something, it has nothing to do with the NCA chairman, it is actually within the students themselves that we have nothing to do with the constitution making process that is stipulated under Article Six. Of course there are certain influences especially those at the Crisis Coalition who are trying to field some differences within the students of Zimbabwe. I actually do not consider what the spokesperson, the guy on the other line, what he says because we actually think that he is part of my constituents I speak on his behalf as a student. It is actually a nullity that he is actually saying some things that concern the Union because I am the only one who can speak on behalf of the Union.

Guma: OK, clearly, obviously there is disagreement. There are two factions, both claiming to be the legitimate ZINASU which is why we are having this programme to discuss these issues. Let me come to you Wisdom, in the first discussion, last year I hosted a debate between Brilliant Dube and Clever Bere and the obvious thing that came out was that Clever Beres Executive was against the constitution and Brilliant Dubes one supported the constitution making process. Is this something that both factions can deny that this rift really has been driven by the constitution making process?

Mgagara: Yah, truly thats where the problem emanates from. In fact on the 22nd of August when Brilliant Dube was elevated to be the president of the Union, there was a resolution there which was adopted by the legitimate students and they say that the students of Zimbabwe were agreeing to write the constitution and from that resolution, the resolution was later taken to a Congress which we had on the 19th of December 2009 where it was also added that the students of Zimbabwe have agreed to writing the constitution.

So Im surprised that there are still a group of people who still claim to be student leaders, yet as I speak right now weve got our Secretary General Grant Tabvurei who is in Mutare where he is meeting the students, telling them about the progress on the issue of the constitution and as I speak right now, Im in Midlands, where Im talking to the students, talking to them about the issue of the constitution and the students have responded in a positive way because they are cooperating and they have said to us that it is a privilege that we need to write a constitution that will benefit us and our siblings and even the generations to come.

So I think the position being taken by our fellow guys is a selfish decision because how can you just say I do not want to get into.(inaudible)havent seen a problem with that, so the students of Zimbabwe, they have made it clear from the resolution we had that they are going to have a constitution.

Guma: OK, how difficult is it to get the two sides to agree and have one united voice because I remember there was a meeting, again last year to try and bridge the differences and have one Congress. This collapsed of course over several disagreements which we want to get to. Let me start with you Kudakwashe Chakabva from the Tafadzwa Mugwadi executive, why did the meeting fail to get the two sides to have one Congress? What were the major obstacles?

Chakabva: I am sure you are referring to the period when Clever Bere was still in power?

Guma: Yes.

Chakabva: What I know is we had some certain set of conditions that we thought could be discussed and probably endorsed and amongst the conditions were that the current secretariat, or the then secretariat should be dissolved, one. Secondly with the mandate that there should be a forensic audit of the Zimbabwe National Students Union financial affairs for the past three years and we actually do not know the reason why the comrades failed to endorse such conditions. It is our belief that an external force was used to impede the effort and for reasons which we are sure are just selfish ends

Guma: Let me, Wisdom can you respond to that? What caused the collapse of the attempts to get the unions together?

Mgagara: Im sure that the reason why we couldnt have one Congress is that the one ousted president, Clever Bere, had to give some demands which even if you go to Mars youll not get them. He demanded that he wanted six months in the office to lead the students union and when his term was over, point number one. (Tafadzwa interrupts laughing).

Then point number two we also have some individuals who are using ZINASU to be their political battle field to settle their scores the likes of Lovemore Madhuku, the likes of (Takura) Zhangazha. Those guys they are godfathers for those guys and I remember well that there was once a close agreement, whereby these guys had agreed that they were going to have one Congress but to my surprise, the next meeting which was held, Clever Bere was now talking something else which means that there were some people whom he had to go and consult who were telling him what to do and which is the same problem even happening.

As the students we dont have problems, I dont have problems with Two boy (Tafadzwa Mugwadi) from UZ, I dont have problems with Kurayi Hoyi but the problem is that we have got some individuals who are using ZINASU to their playground, where they want to achieve their issues. The Madhuku agenda is the unpopular thing, to the people of Zimbabwe the (inaudible) thing and therefore they know that the students are a big force for change and therefore they can use the students to manipulate the agenda so hence the problem which you have in ZINASU.

Guma: OK Kudakwashe I heard you laughing as Wisdom was talking there, is there anything that you object to what he said, particularly the fact that hes alleging Clever Bere had requested an extra six months in office. Is that true?

Chakabva: Ah, well like I said before, his position is a nullity it comes from someone who I cant consider now, so the point that Clever Bere wanted power for so long it is just an assumption that he himself cannot even prove it. Not even he that he speaks on behalf of, they cannot even prove it. What I can prove to you as a fact is that Clever Bere did leave power on the 28th to the 30th of January in the year of our Lord 2010, that is enough ground to say that the man wasnt what is being said about him.

In fact to refer back to the issue of money that he talks of, if it is so self-evident that these guys are so authentic why is it that they fear so much the issue of a forensic audit? Why is that? They must question that. They must prove to the world that they stand on behalf of real principals. Remember what Comrade Lenin said about these worshippers of money that when you go through such periods of invasion by these worshippers of money you come out stronger and more resolute and that is exactly what we are. We are not even moved by what he said. These are just opinions by those people that we represent. Wisdom is just a student at the University of Zimbabwe. I speak on his behalf as a student leader.

Guma: Wisdom this is interesting, did you or your faction reject the audit?

Mgagara: Ah actually what I can simply say is that all what he is saying are dubious charges. I think this young man is actually talking from an un-informed prospective point of view because what I know is he was not even part of the talks, one, and two I think what he is saying does not even tally with what happened on the issue of the talks. On the issue of the talks the agenda was not even about the secretariat. Im sure that he should go back and know the history for ZINASU to have the secretariat.

It was in 2005, 2006 that the then Executive could not produce an audit report and therefore there was need for the secretariat so that it could account for those resources. The issue of an audit is out of the question. That was not an issue which is making the students to be divided. Its very unfortunate that these guys are actually pursuing an agenda of a certain individual and they dont even know where the problems emanated from and I mean if you are a blind person and you are being led by someone who can see, he can even drop you in a pit of mess.

So they are heading to mess, we are the legitimate student leaders, recognized by everyone in civil society, recognized by everyone, even the students. Go to the University of Zimbabwe, ask them who is the President theyll tell you Joshua Chinyere, go to MSU (Midlands State University), go to Belvedere in Harare, so I dont even know what hes saying, I mean hes a student and Im sure that hes a student at Harare Poly but not a student leader. We can have even a survey that could go even to Madziva and ask them who is the President of ZINASU and theyll tell you Joshua Chinyere, so I dont even know what these guys are talking about?

Guma: One argument that was put Wisdom, against the Secretariat was that certain individuals were becoming permanent fixtures in the Union and there was this feeling that people should come and go and I do remember an email which was sent soon after the talks collapsed that stated that the Secretariat was a problem, certain individuals did not want to be removed. Would you agree it still remains a problem or should it have been a problem?

Mgagara: I dont think the issue of the Secretariat is a problem. As the leadership of ZINASU we are working well with the Secretariat and Im sure that these guys were trying to hide behind their fingers by citing the issue of the Secretariat but it is something which is completely out of the story.

Guma: Well on that note we have to conclude the first part of this discussion between the two rival spokespersons of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). Thats Kudakwashe Chakabva and Wisdom Mgagara representing both their factions. Join me next week as we conclude this debate on just what is the problem in ZINASU.

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