MDC-M spokesman Nhlanhla Dube Behind the Headlines

welsh_ncubeThis week Behind the Headlines SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to Nhlanhla Dube the newly appointed national spokesperson of the MDC led by Welshman Ncube (pictured) and gets his reaction to accusations they hired thugs to retrieve party vehicles from two senior officials who rebelled against the new leaders

Why did the party decide against changing the MDC name? When will Ncube take over from Mutambara as Deputy Prime Minister? Is it fair they are labelled a tribal or regional party?

Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another exciting edition of Behind the Headlines. This week my guest is the newly appointed national spokesperson for the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. His name is Nhlanhla Dube. Mr Dube thank you for joining us.

Nhlanhla Dube: Thank you very much for having me on your programme.

Guma: Now over the weekend there were accusations that your party, led by Professor Welshman Ncube, had hired party thugs to retrieve vehicles that belong to the party. Making this accusation of course is your former national chairman I believe, Mr Jobert Mudzumwe who, as weve been reporting these past weeks tried to lead, or led a rebellion of senior party executives. Lets start off with that story Mr Dube and get your reaction. Is it true that over 20 youths were hired to go take away this Mazda 323 from Mr Mudzumwe?

Dube: I think the correct thing to say is to remind listeners that Mr Jobert Mudzumwe having gone public a day before our National Congress which was on the 8th and 9th of January in Harare, he then stepped outside his drawn parameters of being a party representative. That party representative status had given him the right to use a party vehicle which he had in Masvingo.

At Congress, elections were done for national chairman for the party. Let me remind listeners also that Mr Jobert Mudzumwe had not been nominated, not by a single province, to stand for election at Congress, so he lost the right to be party chairman, both by the fact that he went away from the party, he walked away from the party caucus, but also because he couldnt stand at Congress because he wasnt nominated so he is no longer national chairman of the party.

And not being national chairman of the party meant that he lost the right to use the partys vehicle. So what happened is that the party sent a couple of drivers to go and retrieve the vehicle from him. Also the party sent drivers to go and retrieve a vehicle from Mashiri who was the chairman of Masvingo, also because Mashiri was no longer the chairman of Masvingo and he had lost the right to use that party vehicle.

The party does not hire thugs and it does not have thugs that is a huge departure, would be a huge departure from the principles of our party which espouse non-violence and constructive resolution to any disputes so

Guma: Yes but our listeners will be aware that there is a political dispute between several members of the national executive and that these gentlemen convened a press conference a few hours before the Congress at which they were laying out their disputes essentially and made it very clear that they were the legitimate MDC as far as they were concerned.

So the first question our listeners will ask is, bearing in mind there is this dispute, obviously this retrieving of the vehicles could not have been done peacefully?

Dube: No, no, no it is an imaginary dispute, there is no dispute. What happened was this and I think it is important for the listeners to hear this and understand this and we will always be available to explain this at any given time, that at the last national council which was the day before Congress, they presented, together with other provinces, a petition with a number of issues that they wanted debated.

Now during the course of that debate, youll appreciate that the agenda item which was going to deal with those petitions was clashing with their time to address the press conference that they had arranged so they then stormed out of the meeting before the petition was even attended to, before the petition or their concerns were addressed or debated.

So there are people that were creating a smoke screen through the presentation of the petition, all they really wanted was to create a sideshow which they called a press conference, which they called a potential split. After they did that, Professor Arthur Mutambara who was leading the party until Congress, took over the chairmanship of the national council meeting and the national council went ahead, so there is no dispute, absolutely none.

We know of no split, they can call themselves whatever they want to call themselves we are not sure what they are calling themselves if they form themselves into a party. We will obviously have no negativity about that because it is their right to form themselves into any party if they wanted to. Youll appreciate that people belong to political parties by choice and if they decide they no longer belong to that political party, it is fine.

But that property that you have as a member of the political party that went to Congress, re-elected people and re-positioned people will then collect its property and its a legal property owned by the party, not by an individual and that property must go back into the inventory of the party, which party owns those properties, not its leader, not its secretary general, not anyone else in their individual capacity except the party as a body politic.

Guma: OK, point taken but the question I think and this is the question that a lot of people have been asking, given these individuals were insisting on holding onto the cars, did they willingly hand over these vehicles to you?

Dube: Absolutely, absolutely, nobody, nobody was touched violently, nobody was touched physically. They were handed over peacefully and we took it as their understanding of the fact that those vehicles did not belong to them individually but belonged to the party and they handed them over and there were absolutely no incidents of violence.

If there was any we would encourage them to go to the police and report this and of course show evidence and so forth and so on but as far as we are concerned there was absolutely no violence. It was just a normal collection of a vehicle that doesnt belong to that particular person because of their new status in the party or outside of the party

Guma: Why is Mr Mudzumwe being quoted as saying 20 thugs destroyed property, attacked his family in the Runyararo West suburb? Why is he saying that?

Dube: Because from the start he is the man who created this phantom break-away group which announced a split a day before Congress. He is creating this bull in a china shop, he is creating attention to himself. He will obviously go on a smear campaign and say all sorts of things. We certainly cant get into his head and say this is why he is doing this. What we can give you is the fact as best as we are and say we absolutely have no record, we absolutely have got no report of any form of violence happening in the collection of those vehicles.

And as far as we are concerned as a party, if he was touched violently, if he was threatened and so forth and so on the system in Zimbabwe will take its course through the police, he can make a report there. There was absolutely as far as we are concerned, there is absolutely no need for anyone to be violent when you are collecting something that belongs to an institution not to an individual.

Guma: In handing over the reins to Professor Welshman Ncube, Professor Mutambara urged party members to deal with the concerns raised by Mudzumwe and the other members who led this rebellion. Are there any moves towards maybe honouring those remarks by Professor Mutambara? Is this something the party is looking into?

Dube: When you belong to a political party you subvert yourself to certain dictates. You subvert yourself to a certain behavioural types. There are lines of communication. But if you say you belong to a political party and you are constantly attacking it from outside and in the public space and so forth and so on and not engage in that particular political party within the structures that are created it is then impossible to fulfil the wishes of our outgoing president, Professor Arthur Guseni Mutambara.

It will be the best thing to do will be for them to approach the organs of the party that can start formulating a constructive resolution of this dispute, of their concerns. The party is open to speaking to any disgruntled member because it is their democratic right to raise issues but while it is a democratic right I dont think that working for the station that you are working for my brother, you would go the BBC and speak about your own web station, I think that would create a problem in any resolution.

The most important thing is to appreciate that when you have got a dispute, you are still within the confines of that political party and then you address your concerns within the guidelines of whatever party or board you belong to.

Guma: OK, moving on to the next issue we have seen vicious if not constant speculation on when Professor Ncube will take over from Arthur Mutambara as the deputy prime minister. We even saw Tsholotsho North member of parliament Professor Jonathan Moyo joining in the debate saying Professor Ncube should come out in the clear open and say when he is taking over. How is this matter going to be resolved because people are wondering? Professor Ncube is senior in the party and yet junior to Mutambara in the government. How is this matter being sorted out?

Dube: I for one, speaking on behalf of the party, dont understand why we are being stampeded to state what or how the party is going to deploy. I think that is generated by people that want us to follow one route or another, but look, the party has said straight after Congress, what is going to happen is that the national council is going to sit and will give a direction of how the party should deploy its new leadership into government and anywhere else in the party where need be.

And that is going to happen and no-one should halt that by criticising or commenting adversely well then be stampeded into satisfying some ego-driven decision making process. I think it is a decision that should be arrived at carefully and following constructive forms of debate within the party and we are currently doing that. And when that decision is made believe me the media will be the first to know because that is the instrument that we will use obviously to communicate to everybody what decision we have taken. That decision will be made in due time.

Guma: OK but do you not think also Professor Ncubes supporters, having taken joy in seeing him assume the position would naturally want him as deputy prime minister so it might not necessarily be negative attacks coming from people who just want to see the party destroyed but Ncubes supporters who would want to see him take over as deputy prime minister?

Dube: So far the only comments about his ascendancy or lack there of, of getting to be deputy PM has been coming from the negative corner of the participants in this discourse. His supporters understand that an orderly system has to be followed. We certainly arent going to wake up tomorrow and just decide knee-jerk how to do things.

I think a process has been put in place, a decision making pattern has been put in place that is going to be followed until that decision is arrived at and we would urge all his supporters to be patient and to appreciate the party is the one that deploys. Professor Ncube as the leader of the party is not the one that deploys himself.

He is naturally by being the president of the party, he becomes the principal, thats natural, however the party might decide not to deploy him to be deputy prime minister, might decide to deploy him to be deputy prime minister. He will also wait as patiently as everyone else within the party is waiting until the national council sits and makes that decision. It is a painful waiting process but it must be done because things must be done correctly.

Guma: And the issue of the MDC name? I know since the party split in 2005 there has been much discussion about this and when he took over, Professor Ncube at your Congress, spoke about this saying there had been a suggestion to change the name and then it was shot down. Various people have been commenting on various forums wanting to know exactly why the party does not choose to get another name and get rid of the confusion. Whats your position on this?

Dube: The leadership of the party sitting as the national council had come out with a raft of possible constitutional amendments. Youll remember that the constitution can only be amended by Congress, can only be amended by its members representing the various provinces that they come from.

Now when the issue of the name came up because the deputy national council and a few, one name was agreed on, it was agreed that there should be an attempt to change the party to possibly to read the Congress for a Movement for Democratic Change but when we got to Congress, the delegates who are the owners of the party refused to have the name changed in according to how what they felt we were the MDC, our compatriots are MDC-Tsvangirai and as far as we are concerned they are holding dear the name and they felt it was absolutely unnecessary for us to change the name.

The leadership had wanted to change it because of the general fatigue around explaining all the time that we are not MDC-M and now we see that we are being called MDC-N and we just wanted to do away with that so that people just stick to who we are so that so that we can work on programmes and so forth and so on

Guma: But that actually works against you because a lot of people are saying that represents a fear on your part to stand alone and you are holding on to the old MDC name. If you have new ideas, you have a new logo, you have a new motto, why not adopt a new party name and build your own brand?

Dube: Youll appreciate that you are talking to me as one of the leadership of the party, I speak on behalf of the party. Congress who are the owners of the party decide otherwise. They see it fit that we keep the name and unfortunately you cant bulldoze and dictate to the Congress and say look lets change the name so well just have to work with the name as it is.

We have re-branded to go green and black and white and that is what we are going to go with. Yes we understand that people out there will see it as a fear but someone we will turn around and say you know what, MDC led by Tsvangirai call themselves MDC-T so is it a fear factor also? Maybe can wait for their Congress in May, maybe they will also decide to change their name, we will wait and see what goes so the fear is certainly not on our part but fear might be on their part also.

But look, the way we carry on we always allow for the democratic process to take place; Congress must decide and whatever Congress decides the leadership implements so its not the leadership that decides. The leadership is only there as representatives of the party.

Guma: My final question for you Mr Dube the emergence of ZAPU led by Dumiso Dabengwa some analysts are saying basically you are going to have Dabengwa and Welshman Ncube fighting for the same political cake in terms of the Matabeleland vote and the prediction is that this can only benefit Tsvangirai. Whats your reading of this scenario?

Dube: Look those statements are largely made by very narrow minded people who think that a party led by a Ndebele speaking person is then only confined to Matabeleland. That is actually a very big insult to Zimbabweans because you are assuming that a party led by an Ndebele person or Tonga person or a Kalanga person or a Xhosa person or Venda or Sotho cannot be representative nationally and we are a national party whose interests are national.

A Ndebele problem to us is a Karanga problem, is a Manyika problem, is a Bocha problem, is a Korekore problem. Any part of Zimbabwe which has a problem it must be seen as a national problem and to us, the emergence of ZAPU is absolutely of no concern to our national thinking about how we should address national problems in Zimbabwe. We are certainly not a regional party, yes we will certainly debate and contest for position in any province and any region in the party.

Guma: But you cant argue, you cant run away from the fact that in the March 2008 election, most of your seats, if not all of them came from one particular region so its more of a historical fact; even ZAPU predominantly draws its support from the Matabeleland region so would you be running away from that fact?

Dube: No, no, no its not running away from the fact, its just stating how we are framed. I mean the result of 2008 stand, they are historical, they are then seen. Are you then saying to us that ZANU PF is a few region party because they are not dominant in Matabeleland? Now if we look at it that way then yah we will then say possibly that ZANU PF is limited in effect in Matabeleland and therefore they are not a national party, which you could even say the same for MDC-T which for me would be a very myopic argument.

I think that all parties that are national must focus on national problems, it doesnt really matter where the greatest number of your seats come from. It might be a case of strategy, it might be a case of where your candidates perform the best but it is not reflective of the way you are framed because you are framed nationally.

This country is one singular country within one border with one interest, for us at least as a party and we will project those interests at a national platform and consistently refuse to be regionalised and paddocked within the environment or the parameters of Matabeleland. We are not a regional party, we are a national party.

Guma: I know I had said final question but I just have to ask this why do people do that Mr Dube? Why do they frame your party in this particular manner saying either you are a regional party or a tribal party? Why do they do that?

Dube: Its an age-old behaviour. Its a, if you look at it, its a colonial legacy which people have failed to shake off. It is a divide and rule legacy which people have failed to shake off, which people fail to look straight in the eye and say eh we need to get rid of this, if we are national, we are national irrespective of who leads what, irrespective of who (inaudible)

Its a colonial legacy which we need to deal with, which we need to disabuse ourselves of, which we need to be free to debate in Zimbabwe and move on from. So we understand it in that context but we think that its something that certainly people need to be able to be brave enough to look in the face and say you know Zimbabwe doesnt deserve this, Zimbabwe deserves better.

Guma: Well thats Nhlanhla Dube the newly appointed national spokesperson for the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. Mr Dube, thank you so much for joining us on Behind the Headlines.

Dube: I thank you too. Have yourself a good day.

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SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwes Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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