Newly-elected MDC president Professor Welshman Ncube on Sunday attacked President Robert Mugabe saying “he does not have a God-given right to rule forever” while describing the mainstream MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as fraught with “pseudo-democrats and hypocrites”.
The party had hitherto been referred to as MDC-M under Arthur Mutambara’s leadership to distinguish it from the larger MDC-T formation.
In his acceptance speech, Ncube, who assumed the high pressure job on Saturday as MDC-M leader, taking over from the robotics professor Mutambara, said it was imperative for leaders to accept the need to pass on the baton.
“To those who refuse to hand over power to this generation, beware,” said Ncube.
“We are going out there to mobilise and ensure that the people of Zimbabwe will reject this kind of leadership in the next election. While acknowledging the role they played in the liberation struggle, they have neglected the people of Zimbabwe by staying in power for too long.”
President Mugabe, who has been in power for the last 30 years, has come under fire for ruling the country with an iron fist.
Upon his election, Ncube proposed to change the party’s name from MDC to the Congress for the Movement of Democratic Change (CMDC) but his idea hit a brick wall.
He, however, managed to have the party colours changed from red, black and white to green and white.
Directing his salvo at the MDC-T, Ncube, who is also Industry and Commerce minister, said: “To the pseudo-democrats and hypocrites, we refuse to be intimated by the herd mentality. We will remain faithful to the founding principles of the party.”
Nelson Chamisa dismissed Ncube’s attacks on his party saying the professor was neither a “priest nor a prophet of democracy”.
“That he is a champion in boardroom coups does not make him a democrat. Democracy failed him in Makokoba where he was gladly beaten by Madam Thokozani Khupe,” Chamisa said.
“He knows that his hands are not clean, his heart is not pure and his mind is clearly not uncontaminated. He is so happy with the new position. He is a victim of a new toy syndrome.”
Efforts to get comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo were fruitless.
Ncube who was throwing brickbats at the people he is expected to start working with as leader of his party in the inclusive government, said there were party leaders who were riding on the agenda of ethnicity to gain political leverage.
His party, he said, would shun political violence as a means to mobilise the masses and gain power.
Paying tribute to his predecessor, Ncube described Mutambara, whose fate now hangs in limbo, as a true democrat and a visionary who had steered the party well in the last five years.
“We salute you. I thank you for being a democrat by accepting that leadership is a relay and there comes a time you need to pass on the baton,” Ncube said.
“It does not happen often and peacefully in Africa that power is handed from one generation to the other. The crisis that Zimbabwe is going through has been created by the failure of leadership to pass on the baton. The precedent we have set is important even if we have suffered abuse.”
Ncube later addressed his first press conference as the new leader of the party and told journalists that Mutambara would continue to represent the party as Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive government.
He also said he would continue to persuade Mutambara to take up “a specific position in the party and tap from his many, many talents”.
Mutambara said before congress that he would step down and become an ordinary member of the party.
“We do not have the language of recalling in our party,” Ncube said. “Those deployed remain deployed until we feel there is need to have a reshuffle in the normal way. We are happy with the team as it is.”
Mutambara was invited to lead the smaller MDC in February 2006 following the split of MDC in 2005, with Ncube playing a critical role in his ascendancy to the party’s top post.
The former student leader, however, did not contest the 2008 presidential elections preferring instead to throw his weight behind Mavambo leader Simba Makoni.
As a partner in the inclusive government, Ncube said the MDC would ensure that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was adhered to.
He said his party would refuse to be dragged to elections before all the necessary reforms set out by the inclusive government were fulfilled.
The visibly charged-up Ncube said the inclusive government should restore political freedoms and media freedom and ensure the successful completion of the constitution-making process.
Ncube is on record calling for elections to be held in 2013 when they are constitutionally due because no meaningful electoral, media or security reforms have been impemented to date.
Incoming chairperson of the women’s league Thandiwe Mlilo said Tsvangirai used to make them “suffer” during the days of the united MDC and hence they turned to Mutambara for leadership.