HomeLocal NewsMisihairabwi-Mushonga savages male politicians

Misihairabwi-Mushonga savages male politicians


OUTSPOKEN politician and MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has criticised the idea of forming an opposition coalition, describing it as a narrative being fed onto Zimbabweans by a group of “a few male politicians at a hotel table”.

Veneranda Langa

This, while her party is reportedly in talks with other opposition formations over the same issue. Misihairabwi-Mushonga (PM), in this interview with NewsDay Weekender’s Veneranda Langa (ND), argues Zimbabweans must instead be allowed to decide who should be the face of their struggle to dislodge President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule. Below are excerpts;

ND: You are one of the most outspoken female politicians in Zimbabwe and in your opinion, do you view an opposition coalition as the way to go in order to ensure democratic change in Zimbabwe ahead of expected elections next year?

PM: First and foremost, I do not necessarily think that the coming together of all opposition political parties will provide the best way to democratically remove Zanu PF in 2018. One of the biggest problems with this proposed coalition is that it is a wrong narrative, which unfortunately also begins with a wrong answer because we have asked wrong questions.

ND: What do you mean by that?

PM: The first question to ask is: Why are we in this situation, where we are dominated by one person and one political party? If we answer this question correctly then we should be in a position to say why we are not addressing the root cause. We are not in this situation as Zimbabwe because there are many political parties in the country. We cannot say Zanu PF is in power because there are many political parties. We cannot continue with a 92-year-old ruling us and a system that controls everything.

It is the people that can remove Mugabe and those people do not necessarily belong to a political party. Even those people that voted for Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T president) during past elections are not members of the MDC-T, and so to continue to feed the narrative that a coalition of opposition parties will raise enough votes to dislodge Zanu PF is wrong because the majority of the voting public is not aligned to any political party.

ND: But you are considered one of the proponents of an opposition coalition. Why are you now opposed to it?

PM: No, I never pushed for a coalition of opposition parties. I pushed for an inclusive government, and that is a different thing. An opposition coalition is pre-election period and an inclusive government is a post-election arrangement. What is currently being discussed — and the media seems to have bought the idea too — is a pre-election coalition and the debate around it is problematic because you cannot tell me that bringing together a group of opposition parties will remove Zanu PF. It is not factually true because political membership of parties does not translate into huge numbers.

Here is where I am saying my narrative is different from everybody else’s. I believe we should push for the most popular candidate, who is not necessarily a political figure. It is the people, who must decide who should lead them and not a bunch of 10 to 15 men sitting at a table and forming a coalition. We should open up so that whoever feels they can lead Zimbabwe presents themselves to the people and then they decide. The narrative of a coalition is a male narrative, which assumes they know what the people of Zimbabwe want in terms of who must represent us. The issue is that we have to agree as the people of Zimbabwe on, who is to get rid of Mugabe and it should be a popular sentiment. It means we can also have independent candidates who have not necessarily been part of the current political set-up gunning for the Presidency and it must be someone popularly supported by all Zimbabweans. The majority of people that vote do not belong to political parties. In America they did it and that is how Donald Trump won the presidential elections because people were tired of politicians as leaders. We need to change the narrative.

ND: Is it possible to do that without opposition parties coalescing?

PM: Yes, we need to come together as Zimbabweans considering what happened with the #ThisFlag campaign by Pastor Evan Mawarire. Zimbabweans were not forced to gather and demonstrate at the Magistrates’ Courts. It is the situation in the country that forced them to do so. I am sad because even civic society is complicit. I would have expected a huge debate from them around this issue. Civic society talks of including people in governance issues, and they should be telling opposition political parties that whoever leads should come from the people. Civic society should be saying we are coming together with an agreed framework and will show Zanu PF what free and fair elections mean. We have seen it happening in other countries and this is an opportune time to remove Zanu PF by mobilising a popular sentiment in the people. We cannot give this right to a group of 10 to 15 men. On what basis do they have the right to decide for the people and say we need a coalition?

ND: So, how do the people then come up with a popular candidate to represent them, including those who are not politicians?

PM: It is very easy. Civic society organisations must look for resources for a parallel election, or a pre-run to elections where that popular candidate is chosen. They can group up, as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and do elections at constituencies. Those interested in leading can submit their names for nomination. It may sound ridiculous, but the entrance of Trump was on that basis because people were sick of the establishment and politicians. So our way out may even be getting someone who is not even a practicing politician.

Civic society can use the 210 constituencies to do this pre-run election, and this method can even be used for Parliament so that capable people submit their names for elections and we avoid having people sitting for five years without uttering a word in Parliament. I am not against males, but even in the media, it is their voices that have been articulated and they are the ones talking about a coalition of opposition parties. It is Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni (Mavambo Kusile Dawn), Tendai Biti (People’s Democratic Party), and Welshman Ncube (MDC), and sometimes Joice Mujuru (Zimbabwe People First) who are given a chance to speak.

Women’s voices must also be heard on this issue because it is everybody including those that do not belong to political parties that are needed to deal with Mugabe in 2018. Every candidate should be subjected to a popular vote.

ND: Do you then consider yourself a suitable candidate?

PM: I certainly do not think 2018 is a year for me to run for the Presidency. I have no resources — I do not even own a tuckshop. I will not be presenting myself in 2018 to contest for the Presidency, but later I will certainly be interested in running. That is why I admire Hillary Clinton. She lost the elections, but she planned to run for several years. You do not just wake up saying you want to be a President. You plan.

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