Strong opposition politics in Zimbabwe begun in 1999 when dissent escalated against the Zanu PF government then led by former President Robert Mugabe. This culminated in the formation of a formidable opposition political party MDC, then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai. Vibrant membership of the party was drawn from the labour movement — the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and its affiliate unions — university students’ unions, and defectors from the ruling party.
The MDC, since its formation, presented a serious electoral challenge to the ruling party, sharing with it quite significant seats in Parliament and in 2008 almost wrested power from Mugabe had it not been for the split that saw a grouping of the party led by late Gibson Sibanda and Welshman Ncube pulling out to form their own MDC. Since then, winning an election, particularly the Presidency, for the opposition parties became a pipedream and up to date, the main opposition party, MDC-T, has experienced several splits.
However, some members, who have seen the need for reuniting in the MDC Alliance, have joined hands to challenge Zanu PF and Edwin Ndlovu (EN), the deputy spokesperson of the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has laments that several splits that have occurred in the main opposition party have continued to delay people’s victory. Southern Eye Reporter Silas Nkala (NS) caught up with him and below are excerpts of the interview.
SN: Who are you, who is Edwin Ndlovu?
EN: Edwin Ndlovu is a social democrat born at Matobo District Hospital, a family man, a religious man and a businessman, who is resident in Bulawayo.
SN: You were a member of the MDC at its formation, you left with then secretary-general Welshman Ncube to form another MDC, and you are now with the People’s Democratic Party. What prompted all these movements?
EN: I joined the MDC in 1999 when I was residing in Burnside ward 4, Bulawayo. When the struggle takes longer than expected to be won, there tends to be fatigue and comrades start seeing the wrong being done by fellow comrades and, at the end of the day, lose focus and fight one another, which is regrettable.
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The split of MDC in 2005 is regrettable. When I was doing conflict resolution at college, I was taught that in a conflict, no one would be 100% wrong or 100% correct.
There would be an element of both on either side. Actually, the split delayed the people’s victory.
In 2008 and 2013, the people of Zimbabwe categorically told us as MDC formations that they want unity and the party should be one. It is pleasing to note that before passing on, MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai smoked a peace pipe with his colleagues Prof Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti. Tsvangirai even appointed our presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa in the presence of Prof Ncube. We, working together, shall deliver people’s victory come July this year.
SN: What is your position in the PDP?
EN: I am currently deputy national spokesperson.
SN: People in political circles are saying your jumping from one political party to the other is influenced by hunger for positions, what can you say about that?
EN: Leadership is not about positions, but about consolidating democracy. As a leader, one can play his or her own role to bring about change even without having a top position. Positions do not bring change, but hard work does, regardless of one’s position.
This is a lesson which we, as leaders in different spheres of life, should appreciate that positions do not change anything, but hard work and the privilege to be chosen by God does. My philosophy is hard work and the rest follows.
SN: Do you think Chamisa has the potential to beat Zanu PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa and other candidates?
EN: We are privileged as MDC Alliance to have a leader like Nelson Chamisa as our presidential candidate. He is a charismatic, eloquent and young leader who resonates well with the needs of the people Zimbabwe. For those who read the Bible, Chamisa is our biblical Joshua.
Zanu PF, in any name or form, cannot beat Chamisa and the Alliance in any free, fair and credible elections. We know that as usual, Zanu PF is creating some pseudo coalitions to try and divide the vote, but that won’t work as Zimbabweans are wiser. They are fully aware that anything that is not MDC Alliance is Zanu PF.
Therefore, Zanu PF in any form or colour shall be rejected by the people, whether it’s Lacoste, G40, Gamatox or New Patriotic Front, it remains Zanu PF and shall be rejected by the people.
SN: Which position do you hold in the Alliance?
EN: In the MDC Alliance, we work within the framework of political parties we belong to. I remain the deputy national spokesperson of PDP. I am the immediate past chairperson of the information committee in the Alliance.
SN: There are already over 100 political parties registered with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to participate in the polls, will this not affect the support base of the Alliance during polls?
EN: The mushrooming of these political parties just before the elections does not concern us in the MDC Alliance. As alluded to earlier on, most of these parties are surrogates of Zanu PF and, actually, will take few votes from its funder.
SN: How far has the Alliance prepared for the polls in terms of candidates selection for the House of Assembly, council and Senate?
EN: Candidate selection would be done in due course when the relevant national councils has approved the seat allocation framework. But as Alliance partners, we have candidates ready on the sidelines.
SN: Will the Alliance field candidates across the country?
EN: The Alliance has more candidates than the constituencies. Remember, PDP started candidates’ selection in early 2017 before we signed the Alliance document. PDP was ready then to field candidates in all contested constituencies.
It’s the same with MDC-T and MDC. Other candidates will be asked to step down in constituencies allocated to other partners. This answers the question as to whether the Alliance shall field candidates in all constituencies and wards. We have surplus.
SN: Are you aspiring to contest in the election?
EN: At this point in time, it is not about individuals who want to contest, but about the party deploying its cadres. Remember, we have seven parties in the Alliance and each party shall decide who to deploy. We are looking at different issues, but the biggest one being what this candidate can do for the party and the community.
Therefore, if the party decides to deploy me, I would prefer City Hall. I am a firm believer of devolution of power. Therefore, as a councillor, I would be of good use to the Bulawayo community.
But it all depends on what my party wants and what was allocated to our party as well. We must not approach these issues with selfish minds.
It must be a matter of what one provides in terms of leadership and service delivery to the people of Zimbabwe.
The Alliance has made it very clear to everyone that these elections are not about jobs for the boys, but rescuing the country from total collapse.
SN: Have you ever contested an election before?
EN: In 2013, I contested to be a councillor and lost because as MDC formations we did not come together as advocated by the people. They told me to my face that they want a united people’s project.
SN: What do you think about the electoral playing field ahead of this year’s polls? Is it level?
EN: Nothing has changed. We used to see former President Robert Mugabe, his wife, Grace, and their cronies on national television and now we see ED [Mnangagwa] with his scarf and his cronies as well. We want Zec demilitarised. We want to be part and parcel of election planning, like having the knowledge as to who prints the ballot papers and the quantity including serial numbers.
We must be represented where they are kept. The international community, including the United Nations, must be allowed to do both monitoring and observing the elections.
SN: What advice do you have for government in relation to the polls?
EN: The ED government must provide free, fair and credible elections to the people of Zimbabwe. This time around, as Zimbabweans, we are ready to defend our votes against thieves.
SN: What are your parting words to the MDC Alliance supporters, electorate and the international community in reference to the elections?
EN: To the people of Zimbabwe, this is the opportune time to deliver biblical Canaan to our people. We have our Joshua in the form of Chamisa. But what is important first is to register to vote.
Zanu PF has failed and forced destitution onto us. It is time now to show them the red card. After voting, we must also defend our votes. We cannot expect Zanu PF to be generous to us, we have to act. We also call upon the international community to observe and monitor this watershed election so that the will of the people prevails. We urge people of Bulawayo to come in thousands to White City on Saturday [tomorrow] for a mother of all rallies and hear what the Alliance promises.