Welshman Ncube, President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-N), Zimbabwe HARDtalk


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Welshman Ncube, President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-N), Zimbabwe

Zeinab Badawi talks to Welshman Ncube, who leads his own faction of the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic Change. Can opposition parties defeat President Mugabe?


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Zimbabwe is gripped by a severe drought which has left a third

:00:00.:00:19.

of its 15 million people dependent on food aid.

:00:20.:00:22.

The state is running out of dollars, workers go unpaid and unemployment

:00:23.:00:25.

is very high - a dire situation that presents the opposition

:00:26.:00:28.

in the country with an opportunity in nationwide elections in 2018.

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My guest today is Welshman Ncube, who leads his own

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faction of the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement

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for Democratic Change, known as MDC-N.

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The main opposition parties have now formed an alliance,

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but can they put aside their differences and focus

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on defeating President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF?

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Welshman Ncube, welcomed to HARDtalk. -- welcome. Your new

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opposition alliance is moving too slowly. There are other opposition

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forces that are filling the vacuum? Firstly, it is not moving as fast as

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we would want to move. The important thing is that it has been confirmed

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across the political spectrum that it is absolutely necessary that we

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should come together, that we should create a single corner, which is

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claimed to sign in the regime change next year. I am happy and confident,

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that at the end of all these processors, we will have an

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effective and inclusive coalition of all opposition parties who are

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interested in challenging the regime together. Let me tell you what I

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mean. The younger generation, particularly, are very much taking

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up the charge at a grassroots level. Social media is becoming critical.

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That is where the opposition lies. We have seen demonstrations becoming

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much more common, and they are seizing the initiative from you. It

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is correct that the young people are impassioned, it is correct that they

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are using more modern ways of communicating. Things like Facebook

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and Twitter, they are all talking to each other and talking to us. I

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think that is something to be commended rather than complained of

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by the mainstream opposition. What is necessary is how we can put

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together linkages with the young people who are active on the ground,

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to ensure that we harness that energy and that anger towards the

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elections in 2018, so that the young people can actually vote and express

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themselves through the only thing which will deliver change, which is

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speaking out. Is more than just the means that young people are using.

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It is actually the personalities who have emerged on the scene as better

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leaders than you, perhaps. There is a young pastor who started a social

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media campaign against President Mugabe. He is calling on Zimbabweans

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to be the agent that change the government, he says their generation

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must realise that we cannot subcontract our struggle through the

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previous one, and we cannot mortgage it to their selfish desires. He is

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critical of your generation for failing to deliver. That is very

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understandable. We encourage new leaders, we encourage young people

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to be part of this strategy. What is important at the end of the day is

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that, when we get to the elections, we come together, young and old. So

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that we can fight from the same corner. I do not think that we

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should be concerned that the young people are doing what they are

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doing. I do not think we should complain that they have raised

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issues that we have not succeeded with in the past. Such as relieving

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our country from Mugabe's dictatorship. I don't think those

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things should unduly concern us. What should be of concern is how we

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can harness those energies, how we can work together, how we can agree

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on a common ground to get to the next election. It is very good that

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young people are doing what they are doing. Work together to the extent

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that you may have a young person standing in the presidential

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elections in 2018? The past we spoke has said he is toying with the idea.

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It is possible that he and others are toying with the idea. What I

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have said is important is that we must remain engaged with them as

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political players. We must talk to each other. We need a civil society

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in its various manifestations to work with us. We can collectively

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agree on and so that we give ourselves a realistic chance of

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defeating Mugabe. You are saying it's a possibility the charismatic,

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Young 39-year-old could be an opposition candidate in the

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elections? That is a distinct possibility? I am saying that we

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should talk to each other as political partners in civil society,

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and I am saying that the ruler of the opposition is yet to be

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determined, and I hope when that person is determined, they will be

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realistic enough to understand the capacity and be ways to defeat

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Mugabe. Not in an idealistic way. That does not sound like a ringing

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endorsement. The point I am trying to make is that you say yes, it does

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extend their hands to the young generation. More than 75% of

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Zimbabwe's population is under 35. However, voters of that age group

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are only 5%. That is because they are disillusioned and are looking

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for alternatives. The leader of the African Democratic Party says, I

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don't see the situation changing because these people lack integrity.

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She says, we cannot have the same current players that we have, so why

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not just move off the stage? The example that you are giving of

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muscling, of the African Democratic Party, they just signed up to join

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the coalition of Democrats, which is in the efforts of talking to

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everybody to ensure that we build that all-inclusive coalition to

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fight the next election -- Marcelline. What is critical at the

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end of the day is that we come together, that by agreement and

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consensus we agree on the person who should be the opposition leader in

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the forthcoming election. I do not think it should be about putting

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anybody off the stage, I do not think it should be the young people

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being impassioned, it should be a recognition that we are in special

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circumstances, we are in a national crisis which requires collective

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unity. We need the young people, we need the old people, but more

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importantly about the young people, in the previous elections, we have

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had a situation where a great number of young people are not registered

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to vote. Our challenge for next year is to ensure that this time around,

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the young people get to be registered, get to buy into the

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political struggles, and crucially, on election day, they get to vote

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for the candidate and coalition. Do it is opposition alliance that you

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formed a couple of months ago. It is your faction of the MDC-N and the

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veteran opposition leader, whose party is known as MDC-T. There is

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also another veteran who is now heading her national people's party.

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You have all come together. In April, you said that the

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understanding between you was that building blocks towards beginning to

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build an opposition. You are still using words like beginning,

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building. You should have started years ago. It is a bit late. I agree

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that we should have been where we are today, maybe one year or two

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years ago. It is better late than never. We should recognise that time

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is of the essence, there is less than a year to the actual

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proclamation of an election. We deserve the criticism that we have

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not a word with the speed and urgency that is required. But we are

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acting and we are moving forward. We are talking to each other. We are

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talking to each other on a daily basis. We have a view to complete

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this as early as possible. I accept no contest at all that that is late

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in the day, but better late than never. You said in April that you

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would apologise to Zimbabweans for the splitting, you also said that he

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would vary the hatchet. What exactly what -- was that apology for? What

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are the differences between you two? Because of the MDC-N, and the

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Movement for Democratic Change split in 2005. That is well known. We

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disagreed on a number of things. What we are apologising for in that

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time, we needed to spend more time talking to each other. We needed to

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spend more time finding ways of remaining together and resolving

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those differences, rather than walking away from each other in

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seeking to pursue the problem from different corners. That has resulted

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in where we are today. That struggle did not succeed because we

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dissipated our energies and fought from different corners. We

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acknowledge that to remain united, and if we had remained united, we

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probably would have defeated Mugabe a long time ago. Thank you for

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clarifying that. The deputy to more than Tanqueray, the best-known of

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the opposition candidates who stood in the past against Mugabe, he says

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that his boss is a natural leader of the grand coalition. However, he did

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reveal that he has cancer. Is more than perhaps to seek to leave the

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ground coalition? -- lead. I am not a medical person to be able to speak

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about President Changarri's health. I have met him a number of times

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over the past few months, we have had very extensive discussions. I

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have not gotten the impression that he is in any medical state which

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will hinder our progress. If it is an inclusive protest and coalition,

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I believe it will succeed. From interactions with him, I do not

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share the medical concerns that some might express. But I am not a

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medical doctor. What is important is that we must keep in mind that, up

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until now, President Changarri is the only person who has previously

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defeated Mugabe in an election. We must recognise that from previous

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elections, he has secured the highest number of votes and it is

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important, whatever coalition we build, to ensure that those who have

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supported him all along our able to continue to support the collective

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position that we will agree on. You are referring to the contested

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result in 2008? It is worth reminding you that in 2013, Mugabe

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won 61% of the vote. Changarri won 34% of the vote, and your faction

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won just 3%. One professor said, despite the unreliability of the

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electoral what -- watchdogs in Zimbabwe, he believed that Mugabe

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won the election. You talked about a collective view as to who should be

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the presidential candidate for the united opposition. Who is it? You

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said it could be Changarri, the representative from the national

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people's party said, I am going to make a bid for it as well. There is

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you, presumably. Who will it be? We don't know who it will be. We

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need to agree on who it will be. What we are underlining is the

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importance of using objective criteria in coming to the

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determination of who that candidate should be and one important tool is

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that when we agree on that particular candidate, we must all do

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so unconditionally in the rally behind that candidate if we are to

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have a fighting chance in dislodging Robert Mugabe from power. You just

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summarised the 2013 result and that is what we have to reverse. Who is

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going to be the presidential candidate? One Zimbabwean analyst

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says, all the claptrap about the coalition, borders around who should

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lead and not what the coalition should deliver and that is the

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point. You are all jockeying for position, wanting to be the top

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person. On the contrary, the conversations which are taking place

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right now about the details of the coalition structure, details of

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policy positions which the coalition should push on to pursue should it

:16:14.:16:21.

win the election, they are about discussing what sort of things we

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will do to implement the unimplemented elections at the local

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government and parliamentary level and so forth and... But who will

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stand against President Mugabe? The election is next year, surely we

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should know. Is it you, or is it Joice Mujuru, is a Morgan

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Tsvangirai, or is it another person? I don't know it will be. I have an

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opinion on who it should be. Can you tell us? Discussions are ongoing. It

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will be inappropriate for me and in bad faith while we are talking to

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others to come on HARDtalk and express that personal opinion. Could

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it be you? They might find comfort in declaring themselves... Could it

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be you? It could be anybody we agree on. If it's you, can I put to you a

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quote which I'm sure you must be familiar with by now. In 2012,

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according to Wikileaks, Christopher Dell, then the outgoing Ambassador

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to Zimbabwe, said that Welshman Ncube has proved to be a divisive

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and destructive player in the opposition ranks and the sooner he

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is pushed off the stage, the better. Yes, he did say that, and what is

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the question? Perhaps you might be too divisive figure to be a

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potential candidate, to stand against Robert Mugabe next year?

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Zeinab, if that was true, it will follow the day on the day we agree

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on the candidate, it will not be a person with a collective leadership

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regards as divisive. I do not accept that assessment but this is not

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about me, it is about us coming with a candidate that has the potential

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and the capacity to rally the people, to motivate the people to

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defeat the Mugabe regime. I would rather we not personalise it and I

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would rather we do not pre-empt the conversations that are taking place.

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All I know is that we, in selecting a candidate to lead that coalition,

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we must choose a person, one who will be able to unify all of us and

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two, a person who has sufficient support at the grassroots level to

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rally as many voters to our side as possible, a person that we will be

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able to work with post- victory to deliver change. You said you are

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working on a strategy and frankly the problems persisting Zimbabwe are

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huge. Two thirds of people in poverty, a quarter currently need

:19:20.:19:22.

food aid. We know that a national debt is approaching three time --3

:19:23.:19:29.

times GDP, Budget deficit out of control, civil servants cannot draw

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their salaries from banks. The state of affairs cannot go on and you have

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people, seasoned observers like our politics lecturer at the University

:19:41.:19:48.

of Zimbabwe, who says politics will fail because they don't have a

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strategy to tackle all these issues. What we have, as an opposition, we

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are criticised a great deal by academics, by intellectuals, by

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social commentators, at cetera and I say too much of that criticism, it

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is merited but what is important is to recognise that we realise the

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challenges that we face are immense. The National crisis is deep. The

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country will only sink deeper into this quagmire of we do not deliver

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change in 2018. We are talking to each other. We are going to develop

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a strategy, that we are going to do everything that we can to ensure

:20:39.:20:44.

that we motivate people. We reach out to young people, to come out and

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vote in 2018. All of those things are the critical ingredients which,

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in my view, will deliver victory in 2018. An analyst in Zimbabwe, says

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that even without Mugabe, ZANU PF, in its shambolic state, will remain

:21:09.:21:12.

in power or they will be a government of national unity in 2018

:21:13.:21:23.

and that seems to be supported by a Afrobarometer survey that says ZANU

:21:24.:21:31.

PF still hasn't -- has an edge if it were held tomorrow. I have no doubt

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about that but I do not agree that ZANU PF is invincible and it can't

:21:38.:21:43.

be defeated. What is important is that we must recognise the things we

:21:44.:21:51.

have been able to do to steal elections. Against all of those vote

:21:52.:21:58.

rigging strategies employed in the past. If we have a modicum of a

:21:59.:22:06.

fairly violent - free election, I believe that ZANU PF can be

:22:07.:22:11.

defeated. I interact with people on a daily basis. I know that all the

:22:12.:22:16.

people want is to be given a fighting chance by a united

:22:17.:22:20.

opposition in the promise that they are going to come out in the numbers

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and liberate themselves are literally from the crisis that we

:22:27.:22:32.

have. Finally, one of the groups involved in the opposition forces,

:22:33.:22:37.

particularly amongst the younger -- younger generation. , has been

:22:38.:22:44.

calling for non-violent resistance against the government. You said you

:22:45.:22:49.

wanted to walk -- work with all opposition forces. Is that the

:22:50.:22:52.

strategy you would support to increase the mass protests, the

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demonstration, staying away from work? We say it as MDC and as the

:22:57.:23:04.

various coalition parties, whether under the coalition and Democrats,

:23:05.:23:12.

we have said so even in the bilateral conversations we have with

:23:13.:23:27.

the NPP, in our conversations with the MDCT, it is important for every

:23:28.:23:31.

Zimbabwean, for every social movement, so we can wake -- work

:23:32.:23:37.

collectively and press all the pressure points that will help us

:23:38.:23:43.

develop the Mugabe regime next year. Welshman Ncube in Johannesburg,

:23:44.:23:53.

thank you very much indeed for coming on HARDtalk.

:23:54.:23:58.

Zeinab Badawi speaks to Welshman Ncube, who leads his own faction of the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, known as MDC-N. The main opposition parties have now formed an alliance, but can they put aside their differences and focus on defeating President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF?

Zimbabwe is gripped by a severe drought which has left a third of its 15 million people dependent on food aid. The state is running out of dollars, workers go unpaid and unemployment is very high - a dire situation that presents the opposition in the country with an opportunity in nationwide elections in 2018.