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


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.


My guest today is 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?


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


opposition alliance is moving too slowly. There are other opposition


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


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


across the political spectrum that it is absolutely necessary that we


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


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


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


effective and inclusive coalition of all opposition parties who are


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


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


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


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


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


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


are using more modern ways of communicating. Things like Facebook


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


think that is something to be commended rather than complained of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


media campaign against President Mugabe. He is calling on Zimbabweans


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


must realise that we cannot subcontract our struggle through the


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


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


understandable. We encourage new leaders, we encourage young people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that you may have a young person standing in the presidential


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


realistic enough to understand the capacity and be ways to defeat


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


circumstances, we are in a national crisis which requires collective


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


understanding between you was that building blocks towards beginning to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


spend more time finding ways of remaining together and resolving


those differences, rather than walking away from each other in


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


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


dissipated our energies and fought from different corners. We


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


said it could be Changarri, the representative from the national


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


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


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


importance of using objective criteria in coming to the


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


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


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


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


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


going to be the presidential candidate? One Zimbabwean analyst


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


will do to implement the unimplemented elections at the local


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


according to Wikileaks, Christopher Dell, then the outgoing Ambassador


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


and destructive player in the opposition ranks and the sooner he


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


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


potential candidate, to stand against Robert Mugabe next year?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


working on a strategy and frankly the problems persisting Zimbabwe are


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


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


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


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


people, seasoned observers like our politics lecturer at the University


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


and liberate themselves are literally from the crisis that we


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


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


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


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


strategy you would support to increase the mass protests, the


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


various coalition parties, whether under the coalition and Democrats,


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


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


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


collectively and press all the pressure points that will help us


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


thank you very much indeed for coming on HARDtalk.


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.