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Jobert Mudzumwe Behind the Headlines

Rebel members of the national executive: From left to right; Hilda Sibanda (Women’s Assembly Chairperson), award winning writer Tsitsi Dangarembwa (Secretary for Education), Party Chairman Jobert Mudzumwe and Morgan Changamire (Deputy Organising Secretary).

SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to Jobert Mudzumwe, the National Chairman of the MDC faction, when it was still under Arthur Mutambara. Last month, along with other senior party members, he filed a High Court application challenging the ascendancy of Welshman Ncube as President. He explains why they fell out with Ncube and also comments on Mutambara’s statement this month in which he vowed not to resign as Deputy Prime Minister.

Interview broadcast 07 February 2011

Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe and thank you for joining us on the programme Behind the Headlines. This week my guest is the national chairman of the MDC formerly led by Professor Arthur Mutambara. His name is Mr Jobert Mudzumwe. Va Mudzumwe thank you for joining us on the programme.

Jobert Mudzumwe: Thank you very much my brother.

Guma: Interesting developments within your political party. The reason why we are calling you of course – deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara has issued a statement saying he will not be resigning. Let me start off by setting the stage here – you as national chairman filed a High Court application challenging the ascendancy of Professor Welshman Ncube to the party leadership – let’s start there. Why did you make that application?

Mudzumwe: Thank you very much my brother. First and foremost I was so naïve to think that Welsh was so national other than regional. This I’m saying this because on the split of 2005, definitely I went along with Welsh what he was saying and one, the late Gibson Sibanda who is my icon and I respect that gentleman, the late Gibson Sibanda because he was a national leader not a regional leader but unfortunately with Welsh definitely I have no respect for him.

Why? Because I was so naïve to think that Welsh was so national but now it has now come out openly that he is a filthy, ambitious and tribal person and to be very clear on this, on the run up to the Congress all the issues which we had raised that they should be done before we go to the Congress were never done. And the issue here is, he was the treasurer general, why am I saying this?

Fletcher Dulini-Ncube did nothing – he was actually a window dresser when it comes to financial issues of the party. There are no, as I am saying now, as I am talking now, there are no financial audited statements for the party from 2006 up to the present day, that’s point number one.

Point number two – Welsh started to unscrupulously pay his provincial chairpersons so that they would support him for the cause to remove Arthur Mutambara and I would like to applaud the deputy prime minister, honourable deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara. He did not play into hands of Welshman Ncube. He was so strategic, very clever and he proved to be a mature politician who knows what is good for this country.

But unfortunately Welsh because he was so obsessed with the intentions of getting into power and thinking that I’ll be the principal and the deputy prime minister. Unfortunately I had to make this application because all that happened was an issue of a person who is aggrieved, a regional person who is not national in mind, who was not national in his bid, who is not national in everything.

Guma: Now Mr Mudzumwe I spoke to Nhlanhla Dube who is now the national spokesperson for the MDC led by Ncube and I asked him precisely what you are raising now and he said it is you and your colleagues who walked out of a national council meeting before having your complaints addressed, so he’s blaming you for walking out and saying your walk out did not stop the meeting, the meeting went ahead but if you had remained in the meeting your concerns would have been addressed.

Mudzumwe: My dear brother it is very unfortunate that these are invitees who are from ZAPU which is led by Dabengwa who were invited by Welshman Ncube, he doesn’t know anything about MDC. It’s very unfortunate and I will say it, I will repeat it, it is very unfortunate – Nhlanhla Dube has no right and capacity to comment on MDC issues. He doesn’t know where he’s coming from, he doesn’t know when it was formed, he doesn’t even know the founding principals and values of the MDC.

It is very unfortunate. These are the same invitees who have actually been brought in by Welshman Ncube to seal in the cause of the aggrieved Ndebele people. We are a national party, we are not a regional party but these people, they have actually proved that they are so regional because they have their grievances which are very much tribal and we will not entertain that.

Guma: So are you basically confirming there’s a tribal split in the party because just looking at the people who broke, or who are rebelling, yourself, Jobert Mudzumwe, the likes of Tsitsi Dangarembwa, Morgan Changamire and you look on the other side most of the individuals backing Welshman Ncube are from Bulawayo. Is this effectively a tribal split in the party?

Mudzumwe: You know what my brother, thank you very much, it is you who has said it but this is exactly what is on the ground but this was caused by Welshman Ncube and let me apologize to the nation but I was so naïve to think that Welshman Ncube was national other than regional but now I have discovered that Welshman is so regional to an extent that he actually pledges issues like tribal issues which are very much trivial.

It’s very unfortunate and I would like to apologize to the nation when the split of 2005 when I went along with a person who I perceived as my icon the late Gibson Sibanda, its unfortunate if he was still alive this could not have happened. But now I have seen the machinations and the ambitions, silly ambitions of Welshman Ncube that he only wanted to get the throne of the deputy prime minister.

Guma: Now initially when you held that press conference, I think it was a few days before the Congress that elected Professor Welshman Ncube, Professor Arthur Mutambara seemed reluctant to come out in support. I know at the Congress he did talk about having your concerns addressed but a lot of people felt he wasn’t really supporting your rebellion.

Are you happy now he seems to be backing you fully and in this statement he is stressing and putting a lot of validity in your High Court application, saying he will not quit as deputy prime minister until the High Court determines that matter?

Mudzumwe: Frankly let me tell you my brother when we put this application or when we put this application it was not an issue fighting for Mutambara. We were fighting for the violation of founding principles and values of our party MDC. It is not for Mutambara, let me be very clear on this. It is not for Mutambara and we were not even anticipating or thinking that Mutambara would support us. Mutambara is an individual, he is a clever and intelligent professor who knows what is good for this country and I am so happy that he has seen light as of now.

Guma: There is a question that was raised of course in the statement by Professor Arthur Mutambara – he’s basically saying the idea was to elect a new leadership which would concentrate on building the party and prepare for the next elections and not change leadership in order to bicker over current offices of state. Now as an insider, is this the general feeling that Professor Welshman Ncube had agreed to step down but that the agreement was that he would remain as deputy prime minister and that this promise seems to have been broken?

Mudzumwe: Unfortunately on that issue I cannot comment on behalf of honourable deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, definitely I cannot do that but what I can only comment is the position he has taken today, he has shown us Arthur Mutambara is a national leader. Arthur Mutambara is a leader who has a vision for this country. Arthur Mutambara is a person who has seen light now to say okay I cannot dwell and dine with people who have trivial issues, people who are regional, people who don’t think of the nation, who only think of themselves.

Guma: Now we understand that you wrote a letter, you and your colleagues wrote a letter to Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai asking them not to recognise Welshman Ncube as deputy prime minister?

Mudzumwe: Thank you very much, on a point of correction, we did not write this letter to his Excellency president Robert Mugabe, we did not write this letter to the Right Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. We wrote to Welshman Ncube to stop impersonating as the principal of MDC and we actually carbon copied these letters to his Excellency the president of this country president Mugabe and the Right Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Guma: OK so where does this leave the party? I know that this is a question that you have been asked at press conferences; are you saying there are now two factions of the MDC which is currently led by Welshman Ncube. What’s the position?

Mudzumwe: It’s very unfortunate that I cannot comment on issues that are before the Courts because it is subjudice, very much subjudice but to be frank enough we don’t recognize Welshman Ncube as the head of our political party and as of now, personally I still view and understand Welshman Ncube as the Secretary General of the party. It’s unfortunate I don’t know how he takes it or if he takes it as it is but my position is that Welshman Ncube is still the Secretary General of our party.

Guma: Of course after the Congress and after Welshman Ncube declared himself deputy prime minister we heard stories about some of your party members who had been nominated to take part in national programmes like COPAC and even in the statement by the deputy prime minister he was saying most of those people are being victimised and being recalled. Tell us about that, what’s been happening?

Mudzumwe: You see it is very unfortunate that when you get a person who propels himself unscrupulously to a position of authority and starts to victimise the people whom he perceives not to be supporting him. It’s very unfortunate. And to take this person as a national leader, as a person who purports to train the president of this country, it’s very unfortunate and a learned person for that matter is very unfortunate. I was actually rating Welshman Ncube as a professor of law but unfortunately as of now I’m just a mere para-legal and I can even contest as of now that I don’t think he qualifies to be in that position.

Guma: And so have these members who had been seconded to COPAC, have they been withdrawn or what’s the position with them?

Mudzumwe: You know legally these guys have a contract of employment and we get to our labour laws, they are very clear. They went there, not on political, party political grounds they went there on their volition. It’s very unfortunate but now Welshman has decided to victimise them.

Guma: Final question for you – so where does this leave the future of the party? Do you see Professor Mutambara being able to engage Professor Ncube? Do you see yourself being able to come together as a party and saying right let us now iron out all these problems and have one strong party?

Mudzumwe: Thank you very much my brother, I cannot comment on the area where you have mentioned the DPM, the honourable DPM Arthur Mutambara, I cannot comment, he is an individual who knows what he wants to do and who knows what is good for this nation but as for Welshman Ncube, the door is still open. Let him come back to us, let him phone me, let him engage me, let’s talk. It’s not good for Zimbabwe, it’s not good for our party. Let’s talk. We’ve worked all these years from 2006 until today. I’m prepared to come to the table and talk.

Guma: Just slotting in one more question – what happens if all else fails? Do you see yourselves and your colleagues joining the main wing of the MDC led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai?

Mudzumwe: Well it’s still very much premature because as of now our view is that we would like to work with all democratic forces. That is our view.

Guma: Well that is Mr Jobert Mudzumwe the national chairman of the MDC formerly led by Professor Arthur Mutambara but as you heard from that interview there a lot of these positions are being contested and the matter is before the Courts so we can only describe their positions as we are given them. Mr Mudzumwe thank you so much for joining us on Behind the Headlines.

Mudzumwe: Thank you very much.

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