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Demand reforms first, Sikhala tells Tsvangirai

By Guthrie Munyuki

HARARE – The inaugural MDC secretary for security, Job Sikhala, who now leads the smallest faction of the popular party, has a lot of fire in his belly. He might have been relegated to the lower echelons of politics but he still can pack a punch.

Outspoken and controversial politician Job Sikhala (second from right)
Outspoken and controversial politician Job Sikhala (second from right)

This week he reminded Zimbabweans of how it will be difficult to expect Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to dislodge the veteran Zanu PF leader, President Robert Mugabe in the absence of political and electoral reforms.

“We, as a party, are not concerned about participation in the elections per se because there are quite a number of fundamental issues that have to be solved first before we talk about elections.

Going to elections for the sake of going to elections does not help this country because we have witnessed it since 1980,” Sikhala told the Daily News in St Mary’s at his offices situated at the bustling Huruyadzo Shopping Centre.

“We are demanding that we have political reforms first, which was the major essence of having the inclusive government. And those reforms are not there,” said Sikhala, aptly christened Wiwa by fellow students during his time at the University of Zimbabwe when he joined student activism.

The MDC 99 leader said his colleagues — both MDC formations in the inclusive government — have allowed Mugabe to dictate which reforms needed to be undertaken, clearly entrenching his party’s position.

As such, observed Sikhala, the octogenarian leader has craftily put both Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube in an election mode, “paying little attention” to unresolved issues in the political pact which brought the inclusive government.

“So talking about elections is nonsensical. Anybody who dreams that he will govern this country and will win the elections under these conditions if elections are called this year, is a day dreamer.

And this I say confidently. Zanu PF will continuously manipulate the system to their advantage”.

Mugabe wants elections held this year with or without a new constitution, which is part of a raft of reforms ordered by Sadc and agreed to by the three parties in the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai insists on reforms before elections can be called but he is running out of steam as Sadc, as the guarantor of the GPA, fizzles out of the picture with each passing day. Sikhala warned Tsvangirai that it would be dangerous to agree to have elections without all reforms being met.

“Tsvangirai might have his own tricks under his sleeve. He might be seeing things differently. When a blind man says he will hit you, you might suspect there might be something under his sleeve.

“It’s up to him if he thinks that he will win. But let no any other blood be spilled again in this country when he knows he won’t be able to withstand the heat when trying times come. We know there are many people who lost their lives.

Luckily, he is blessed; he can run away from the country and go to safe havens while the people who are on the battleground will be butchered. He has to be careful when he calls for these elections. He must know that the people of Zimbabwe don’t want to have their bodies beaten once again”.

Sikhala said pressuring Mugabe spiritedly was critical to achieve a level electoral playing field. Among the pressure was to allow both Sadc and United Nations election observers into the country six months before elections.

“We cannot say it will totally destroy the hegemony of Zanu PF violence but somehow it will minimise and create some form of confidence among the electorate to go and vote. As we speak now all these things will be a farce, a pure joke.

“Mr Tsvangirai must be careful the he should not be hoodwinked by the tea that he drinks every Monday with Mugabe as it might cause him to get some bit of political mist in his brains that he might think that he will win elections under the current prevailing conditions.

“I will be the first person to congratulate him if he wins the elections and occupy the State House. If he could have failed in 2008 where he clearly won and he thinks this time the devil has changed, then, man, I am a fool!,” declared Sikhala.

He said it was naive to think that a united front involving a coalition of opposing political parties would knock off Mugabe and Zanu PF off their perch. “It does work but however, it doesn’t work in the current environmen and political set up in the country.

Zanu PF is still a dominant force. Even in the inclusive government the two MDCs who have gone into bed with Mugabe have been dribbled. Mugabe’s policies are the ones ruling the roost while they are there in the inclusive government”.

The former St Mary’s legislator said the current impasse on the constitutional draft was indicative of Mugabe’s grip on critical matters in the inclusive government.

“We also have to understand the failure of the inclusive to bring on board a reasonable constitution. The rejected Chidyausiku 2000 draft constitution is far much better in terms of democratic tenets than the one that is currently on the table.

“This inclusive government has just rubber stamped and reproduced a replica of Zanu PF thoughts in that document. Everything there is purely the reflection of Zanu PF ideas.

“The entire executive powers have been retained in the office of the president while we have been expecting some semblance of sharing of the executive powers in the office of the president, prime minister and Cabinet and also the legislature for them to share some oversight in terms of how the executive operates.

But, entirely, the president still owns every power and everything. “The Kariba Draft and even the 2000 Chidyausiku draft have better provisions in terms of advancing our democracy and interests of the people of Zimbabwe than this constitution.”

Sikhala slammed the mudslinging antics by both Tsvangirai and Ncube who have never missed an opportunity to attack each other during rallies.

“That split has been extremely ugly. Those (two people) love to be in the company of Mugabe than to be on their own. This is the level of how they hate each other. There are a lot of things that have not been said out.

“I am not prepared to talk about them now. You can only write them in a book at a very strategic time, because if you write them now they will cause a lot of chaos and pandemonium in the country. What has been brought is not the truth of what was happening during the united MDC.

“That thing started building in 2002 until it exploded in 2005. I am happy that most of the people who were involved intimately in the internal affairs of the party are not prepared to come out and say things as they are. It will be one day when I am retiring from politics at the age of 60 that’s when I will say things without fear or favour,” Sikhala told the Daily News.

“The acrimony was not just between Welshman and Morgan, it was happening among all senior officials. A lot of things happened and ended up with people going to visit masvikiro ne n’anga to make sure that some of the things that would not be solved in the boardroom would be solved by black magic and juju”.

Sikhala did concede he missed the glorious days of the united MDC but said he has since moved on. He said his fight for democracy would not be deterred by harassment and a seemingly lack of unity among opposition parties.

Sikhala was arrested and tortured by security agents many times including the 2003 incident which left him needing treatment in Europe. His lawyer and human rights activist, Gabriel Shumba left for South Africa after the torture.

“I have been arrested more than anybody else in this country for the determination to see change in this country. And that goal is still the one that inspires me. We cannot talk about individual political parties as if they are important than the Zimbabwe project.

The Zimbabwean project is to see change and we have to see things in the same way and in the same direction,” said Sikhala.

During the interview it was evident that Sikhala still has unfinished business with the people of St Mary’s. He was their MP for two terms before losing to Marvellous Khumalo of mainstream MDC.

“The people of St Mary’s know who their MP is. St Mary’s has never had any other MP except Job Sikhala. These people have been neglected and deserted since 2008 after the elections.

“The councillors entered into a crusade of theft. The same applied to their Constituency Development Fund (CDF). He stole the little money that he was allocated by Tendai Biti to develop the constituency. The level of theft and corruption that was practiced here in Chitungwiza I have never witnessed such theft for the past 30 years.

“There is no breathing space here. They have sold even rivers to build houses. I can show you a house that is at the bank of a stream. At anytime it can collapse. The level of corruption that was practised here, I think God won’t accommodate them (councillors). They are proper candidates for hell”.

The St Mary’s MP Khumalo was arrested for allegedly embezzling $50 000 CDF funds allocated by Biti. Daily News