Welshman Ncube: "we saw an increasing tendency towards dictatorship and violence in MDC".

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Professor Welshman Ncube, (pictured) secretary general of the MDC, was a close ally of Morgan Tsvangirai before the party split into two on 12 October 2005. In this interview first published by the Sunday News in Zimbabwe, he tells Reason Mpofu why his faction split from Tsvangirai's. "... You had another precedent on 12 October [2005] where the National Council made a resolution and Mr Tsvangirai stood up and said that he did not care about the resolution. We could call him a dictator if we wanted ... The final straw which broke the camel's back--we asked ourselves 'if this man could do this now before he was in State House, what will he be like if he was in State House commanding the CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation), the police, and the army?'."

Reason Mpofu: When the MDC entered the grand stage in 1999, it emerged as a vibrant opposition party. What were its strengths back then?

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Prof. Welshman Ncube: Well, of course the strength of the MDC lay in the [fact that it was an] organisation which brought together political and civil society activists who had worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s for recognition and implementation of a new constitution, [they] had worked in defence of human rights, had worked in defence of the rights of the working people of this country and accordingly [they united] at the working people's convention in 1999. What you had was the coming together of all those forces which regarded themselves as the democratic forces representing what we thought would be a bright future for Zimbabwe.

Mpofu: Some analysts have argued that the MDC was simply driven by urban people's wish for change and nothing more. What is your comment?

Ncube: No, far from it. The MDC was driven by the founding principles and values. Essentially, that is to say we recognised that the ideals of the liberation struggle had remained largely unfulfilled in a sense. For instance, greater freedom, greater liberty, respect for human rights, respect for individuals, and also more importantly the economic prosperity which independence had promised had not been achieved by the overwhelming majority of the people.

So the support that the MDC drew to itself represented the gulf which existed between the promise of independence and the reality on the ground in the country at the time of the formation of the MDC, and the people had hoped that the MDC would make that leap from the promise of independence to the reality of that promise.

Mpofu: But now looking at the revelations that David Coltart is making on how violent the MDC is, would you say this has been one of your founding principles, considering that since the formation of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai has always threatened violence?

Ncube: You have got to distinguish between the ideals of what the MDC aspired for and fought for relentlessly for six years and the perversion which entered into the picture through some of the leaders of that party.

The MDC always stood for non-violence--it always stood for democracy and for the betterment of the people. What then happened over the years is that some of us in the leadership, having been fighting by all accounts a very brutal regime in terms of the use of violence, we ended up ourselves copying some of the methods and, in fact, admiring some of the methods of the Zanu PF government. That is what basically happened.

The split that then took place in the MDC was a split basically between those who continued to uphold the founding values and the principles of the party, and those who became seduced with getting into power at any costs regardless of the values and principles of the party.

Mpofu: Looking at that, would you then say Tsvangirai is as democratic as he claims to be?

Ncube: Well, let me say that it is not for me to judge Mr Tsvangirai. What I can tell you is that the conflict that took place in the MDC which led to the split was a conflict between the majority of the members of the National Council and Mr Tsvangirai. And that split centred around the question you raised, that some of us believed that we must walk the talk of our values. We must be democratic before we are in fact in government. We must be non-violent before we are in government; we must be transparent and we must not be corrupt.

What then happened is that we saw an increasing tendency towards dictatorship, an increasing tendency towards the use of violence not even against the party's enemy, but the use of violence against members of the party who disagreed or who were perceived as disagreeing with Mr Tsvangirai and the kitchen cabinet.

To that extent, you can...

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