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Political leaders must stop spreading hate speech against judges: Mwonzora

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MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has said politicians must be responsible and stop spreading hate speech and lies about judges, in particular reference to High Court Judge Justice Edith Mushore who ruled that Nelson Chamisa was illegitimate.

“As an officer of the court myself, I am not very comfortable with spreading hate language against judges in the media or social media. I think judges still need to be respected.

“Respecting the judiciary does not necessarily mean agreeing with their judgements, but I think it is wrong for anyone to demonise judges.

“However, it is permissible to disagree with judgements wherever people feel that the judgement is not fair. I do not have evidence, as an officer of the court, of interference,” Mwonzora said.

He was responding to a set of questions in an interview with the Standard.

Mwonzora said the MDC had only two options: either to implement the ruling or to appeal it, sentiments which agree with what MDC-T vice president Obert Gutu said two weeks ago.

“What is important is that a judgement exists and that as a responsible leadership we have to do something about it. There are two choices, either the judgement is complied with or that there is an appeal.

“When we held the standing committee meeting, it was directed that there be an appeal, so that is the collective decision. Individual decisions don’t matter anymore,” said Mwonzora.

Mwonzora indicated his unhappiness with the way the Chamisa-led MDC handled the matter from the onset, saying that the embarrassing moment could have been avoided with internal dialogue in the party.

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“As a lawyer myself, I am not satisfied at the manner in which this matter was handled by our own representative. In my view, this is an indication that there is need for more internal dialogue within the party.

“There was absolutely no need to get to this stage. In other words, what is happening now was avoidable, we could have been more vigilant.

Mwonzora, who is contesting for the position of secretary-general, said his chances of retaining the position are good “if cheating is avoided.”

“Given a free and fair election, I will definitely win, but quite a number of things have to be done. An independent electoral commission has to put its foot down to avoid cheating and it must also make sure that those things that must be availed to candidates must be availed on time.

“The voters roll must be availed to all the candidates as agreed. It was supposed to be availed on April 29, but we are yet to receive it. There must be watertight security and also we must avoid as much as possible the running of this election by staff members of the MDC.

“So it depends on the way the commission will conduct this election. I do not see why people continue underestimating me every time. In 2014 I had one nomination and I went on to win by more than 1 000 votes, in 2011 I had one nomination and went on to win by more than 1 000 votes.”

Turning to his tenure as secretary-general, which began in October 2014, Mwonzora said: “What you notice is that apart from the aftermath of (Morgan) Tsvangirai’s death, the party remained united. I am the only secretary-general who had served two presidents without being the principal cause of splitting the party, so I have kept the party united.

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“Secondly, I dealt with the issue of electoral reforms and played a part in having the BVR system put in place and our election was relatively more peaceful than before, but of course, we didn’t have enough, money which is the problem that my tenure had.

“The powers of the secretary-general to source finances were removed and put in the treasurer-general’s office and therefore I was not in control. We managed to make sure to respect the youth and women’s quota and we have more of these in Parliament than before.

“We also managed, through NERA (National Electoral Reform Agenda), to unite political parties around electoral reforms and we also managed to negotiate the alliance agreement, so I think we did quite well.”

The MDC heads into their 5th elective Congress this week in Gweru. — ZOOMZimbabwe


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