BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST
HOSTED BY FERGAL KEANE
SECRETARY GENERAL MDC
AUGUST 11TH, 2002
Now as Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe tightens its grip on white farmers, attempting to force thousands more to leave their land, there is one voice in the country which has been rather subdued in recent weeks. The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change have been keeping a low profile through all of this. Earlier this morning I talked to the Secretary General of the MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube. We couldn't talk about his impending trial for alleged treason for legal reasons but I began by asking him how grave he thinks the current situation in Zimbabwe is.
The crisis is extremely grave. Let us look at the indicators of that crisis to measure how bad it is. You have a situation where inflation is running in three digit figures about 124 per cent as we speak. You have something like between 68 and 72 per cent of the people who should be working who are unemployed. You have chronic shortages of foreign currencies, the country is unable to pay for anything significant.
If things are as bad as you say, why aren't people on the streets? Why are we not seeing mass protests?
Well at the moment you have had almost for the last 18 months a government which has relied rather than on the consent of the government but has relied entirely on force. The show of military strength, of police strength in the streets, even when there is a demonstration by ten people, is overwhelming. And at the moment you can see that political activity, demonstrations are banned, there is the military, the army, and almost all the urban areas almost permanently on high alert and there's a sense of fear and a sense of terror across the country but most of all -
But mustn't you and the MDC take some responsibility for what's happening, in the sense that after the elections - which you lost - you didn't present people with a way forward, you didn't give them a road map for the future.
Well we think we did. Many people wanted us to ask people to take to the streets in their millions but ¿ the entire police with the entire military they have mobilised in the streets of Harare, the streets of ¿ everywhere, there was army trains, all sorts of weaponry in the streets and it would have been a massacre of people if they had taken to the streets and in our view we still believe that there must be a peaceful way, there must be a democratic way to effect change in this country other than through the use of force.
And very briefly, can I ask you if you think we are coming to a stage where people are going to take to the streets anyway, whatever you say.
Well there may be a day where it matters not what the MDC says. For the time being people are still prepared to listen to us, to listen to our questions that taking to the streets is not the solution but of course as the fair mind depends on the crisis, depends, it may be that people will say well to hell with the MDC we won't listen to their peaceful methods and to their questions.
Welshman Ncube, thank you very much for joining us.