Divisions healthy for democracy and MDC


Divisions that rocked the Movement for Democratic Change over participating or boycotting the senate elections were healthy for the party and could see it emerge even stronger than before as they have given the party a chance to evaluate itself, a political analyst said this week.

The divisions surfaced when party leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged the party to boycott the elections after it emerged that 33 members of the national council wanted to participate while 31 supported the boycott.

The three provinces in Matabeleland all filed their nomination papers contesting all 15 seats in the region. The MDC did not field any candidates in the Mashonaland provinces.

Political scientist and outspoken critic of the Mugabe administration, John Makumbe said, the division within the MDC showed that some people were thinking regionally and personally while others were thinking nationally and seeing the folly of participating in a flawed election.

But he said, both wanted regime change. There was just a difference in the methodology of effecting that regime change.

“I, however, believe that the MDC will emerge stronger after the divisions. There ought to be differences in every political party. This is a natural progression. It is healthy for the party because it enables the party to evaluate itself to look at whether members still have the same objectives.

“I sincerely believe that some were genuinely thinking that they did not want to give ZANU-PF any ground but others were going for personal gain,” Makumbe said.

A political commentator who preferred anonymity, but is more sympathetic to ZANU-PF, said the division within the MDC was healthy because the party was no longer a workers’ party. It was serving to many diverse interests.

“As things stand, ZANU-PF is more of a workers’ party than the MDC because some members of the MDC have no interest in workers at all. Perhaps Tsvangirai could get back to his feet and revamp the party as a workers’ party,” the commentator said.

He said the only reason why ZANU-PF was not popular with the workers at the moment was that President Robert Mugabe has stayed in power too long.

He also wished that the divisions that had rocked the MDC could erupt in ZANU-PF.

“The cracks in ZANU-PF are more serious than those in the MDC but no one will raise his head as long as President Mugabe is at the helm. The people are too scared of him. We are going to have serious problems once he leaves office. It will be like an earthquake.”

Makumbe echoed the same sentiments. He said ZANU-PF did not tolerate any voice of dissent. Anyone who differed with the party leadership had to quit.

“A lot of ZANU-PF officials do not even support the idea of a senate because it has no intrinsic value to democracy and will not help in any way in our economic recovery. But unlike in the MDC where people are free to express their differences, the ZANU-PF leadership does not tolerate any differences of opinion.

“If you are different, the message is, get out. But because of fear, they can’t get out because they would lose their farms. The case of Pearson Mbalekwa (who resigned from the party and lost his farm) is a classic example,” Makumbe said.

MDC publicity secretary for Bulawayo, Victor Moyo, said there was no split in the party. Everything was now water under the bridge. The party leadership should now be mature enough and accept the people’s decision.

He said the party was confident of victory in Bulawayo despite claims by ZANU-PF that it had been forced to field weak candidates because of bickering within the party.

“We are confident we are going to win. Otherwise there was no reason for us to contest if we were not sure we were going to win. We want to maintain our territory, so we are going to campaign vigorously because we are not just fighting against ZANU-PF but we have to prove ourselves to the leadership and the National Constitutional Assembly that wanted us to boycott the elections,” Moyo said.

He said contrary to suggestions by ZANU-PF, there had been intense interest in the senate seats.

“We selected the best candidates because at least six candidates were fielded in each constituency in the primaries,” he said. “Besides, we are providing the electorate with fresh brains while ZANU-PF is recycling the same tired and failed politicians.”


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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