MDC also has to change for Zimbabwe to progress


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Zimbabwe will not recover through the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front mending its ways. The Movement for Democratic Change also has to change, the head of a Johannesburg-based think-tank said today.

Writing in Business Day, Greg Mills, the head of the Brenthurst Foundation, said the MDC should reinvent itself because it had lost touch with its grassroots supporters.

“Now, with 49 MPs in a 210-strong parliament, the MDC faces an uphill battle. At the core of this is not how it might engage in formal political institutions, but rather how it reinvents and rebuilds itself,” he said

“Many now question whether the MDC — and by extension, the country — can make progress under Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite his personal courage, he is seen as compromised in terms of his personal peccadilloes and by his professional misjudgement in going into an election he later described as a ‘farce’.”

Mills said the problem might be how to get Tsvangirai to step down but he added that even if there were a new MDC leader, a lot of rebuilding will have to take place in reconnecting grassroots constituencies with the centre, and by creating political alliances with others.

“It is no good hoping that when Mugabe eventually goes, Zimbabwe’s problems will disappear. While his death might be the best thing for the MDC’s leaders, the same might not be said for the opposition and Zimbabwe.

“Mugabe’s demise might offer once more the prospect of a coalition government under Deputy President Joice Mujuru as a means of co-opting the elite. That formula offers the facade of political stability but, aside from padding the fortunes of a select few, little chance of growth, development and prosperity,” he said.

Mills said sanctions also posed a problem because they had proven a clumsy tool, signalling foreign disapproval more than wounding ZANU-PF. While their removal might help focus attention on domestic actors, it might also embolden ZANU-PF and strengthen its domestic credibility.

“The answer, until now, for foreigners and Zimbabweans concerned about the course of political developments has been to focus on ZANU-PF, to try to get it to reform. But this is not enough. If the past 15 years have taught us one thing, it is that recovery will not happen through ZANU-PF mending its ways. The MDC also has to change.”

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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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