History has a funny way of repeating itself. This was the situation the Movement for Democratic Change faced eight years ago as the 2005 parliamentary elections approached.
The party was not decided up to December 2004 on whether to participate in the elections which were scheduled for March.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front probably aware of the confusion within the MDC had announced the elections more than a year before they were to be held.
History is repeating itself. The MDC which wanted elections within 18 months of the formation of the inclusive government is now backtracking.
ZANU-PF which had argued that the transitional period should be five years has been pushing for elections raising questions as to where it is getting this confidence after its drubbing in 2008.
Commenting on the MDC’s indecision in 2004, the United States embassy said: “Many here, including within the opposition, have criticised the MDC’s indecision over whether to participate in elections, but the party is damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
“Announcing it will participate would confer some degree of legitimacy on the election climate in view of the party’s oft-reiterated pledge that it would not participate until the playing field was levelled.”
Ed: Indeed, it seems we are back to square one again.
Viewing cable 04HARARE2062, MDC DEFERS BOYCOTT DECISION, PARTY CONGRESS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 002062
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009
SUBJECT: MDC DEFERS BOYCOTT DECISION, PARTY CONGRESS
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d
¶1. (U) In a circular distributed to the diplomatic community
on December 20, the MDC announced that it would defer until
January a decision on whether to participate in the
parliamentary elections scheduled for March. The missive
reported that the party would continue to canvass its
membership on the issue of election participation until early
January. The party’s National Council, its senior
decision-making body, was expected to make a final decision
on whether to participate later that month.
¶2. (SBU) MDC Secretary for Presidential Affairs Gandhi
Mudzingwa confirmed to the Embassy on December 20 a report in
the December 19 edition of the semi-independent Daily Mirror
concerning the MDC’s Party Congress. According to the
article, MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube indicated that
the party would postpone its National Congress until after
the March elections if the party decided to participate in
elections. Ncube added that if the party decided to boycott
the election, it could proceed with the Party Congress in
March after conducting the Women’s and Youth Congresses in
the preceding months.
¶3. (C) COMMENT: Many here, including within the opposition,
have criticized the MDC’s indecision over whether to
participate in elections, but the party is damned if they do,
damned if they don’t. Announcing it will participate would
confer some degree of legitimacy on the election climate in
view of the party’s oft-reiterated pledge that it would not
participate until the playing field was leveled. Moreover,
participation would raise an outcry among the many within the
party and civil society who want a boycott. A boycott,
however, would risk giving an election sweep to the ruling
party, which could yet garner a sympathetic SADC’s
endorsement by portraying the boycott as unreasonably
obstructionist. Such an outcome conceivably could consign
the MDC to political oblivion. For now, a strategy of
temporizing — consulting with and preparing its membership
for a decision and probing for possible concessions by the
ruling party — may be the best it can do.