MDC split, a reflection of what is happening in ZANU-PF?


A war veteran who is a member of the ruling ZANU-PF has come up with a new theory on why the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) now seems headed for a permanent split. He says the ZAPU element that had joined the MDC at its formation is simply pulling out.

The split, he says, is a reflection of the battle for succession in the ruling ZANU-PF which started with the imposition of Joyce Mujuru as party vice-president last year. Most people felt that President Robert Mugabe was positioning her to succeed him when he retires in 2008.

The war veteran said elements from the former ZAPU were now regrouping and taking position in readiness for 2008 because they feel that if the unity accord of 1987 was really genuine it is their turn to take over the presidency since ZANU-PF has held it for two decades.

According to the war veteran, these elements are the ones that scuttled the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration, that sought to back Emmerson Mnangagwa for vice-president because it was against their plan.

Commentators, however, brushed off the theory saying the split within the MDC was simply because of personality problems and differences in ideology.

“The MDC was simply a coalition of forces that were disgruntled with the government and the economic meltdown at the time. They did not share a common ideology but simply a similar target, that of removing Mugabe,” political commentator Lawton Hikwa said.

Hikwa said another major problem was that the MDC had adopted a “near perfect” party constitution that had clipped the wings of its leader.

If party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had executive powers, he would simply have said the party would not participate in the senate elections and that would have been it. It would not have been brought before a vote that ultimately led to the present stalemate.

A civic leader who preferred anonymity because of his close ties with both factions of the MDC said the split had exposed the personality and ideological differences in the MDC.

He said it appeared that the pro-senate group was essentially not prepared to be led by someone who they considered not educated. They also considered themselves middle class and were therefore out of touch with the grassroots.

This was one of the reasons why they had lost the senate elections because they had simply taken the electorate for granted.

The civic leader who admitted that it was no secret that most civic organisations were behind Tsvangirai because they were against the senate elections, said as a trade unionist, Tsvangirai had the grassroots at heart.

His efforts to organise mass action had therefore been frustrated by his colleagues because they did not believe in them.

The civic leader dismissed the theory that the split was simply a pull out by former ZAPU elements. He said ZAPU could not be regrouping as its leaders had already been discredited.

“Right now, it is not a question of ZANU and ZAPU. Anybody who challenges Mugabe becomes a principal and anybody seen to be working with him loses credibility.

“People from Matabeleland who think Tsvangirai cannot do without them are fooling themselves. Politics in Zimbabwe has always been linked to personalities.

“You cannot talk about ZANU without Mugabe, ZAPU without (Joshua) Nkomo, ZUM (Zimbabwe Unity Movement) without (Edgar) Tekere and MDC without Tsvangirai.

“This is the people’s conception of things. So Tsvangirai can come up with new people from Matabeleland and people will accept them just like they accepted those who joined the MDC in 1999 because they were nonentities at the time. What is more important is whether your policies resonate with the people.”

Hikwa agreed. He said people’s loyalties at the moment were driven more by the need for change. They were looking for someone who could redeem them from the present crisis. But at the same time, he added, they were tired of empty promises, that is why they did not vote in the just ended senate elections.


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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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