Is the MDC – T listening?

OPINION – Without the risk of giving any ammunition to Zanu-pf’s member of politburo so far in charge of propaganda, Jonathan Moyo, it is proper to interrogate the MDC-T for a change. Despite the fact that the MDC-T is a by-product of the civic society, ironically it appears now less responsive to new ideas or calls for change of strategy by its former allies in the face of increasing Zanu-pf repression.

Why the MDC-T?

Naturally, we should be concerned about what the MDC-T does and where it is going because it is the majority party or the largest in Zimbabwe followed by Zanu-pf if we are using the votes cast in the 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections as a guide. Therefore, how we are governed can not be left to chance.

Furthermore, if the MDC-T does not become complacent, it could easily romp to victory to the disappointment of Jonathan Moyo in the next elections without the need for another coalition government. That is the main concern of this paper. Is the MDC-T listening?

What could the MDC-T do better?

The MDC-T should be responsive to constructive criticism and be careful not to alienate its allies and sympathisers. There are millions of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who want to be unequivocally assured by the MDC-T of their right to vote in the forthcoming referendum and elections and they want to see evidence.

Equally the MDC-T should show concern for exiles who are facing deportation. Some of the exiles never received counselling for post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing or experiencing political violence in Zimbabwe and now they face the prospect of forced removal to the same environment because the MDC-T is sending mixed signals to the international community.

The MDC-T should admit that power-sharing with Zanu-pf has failed, but that does not mean walking away of the coalition government and plunge the country into anarchy. The party should not attack human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Freedom House or pollsters for delivering bad news because they are only messengers. The MDC-T should not break the mirror if it sees a bad image.

For example, the Human Rights Watch organisation has observed that South Africa and the international community need to acknowledge the power sharing deal in Zimbabwe has failed to resolve the crisis (SAPA/ thezimbabwemail.com, 23/03/11).

It is therefore significant that the Crisis in Zimbabwe – a coalition of 350 civil society organisations has called for intervention in the election process by South Africa, the SADC, the AU and the United Nations. The MDC-T should approach the UN and not expect the UN to come to it. There is a Shona saying: ‘Anorwara ndiye anotsvaga n’anga – It’s the sick who looks for the physician.’

The case for UN mediation

Evidence of Zanu-pf’s hostility towards the United Nations was demonstrated by the expulsion of UN Torture expert Manfred Nowak in October 2009 (france24.com, 29/10/09). Naturally, the party’s profile of violence and the use of torture against political opponents would not go un-audited if the UN was the mediator unlike at present when a suspected secret ‘terror’ report is being withheld by the mediator despite court orders.

More specifically, the UN is better experienced and resourced to oversee governance issues like the writing of a new constitution, a properly run referendum as well as internationally supervised harmonised elections in Zimbabwe, something that is unlikely under the auspices of South Africa, SADC or the AU combined. Equally, civil society would find it much easier and less intimidating to seek redress through the UN than SADC for rights abuses during Operations Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, Hakudzokwi, Makavhotera Papi, Chikorokoza, land reform and election violence. The victims of these and other forms of political violence are bitter at the failure of the MDC-T to break the regime’s culture of impunity.

Morgan Tsvangirai should remember what he said when he launched the report titled: ‘Cries from Goromonzi: Inside Zimbabwe’s Torture Chambers’ compiled by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) in Harare in 2010. He admitted that:

‘Indeed, as a Government, we have not yet made the types of progress or democratic reforms which were the very reason for entering into this new administration. It is fitting that this launch on March 11, the day when many of us gathered here were together in Highfields and witnessed and experienced the brutality of the regime’s attempts to suppress dissent’ (zimbabwemetro.com, 11/03/10).

Admittedly the UN was slow to act during the Rwanda- Burundi and Kosovo massacres however it appears the world body has learnt its lessons. UN success stories include Namibia, Haiti, Southern Sudan and some have already added Libya but that is a matter of time. The MDC-T should know that some of the accusations of treason would not exist if the mediation was via the United Nations because there would be no crime in engaging members of the UN unlike now with SADC and AU.

Furthermore, the MDC-T should capitalise on Zanu-pf’s vulnerability to international pressure. Unlike SADC’s fear of Mugabe, the UN has global powers of intervention and the threat of imposing real sanctions to ensure compliance with its mandate. Libya is a good example. That could be why Zanu-pf is very quiet on UN mediation.

What is Zanu-pf doing to weaken MDC-T?

Zanu-pf is investing massive resources in a psychological warfare against the MDC-T and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai in order to discredit and wear them thin apart from using violence and intimidation on opposition supporters while constantly shifting goal posts for the referendum and elections. The idea is to keep people guessing.

The former ruling party seems aware of its weaknesses too judging from utterances of people like Jonathan Moyo such as when he said: ‘If there’s an early election, with all the foreseen and unforeseen challenges it would throw up, Zanu-pf would without doubt need a robust mobilisation strategy which is radically different from what it used during the Copac outreach’ (newzimbabwe.com, 21/11/10).

Zanu-pf’s bag of tricks

Zanu-pf has never run-out of survival tactics which have seen the party allegedly use controversial laws like AIPPA and POSA to great effect as well as the much feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to ‘speak’ on behalf of its party members at the constitution outreach programme and to infiltrate the Mapostori religious sect just to mention a few. There seems to be a real mission to make Zimbabwe ungovernable.

Within Zanu-pf ‘s bag of tricks are half-baked indigenisation and empowerment policies which turned out to be not convincing even to some of their authors; the multi-million anti-sanctions signature petition which reportedly had been signed voluntarily by only 30 people since its launch at Glamis Stadium for which the City of Harare has not yet received the US$1000 deposit three weeks later.

Block-booking that never was

In order to deny other parties access to public amenities, Zanu-pf allegedly claimed to have block-booked the spacious Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield Harare for the whole year, but mayor Muchadei Masunda has dismissed the assertion as not true (Newsday, 24/03/11). Lately, there has been the unearthing of real skeletons by Zanu-pf in mine shafts in an effort to arouse a sense of patriotism coming on the heels of the ZRP guided tour of former camps of Zanla and Zipra in Mozambique and Zambia respectively which were bombed by Rhodesia forces during the liberation war.

What prospects for Sunday rally?

There is a possibility that Zanu-pf may again try to scuttle plans by the MDC-T to hold its star rally on Sunday 27th March 2011. This is now more likely following the death of Zanu-pf Harare Governor David Karimanzira who may be buried at Heroes Acre on Sunday! Similarly, the MDC-T should send a clear message to its members.

Any successful disruption of MDC-T rallies would be a self-fulfilling prophecy for Zanu-Pf propagandist Jonathan Moyo who claimed that: ‘The Copac outreach has exposed the MDC-T beyond description as a totally useless party in between elections with no mobilisation capacity’ (Mdc-T creating chaos for survival, newzimbabwe.com, 21/11/10). Hopefully all roads lead to Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields on Sunday!!!

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London, zimanalysis2009@gmail.com