Since the dates for the congress were announced there has been fierce jostling for positions. Sadly factionalism and divisions are now rearing their ugly heads in the party. But a question which quickly comes to mind is for what importance and significance is this congress both for the party and the nation as a whole. This I say mindful of the fact that the MDC got the majority of vote in the last elections held in Zimbabwe and therefore they remain the most popular political party in the country.
For us the street people I think the congress presents the party with an opportunity to redeem itself and return to its founding principles and ideologies they have since negated. Unlike what we witnessed in the last congress held in Harare in 2006 at the City Sports Centre where some cadres with no clear ideological standpoint gate crashed and accidentally found themselves into leadership positions without really understanding their roles, the basic principles governing the party. This time around those of weak ideological grounding should be exposed and should not be allowed to occupy any position in the party. But the misfortune that may haunt the congress is that a majority of the delegates might be largely a pool of mediocre as we have witnessed in the past. So there is need during the ongoing provincial congresses to elect quality leadership.
In this article, I’m trying to put on the table what personally I think should be the focus of the MDC as they conduct the congress. Fundamentally it should be noted that the congress is the highest decision making body outside the National Council in the MDC and it converges after every five years. Hence there is need for seriousness come end of the month when the party goes to congress. To some the congress presents them with an opportunity to grab those positions they have been yearning for so dearly, to some it will be an opportunity to mix and mingle and make merry. But the most important aspect of this watershed congress is not about electing a new leadership as some might think.
Most importantly I however think that the single most important objective of this congress is to lay bare the aspirations, frustrations and struggles of the suffering people of this country, the working class people, the unemployed youth, the vulnerable groups, those infected and affected by the HI Virus who are finding it difficult to have their issues raised and listened to in a country where polarization and intolerance has become an order of the day. This congress should be able to develop a clear action plan to advance the aspirations of the party and the people of Zimbabwe since it is now evidently clear that the ZANU PF regime has totally failed the people of Zimbabwe. The congress should be able to debate and interrogate the failures and successes made by the party since its formation and also usher new strategies of dealing with other opposing political players. It should be able to address the issues of violence, factionalism and the cracking alliance between the workers and the students movement.
When the MDC was formed in 1999, it was a product of a coalition of the students, the working class people and other vulnerable groups of our society and its main objective was to address the aspirations of the poor and the working class people. Those who still remember the National Working People’s Convention (NWPC) in 1999 organized by the ZCTU, NCA and the students movement. It was this alliance which stood by its baby (MDC) for all these years. Sadly the MDC like a stubborn child who refuses advice from its parents decided to run away from home unceremoniously. To put it straight they failed to maintain the alliance partners largely due to the fact that those with money were now dictating the pace and thereby deliberately sidelining the working class and the poor people.
The congress provides the MDC with an opportunity to address this anomaly if they still seek to remain the viable force in the country. Currently, with the frustrations of the working people due to poor salaries and working conditions, the students of Zimbabwe failing to access education because of an elite educational system and the manner in which the party reneged from its founding principles by participating in a fraudulent constitutional making process that excluded the people of Zimbabwe. Indications are that if they remain rigid the alliance would be forced with no option but to transform itself into a formidable political movement that will address the aspirations of the poor. The ANC of South Africa is a party that can stand the test of time. It has managed to maintain its allies whose grassroots organization have played a key role in maintaining ANC in power. The alliance comprising COSATU, SASCO and the SACP all have remained the cog of ANC’s support base. Even though it was not made as a declaration the MDC’s ideological standpoint had a bias towards a leftist orientation.
An urgent but painful call is for the National Working People’s Convention resolutions to take the centre stage as a guiding document for the congress. While it also embraces the Zimbabwe People’s Charter to cover up for the relatively neo-liberal inclinations it had. It is painful because it is very exclusive for some who are now calling the shots in the party. These documents will be central to any future formations that will attempt to resolve the socio-economic and political puzzle for the Zimbabwean crisis.
Calling a spade a spade and not a big spoon the caliber of some of the comrades occupying positions in the MDC leaves a lot to be desired. Some of them cannot interpret simple party positions a situation disturbing for a big political animal like the MDC. One in the sense that they do not understand the history of that party and how it came into being. The congress should establish an ideological school were young cadres are natured, taught about the history and the ideologies of the party and this should act as a grooming platform for future leaders of the party.
The last thing on the agenda would be to elect a new leadership that will be at the helm of the party for the next five years to implement the policies and resolutions to be adopted at this congress. The party must ensure that those elected into office are genuine. Those elected should be of high intellectual capacity, political maturity and discipline. Therefore congress must always be wary of those willing to hurt the interests of the party, sacrificing the organization for their own personal gratification. Comrades should always put the interests of the party first ahead of personal interest. There is need to develop cadres who are not obsessed with material or personal gains but those committed to serving the party selflessly and voluntarily. This must be a culture that the party must entrench especially in the youth assembly.
There is need for the party to also map out a clear roadmap ahead of the forthcoming elections coming up with strategies that will ensure that they do not continue crying foul as we have been witnessing in the previous elections.
The point here is that we would not expect the MDC after winning another election failing to grab state power. Hezvo!
Blessing Vava can be contacted on email@example.com, he writes from Chipinge