By Brian Raftopoulos ......Real critical issues l think are of fundamental importance to understand the blink future of opposition movements in Zimbabwe....
THE dramatic schism and implosion in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, in 2005/2006, has once again raised major questions about the future of opposition politics not only at national level, but also on the continent. The MDC represented the hope of millions of Zimbabweans searching for a way out of the deep political and economic crisis that characterises contemporary Zimbabwe.
For a short period the party pointed to the possibilities of creating an alternative, democratic non-violent, post-colonial politics, while confronting the enormous legacy and legitimacy of a former liberation movement and its enigmatic leader.
Founded on the basis of a strong civic movement, enunciating the need for both political and economic reforms, the MDC captured the growing disgruntlement of Zimbabwe’s citizens over eroding economic conditions and the political arrogance of the ruling party. The energy of a younger generation of civic activists, no longer paralysed by the fear of confronting the ‘party of liberation’ and the ideological baggage that accompanied it, brought a vibrant energy into Zimbabwean politics, and expanded the subjunctive mood of the post-colonial milieu.
The combination of the politics of constitutional reform and trade union activism provided a national organisational reach and an expansive discursive opportunity that radically challenged the increasingly moribund exclusivity of Zanu PF’ nationalism. The politics of possibility dominated the discussions of thousands of activists around the country, and the sense of imminent victory, often of Panglossian dimensions, was everywhere apparent. The huge weight of a political monolith appeared to be lifting, and opportunities to pose new questions not only about the present and future, but also about the legacies of the past, began to appear.
For some analysts the emergence of this opposition was merely an ‘anti-Mugabe reaction’, a counter to the glaring shortcomings of the ruling party. In short it represented no positive alternatives. One response to this accusation is that of course it was such a reaction; all opposition movements begin in such ways. However it also generated the release of new energies and possibilities and the construction of a novel democratic discourse in the Zimbabwean context.
The ruling party and its intellectuals have been loath to admit this, because in the discursive world of Zimbabwe’s liberation politics the politics of freedom can only emanate from the former liberation movement. This form of ideological closure has been a central part of the authoritarian politics that has marked the most recent period of Zimbabwe’s politics.1 Despite the repressive response of the state to these challenges such questions continue to be asked.
Notwithstanding the possibilities and hopes that the emergence of the MDC created, the opposition has also been marked by very serious shortcomings that have reflected, both the ways in which dissenting politics often take on the aspects of the political culture they are seeking to displace, and the organisational and imaginative limits of the MDC challenge. These are the issues that this paper will attempt to explore, as well as to point to some of the challenges that are likely to confront any future opposition initiative in Zimbabwe. However before tackling these central concerns the paper will first provide a brief historical context to the emergence of the MDC.
Historical Trends in Nationalist and Opposition Politics.
Several studies of African opposition politics in Zimbabwe during both the colonial and post-colonial periods stress the importance of a triple legacy in undermining the growth of a democratic tradition. This legacy includes the influence of ‘traditional’, subject politics2, the authoritarian structures of colonial rule and the commandist politics of the liberation struggle with its attendant view that only liberation parties could represent the ‘will of the people’ for the foreseeable future.3 Thus while nationalism provided a contingent discursive unity, usually marked by tensions and cleavages, this mobilisational force also carried with it a series of unpropitious tendencies undermining future democratic politics. During the colonial period nationalist politics was often characterised by violent ruptures both between and within nationalist parties.
The 1963 split between Zapu and its splinter organisation Zanu, was marked by a series of violent clashes and mutual demonisation that continued until the formation of the Patriotic Front on the eve of the 1979 Lancaster House Conference. The rivalry between the two parties continued in the aftermath of the post-1980 settlement, punctuated by the Gukurahundi violence of the new state in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the mid- 1980’s. This massive deployment of state violence effectively led to the formal subsumption of PF Zapu to the ruling Zanu PF in the form of the 1987 Unity Accord, and thus the demise of a formidable opposition party. Within the nationalist parties themselves, a number of violent power struggles occurred in both Zanu and Zapu in the 1970’s that consolidated the leadership of the ‘old guard’4, setting the precedent for the violent marginalisation of dissenting voices within nationalist politics.5 Ndlovu- Gatsheni describes the effects of these legacies on post-colonial politics as follows:
The new Zimbabwean state under Zanu PF failed miserably to make a break with the tradition of nationalist authoritarianism and guerrilla violence as well as colonial settler oppression. The ruling party itself failed to de-militarise itself as a militarised liberation movement, not only in practice, but also in attitude and style of management of civil institutions and the state at large. The new Zanu PF government readily assumed the resilient colonial and equally military oriented structures left by the retreating settler state, with serious implications for democracy, human rights and human security.6
For most of the 1980’s the political milieu was characterised by a combination of repression, in particular the brutal state response to opposition in Matabeleland, and a general deference to the authority and liberation legitimacy of the new state. Most emergent civic bodies and NGOs regarded their activities as complementing the developmental programmes of Zanu PF, and the state could draw on a considerable amount of ideological capital because of its liberation history.7 By 1987 the ruling party had disposed of two opposition groups, the first, in 1986, by constitutionally removing the entrenched white seats in parliament agreed to at the Lancaster House Constitution, and the second through the brutal Gukurahundi campaign against Zapu in the mid 1980’s and the pursuant 1987 Unity Accord between the two major nationalist parties which effectively incapacitated Zapu. Through these measures, the introduction of an executive president in 1987 with immense power, and ready access to the repressive legacies of the settler state, the outlook for opposition politics appeared dismal.8
However the combination of a contracting economy, the erosion of state legitimacy through the exposure of corruption in the ruling party, and the emergence of critical social forces such as the labour movement, the student movement, along with critical intellectual and media responses, led to the emergence of another opposition party in 1989. Led by former Zanu PF stalwart, Edgar Tekere, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) fought the ruling party’s attempts to impose a one-party state in Zimbabwe, and performed favourably in the 1990 Presidential election. Though the party did not survive for long in the 1990’s, and was largely confined in terms of its support base to a small urban and student base, particularly in Tekere’s home area in Mutare, the ZUM both fractured the seeming unity of Zanu PF and fought for the necessity of multi party politics. The various attempts at opposition that followed in the 1990’s, such as the Zanu Ndonga , the Democratic Party, the Forum Party and the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, were largely unsuccessful in constructing national constituencies and in providing popular alternatives to Zanu PF. Moreover in the face of determined state repression and an electoral system that provided little space for them to score electoral victories, these parties, with limited capacity to develop viable structures, remained little more than political amusement for the ruling party.9 In sum by the mid 1990’s opposition politics were largely built around individuals, prone to fractious outbreaks, and unable to develop both a popular message and a national reach. As Masunungure notes, these parties ‘appeared to be more aggressive in attacking each other than in directing their firepower at Zanu PF.’10
By the latter half of the 1990’s the fortunes of opposition politics took a different turn. In to an apparent barren field of dissent emerged the most formidable opposition party of the post-colonial period. In 1999 the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was born, the product of a combination of labour struggles, constitutional politics and a generation of human rights struggles, and built on the failures of previous attempts at opposition politics. The new movement also attracted the support of the mainly white large scale commercial farming sector. Constructed in the era of debilitating structural adjustment programmes, the MDC drew on and fed into a growing wave of political and economic disenchantment, and provided a message of ‘change’ which found resonance through nationally based structures.
Through the language of political rights, constitutionalism and economic reform, the MDC and its social partners confronted Zanu PF with its first mass opposition party, and the threat of imminent defeat.11 Carried on the wave of the constitutional movement’s referendum victory in 2000 against a Zanu PF imposed constitution, and backed by the threat of popular mobilisation, the MDC gained nearly 50% of the parliamentary vote in 2000 in the face of enormous electoral obstacles, and state violence. Moreover as Laakso points out, the organisational base of the MDC ‘was not merely one of popular discontent with the executive, but an explicit agenda to democratise the state through a peaceful transition.’12
Since its dynamic ascension onto the Zimbabwean political stage in the 1990’s the MDC has had to face the difficult tasks of building accountable party structures, developing policy positions and peaceful political strategies, and projecting a regional and international profile, against an authoritarian state that has consistently closed down the spaces for opposition politics in the country. Moreover the MDC has had to confront the effects of the country’s authoritarian political legacies on its attempts to develop an alternative political culture. It is to the analysis of these issues that we now turn.
The MDC: Confronting the challenges of opposition politics in an authoritarian state.
Soon after its launch in September 1999 the MDC had to confront a number of organisational and structural party problems. At a strategic meeting in early 2000 the leadership outlined the following challenges:
* The lack of coordination of policy committees.
* Lack of coordination between the Presidents’s Office and the Secretariat.
* Lack of accountability and procedures in the disbursement of funds.
* Need for clearer procedures in the appointment and discipline of the security officials.
* Insufficient consultation between the President and the Vice President.
* Lack of coordination between the party Chairman and other departments.
* The need for more clarity on the functions of the Deputy Secretary General.13
The meeting also noted that the ‘President’s office should provide leadership for the entire party, while facilitating the strengthening of particular departments.’14 In order to deal with these problems the leadership agreed to rationalise the functions of each position and improve the communication within the leadership, as well as between the leadership and the various levels of the party structures. In addition to these problems the violent land occupations following the NCA/MDC victory in the February 2000 constitutional referendum confronted the MDC with three major strategic problems: The cordoning off of the rural areas by the ruling party; the elimination of MDC structures and personnel; and the lack of alternative sources of information in rural areas.15 In the face of these challenges the MDC set itself the following objectives:
* To facilitate the reduction of levels of political violence and the creation of more peaceful conditions for electioneering.
* To shift the mode of mobilisation to a low profile campaign.
* To provide information on the election process that would increase voter confidence and the assurance of voter secrecy.
* To raise the profile of the MDC campaign message on the economy, particularly land, jobs, indigenisation and investment.
* To re-engage the civic organisations that provided the bedrock for the formation of the MDC.
* To isolate President Mugabe within his own party, at national level and in the regional and international spheres.
* To pressure the police to carry out their duties.
* To maintain the international media focus on the primary goal of the elections, and the monitoring of election violence.
* To minimise the security threat to the leadership of the MDC.16
A number of issues emerge from these early assessments. Firstly the problems of organisation, responsibility and accountability in party structures that would later take on such explosive forms were already apparent. Secondly the party was aware of the central strategic challenge that confronted it, namely the commitment to a peaceful, electoral process of change, while understanding the growing limitations of this approach in the face of the ruling party’s intransigence. As a strategy update paper noted, while the ‘strongest weapon’ of the MDC was ‘public adherence to the principles of democracy and the rule of law’, the party ‘must not lose sight of the fact that we may be in for a much longer and harder race than we first envisaged.’17 Thirdly the MDC, as part of its commitment to peaceful politics, was still optimistic, many would say naïve, in its belief that it could hope for a certain minimum level of professionalism from the organs of the state. Fourthly, as the ruling party was in the initial stages of reorganising its party and state structures in the face of the MDC threat, the opposition party believed that it was possible to work on the divisions in Zanu PF and to isolate Mugabe. Attention was paid particularly to the fractious Masvingo province where there were long and well publicised differences between the Zanu PF provincial strong man, Edison Zvobgo, and Mugabe.
In 2001 it was believed that Zvobgo’s position could be summed up as, ‘We don’t want Mugabe but we are not MDC.’18 Lastly, in addition to the difficulties faced in attempting to develop its media capacity, the MDC was clearly unsure of how to deal with the problem of rural penetration given the enormous obstacles presented by the land occupations led by the war veterans and supported politically and logistically by the ruling party and state machinery. Some of its suggestions included engaging the support of churches and approaching traditional leaders, but there was little substance provided for the proposed strategies.19
Looking at the problem of structures more closely provides some idea of the organisational problems faced by the MDC in 2000. At an MDC District Workshop in August 2000, a number of problems were registered. It was noted that while structures were in place at district level they were weak at branch level. Conflicts were also reported by some of the committees over poor time-keeping, lack of protocol and the influence of alcohol. A request was made for a code of conduct to be passed on to the Secretary General of the party. There was also a ‘strong feeling’ that all MPs must communicate with their electorate, ‘even if they have made promises that they cannot fulfil in the short-term.’ The meeting warned that if the MPs ‘do not become visible any further campaigning will be difficult.’ The members recommended that in order to strengthen the party there was need for training in a number of areas: The procedures for running meetings, minute taking; public speaking; conflict resolution mechanisms; organisation; budgeting and allocation of scarce resources; proposal writing; and writing internal memos.20 These problems became apparent during campaign periods, when the Party’s lack of coordination, strategy and discipline were exposed. A report on the Marondera West campaign in late 2000, revealed a series of operational problems. Youths and security were brought into the area and ‘hijacked the campaign as a means to giving employment.’ The Provincial Chair ‘was allowed to use the campaign for his personal campaign.’ In the end the party spent two million dollars ‘dealing with youth and security problems and logistics instead of winning votes and getting voters to the voting stations.’ The report on the campaign concluded that:
The bulk of the youth are bad mannered, undisciplined, uncontrollable and only in it for the money. They left the premises and vehicles they used in a disgusting state and when asked to clean up said- ‘I am not the one’. 21
In a recent, useful study of political parties in Zimbabwe LeBas has analysed the context in which these organisational problems developed. She notes that given the changed political environment from 2000-2003 and the increased ruling party violence that characterised it ‘violence drove party activists into the cities, and formal party structures subsequently collapsed.’ Furthermore she observes that the ‘most immediate response to this problem was a turn from visible party structures to more amorphous, socially embedded networks.’22 Assessing the state of the party in the aftermath of the 2002 Presidential Election LeBas writes:
In a post-election report, the MDC’s organising department noted that party structures had ‘disintegrated’; further there was ‘very little or no activity’ by provincial structures, due in some cases to misappropriation of funds. Nor could the national executive remain well-informed about conditions outside Harare: an audit in late 2002 found that most provincial leaders were passing along false information about party structures and membership. Members of the national executive pointed to these problems to explain the failure of the planned post-election mass action, saying that it was simply lost in the party structures.23
This problem of adapting organisational structures to deal with state violence was not only faced by the MDC but also by key civic movements such as the NCA many of whose members also belonged to the MDC. Assessing the ‘mass action’ strategy adopted but the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) after 2000, and the violence that was sometimes used by its membership, McCandless concludes:
In the case of the NCA the research…indicates that the use of violent strategies (even if only by some of their members) undermines their message, which causes disaffection of important NCA constituencies. Moreover, it is ineffectual given their weak position vis-à-vis the violent capacity of the state.24
The major organisational response of the MDC to the repressive political environment was to create a parallel structure within the party. LeBas describes this as a ‘shadowy party structure, which would be designed to facilitate top-down organising and speedy response to orders from national leadership.’25 The activities of this structure not only resulted in major problems of accountability and violence within the party structures, but became a central site of struggle for the control of the party between the President and the Secretary General. The first major sign of the problems that were being caused by this parallel structure was the violence that occurred at the Party headquarters in 2004, specifically the beating up of party officials. One of the party officials that was affected by these disturbances, the Director of Security, testified to an internal Commission of Inquiry that this structure was formed by two of the Party Presidents’ aides, ‘as part of the mass action,’ and that over time this structure had ‘become a reliable source of force or militia for use in party struggles by unscrupulous politicians..’ The official also believed that there was a ‘tribal clique of people from Masvingo’ who were in control of the parallel structure and who, during the period of Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason trial,
…..strongly believed that the President would be convicted, leaving a vacuum which in their view must never be filled by a Ndebele person contrary to the MDC party constitutional provisions. Their argument was that even if the Vice-President were to take over, the fact that he stays in Bulawayo, the effective job of President would fall into the hands of Prof. Welshman Ncube. This imagination frightened them because for a long time they have been working on a programme to eliminate the Secretary General and those deemed as his surrogates.26
Others who gave evidence to this commission accused the Secretary General Welshman Ncube, of wanting to sabotage the project of removing Mugabe, and claimed that Ncube had a secret agenda to divide the party.’27 The report also implied that there were conflicts between the ‘professionals’ in the Secretary General’s department and the ‘quasi-professionals’ in the President’s office who believed that the Secretary General was ‘insubordinate to the President and is working to launch a new party.’ 28 Among the major findings of the report was the view that there is a ‘strong anti-Ndebele sentiment that has been propagated, orchestrated and instilled into the innocent party members’ minds by a senior party leader under the guise of sheer hatred for the Secretary General at a personal level.’29 One of the recommendations made by the commission was that:
An investigation into the plot by high-ranking officials around the President’s treason trial and the build-up to congress be put in place without delay with a view to establishing the extent to which ethnic hatred and division has damaged the party. Throughout this inquiry direct reference was made to senior leaders being involved in the promotion of tribalism. It is this commission’s conviction that those leaders mentioned must be given the opportunity to respond to such disturbing allegations and appropriate action taken without fear or favour.’30
The findings of this Commission were not made official within the party as the commissioners failed to agree on the final report. The factionalism that emerged in the party was reproduced on the Commission and effectively debilitated the finalisation of the report. Notwithstanding the draft nature of the report it did reveal the emergence of very serious cleavages in the party, around the President, Morgan Tsvangirai and the Secretary General, Welshman Ncube. Moreover these differences were being fed and exacerbated by the parallel structures within the party and constructed in both ethnic and at times ‘anti-intellectual’ terms.
In May 2005 new outbreaks of party violence took place at the Party Headquarters in Harare, the Bulawayo Provincial Office and in Gwanda, and another Commission was set up composed of the Management Committee. The new Commission noted that the 2004 Commission had ‘failed to reach a consensus and therefore no punishment had been meted out to the offenders.’ As a result most of the youths who led the disturbances from 12-17 May 2005, had previously, by their own admission, been responsible for the assault on the Director of Security in 2004. Once again aides in the President’s office were accused of directing the activities of the youth, and the objective of the violence was alleged to relate to the political battles leading up to the forthcoming national party congress. The allegations of the youth were that the ‘Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, members of staff were working to replace the President.’31 An important point made in the report was the danger of party functionaries mobilising unemployed youth to carry out party violence. It was further admitted that the party ‘has no capacity to satisfy youth welfare needs’ and that there is a ‘general lack of education and orientation on party objectives and values.’32 This point needs to be situated within the broader context of the culture of violence established and perpetuated by Zanu PF. The central findings of the report were:
* “It is common cause that the greater majority of our youths in our structures are activists and unemployed.”
* “They have no source of income, therefore they are destitute. This makes them vulnerable to political vultures who are cash driven.”
* “Staff, some party leaders and the external forces are using the youths for various political ambitions and devious goals.”
* “The party goal and values for which the MDC was founded have been abandoned in pursuit of narrow selfish, self-satisfying ambitions and greed.”
* “The congress agenda has hijacked the party focus.”
* “The issue of ethnic affinity is also being abused in the party to form divergent groupings.”
* “The notion that there are some who are more equal than others and falsely believe they are the only founders of the party, is a divisive issue.”
* “Competing interests of politicians are a threat to the very existence of the party.”33
As with the 2004 report there was little action taken on the issues raised, apart from the expulsion of several youth believed to have been responsible for the violence. There was no attempt to hold to account the senior party figures alleged to be the ‘handlers’ of these youth. The party’s legal spokesperson David Coltart complained about this failure in the report. In a statement to the National Executive of the party Coltart noted:
I cannot believe that the youths involved in these despicable acts acted independently. It is common cause that they were unemployed and it is equally clear that they had access to substantial funding. That money must have come from people with access to resources. The instructions to act must have come from people within the Party as no-one else would have the detailed knowledge the youths had access to. In expelling the youths and relatively low ranking members of the security team we have only dealt with the symptoms of the problem, not its root cause.34
Coltart also charged that it was ‘abundantly clear…that the Management Committee either did not manage to find out who instigated these acts of violence or it chose not to reveal those responsible’, and that whatever the case ‘there has been an inadequate investigation into who was behind the violence.’ Coltart then stated his explanation for the compromised nature of the report:
It is common cause that the principle reason behind the violence was an alleged power struggle within the Management Committee. For that reason alone the Management Committee should not have conducted the investigation. They were in fact judges in their own cause.35
Finally Coltart attempted to reassure Tsavangirai that his Secretary General, Welshman Ncube, had no ambition to replace him as President.
Within the MDC only Morgan Tsvangirai has sufficient stature to contest the presidency. Welshman Ncube knows that; I know that. Those within the party who seriously suggest that Morgan Tsvangirai’s presidency is under threat are either being deliberately mischievous or simply do not understand basic political reality within Zimbabwe.36
Discussions on these problems continued amongst the leadership at a management committee retreat in July 2005. Once again the issue of the parallel structure was raised and the allegation was made that a ‘kitchen cabinet’, made up of Presidential aides, had formed around the President and undermined the decisions of the elected leadership:
Members of the Management Committee explained that they felt decisions that were taken by the team were changed after the President consulted with members of his staff, or that staff counteracted their decisions, or took decisions that were beyond their ‘brief’ or job descriptions.37
It is important to note that these allegations were made by four of the six members of the Management Committee, namely the Vice President Gibson Sibanda, the Secretary General Welshman Ncube, the Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire and the National Treasurer Fletcher Dulini. Tsvangirai disagreed saying that these concerns over the ‘kitchen cabinet’ ‘were unsubstantiated…..due to rumour and miscommunication.’38 The Chair of the party Isaac Matongo, after some equivocation, lined up behind his President. Thus the division within the leadership appeared to be, and was constructed as, an ethnic divide with Tsvangirai’s critics, except for Chimanikire, coming from Matabeleland. At the July retreat the leadership were also fully aware that the party was losing political ground, and that ‘deep concerns about the MDC’s ability to lead itself, let alone compete effectively against the ruling party exist and are growing monthly.’ The leadership then agreed on the need to devise a programme of activities that would ‘demonstrate unity, build relationships amongst members of civil society, and create PR opportunities which contradict the consistent negative image of a fractured party.’39 The Management Committee also noted the central need to focus on the defeat of Zanu PF, because in the absence of this,
…………members are worrying about consolidating existing positions, and any future positions that maintain prestige or financial income. Although the situation internally is precarious, members can still derive status and income from positions within the MDC. The focus of maintaining these positions is distracting from commitment to the political struggle.40
While the MDC leadership had to deal with a growing factional struggle, it also had to continue to contend with the strategic difficulties of confronting the Mugabe regime. In the run up to the 2005 general election the leadership resolved that the election message had to change:
The debate on participation has revolved around the issues of governance. However, experience had shown that elections are won by focussing on bread and butter issues hence jobs and food had been put at the forefront of issues to be addressed by the Party. The immediate challenge was in essence to send the right message to the people that the MDC not only focuses on human rights and intellectual liberties but day to day issues.41
Moreover, given the limitations of electoral participation as a political strategy in the repressive political climate, the party needed to ‘strike a balance between voter expectations and the real situation on the ground’ Messages had to be communicated which did not create a ‘crisis of expectations’ and people had to be ‘psyched up for a bruising fight.’42 These statements represented the tension at the heart of the MDC strategic dilemma: A commitment to participate in elections, while recognising the limitations of this option, and preparing its support base for the limits of electoral politics while preparing for an alternative strategy based on mass action.
However, the problem has been that as MDC supporters have grown increasingly disillusioned with electoral politics, the party has been unable to develop a sustainable strategy for mass action. This problem has also been true of its civic partners such as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). In April 2005, soon after the MDC defeat in the general election Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Secretary General, Gift Chimanikire met with leaders from the NCA, the ZCTU and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition to discuss the way forward after another electoral defeat. The NCA in particular argued at the meeting that the MDC should not take up its seats in parliament, but instead concentrate on extra-parliamentary struggles, and stop sending confused signals to its support base. The MDC leadership pointed out that there was a strong lobby within the MDC advocating the importance of ‘occupying the democratic space in Parliament’, notwithstanding the limitations o the electoral process. While the MDC was still unsure of how to proceed, it was also clear that the civic groups had no clear alternative strategy beyond the broad call for mass action.43
In addition to these strategic and organisational challenges, the MDC has faced the problem of developing an inclusive, non-tribal and non-racial post-nationalist ideology, which was not a vulgar neo-liberalism. This has proved an exceedingly difficult challenge with the hazards of tribalism, as noted above, already apparent in the factional struggles within the party. The problem of developing a non-racial party has also proved extremely challenging. The ‘white face’ of the MDC has been heavily exploited by Zanu PF in a country and region where the memories of settler colonial rule are still fresh. This factor has also been an impediment in the mobilisation and media strategies of the MDC. In a post by-election campaign report in 2000, one party secretary made the following observation on the role of white members in MDC campaigns:
They must not involve themselves physically on the ground as has been the case. They should occupy the back seats so that Zanu (PF) does not see them. Zanu (PF) captures seats because it tells the people that the MDC is for the whitemen. Through ignorance the people believe and they vote Zanu (PF) in.44
While this problem was certainly not the same in all areas of the country, it is safe to say that it represented a general challenge for the MDC. White political participation in the politics of independent Zimbabwe was for most of this period marked by the racist legacy of settler politics, and the unofficial pact of the ruling party’s Reconciliation Policy. This provided for whites to continue playing a key role in the economy, while having to vacate the political sphere, aside from participation through their various economic lobbying groups. The emergence of the constitutional movement and the MDC, and the major challenge these represented to the ruling party, provided new spaces for the involvement of whites in the political arena. The land occupations and their direct threat to private property rights certainly provided a strong impetus for involvement. However the inclusive language of the opposition, which appeared in stark contrast to the exclusive racialised discourse of Zanu PF, also provided an invitation to non-racial politics. The following extract is an example of how one individual responded:
The advent of the No Vote was a watershed in the history of Zimbabwe. Zanu PF and its agents pitched a massive Vote Yes campaign along racial lines with prominent newspaper advertisements like a photograph of two elderly whites with the question “Are you going to allow them to continue to tell you what to do?” The people, the overwhelming majority of them blacks, rejected this propaganda, and in doing so showed just how politically mature they have become, but most importantly to me, sent out a clear signal that racism is not the burning issue that Zanu PF wants it to be. Being part of the white minority which is constantly used as a punch bag by the President when things go wrong, and with it the ill feeling, the No Vote came as an emotional triumph.45
This euphoric embrace of the politics of the opposition demonstrated both a lack of historical perspective on the continuing resonance of race in a post settler society and the sense of victim-hood which had begun to mark the narratives of white discourse after 2000, in particular. Harris describes this aspect of white narratives in Zimbabwe as follows:
Mugabe’s revocation of the discourses of reconciliation has allowed for a white re-imagining of the past that…..exculpates white Zimbabwean involvement in racial tensions through dehistoricising that white identity.46
Dealing with the weight of such racial legacies in the MDC structures has been immensely difficult. While the MDC has been the party most committed to non-racialism in Zimbabwean politics, the deepening crisis within the party has resulted in less inclusive forms of politics. This has been the result both of the withdrawal of white, particularly white farmer, involvement in the party following the increased violence of the state, and an attempt to deal with the labelling of the MDC as a ‘white controlled’ party. There is also an important sense in which Mugabe’s anti-white message resonates with members of the MDC in the context of the legacies of racism in Zimbabwe. In a critique of the party structures carried out in 2005, the MDC leadership itself viewed the party as having ‘moved away from its social democratic, all inclusive, non-tribalistic foundations.’47 Thus it is clear that one of the responses of the MDC to the authoritarian nationalism of Zanu PF has been a more guarded approach towards its public racial profile,48 and a greater sensitivity to the ruling party’s accusations of foreign domination of opposition politics.
As the organisational and strategic problems deepened in the MDC, the factional struggles within the party intensified. For those in the leadership who were connected to or controlled the parallel structure, the latter became the means for isolating the members of the leadership opposed to Tsvangirai in the run up to the proposed national congress in 2006. Most of the energies of these structures have thus been turned on those perceived as enemies within the party, rather than to developing a strategy to confront the Mugabe regime. The last attempt to organise a mass Stay Away on the 9-10th June 2005 by the MDC and its civic partners, constituted as a Broad Alliance, proved a dismal failure. Commenting on the role of the MDC in this action, Atwood has written:
The MDC’s involvement in the action was…half-hearted. In the run up to June 9 and 10, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement urging the people to “mobilise themselves,” and warning government that if it continued with Operation Murambatsvina, the people’s reaction might be unpredictable. When questioned MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube distanced the organisation from the activities of the Broad Alliance. Like the ZCTU, the MDC was at the time mired in its own internal commission of inquiry regarding cases of indiscipline and fracturing party unity. It did not take a strong leadership role in coordinating the call to mass action.49
This failure was particularly apparent in the light of the government’s Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005, which constituted a brutal attack on the livelihoods of a large section of urban workers, the major constituency of the MDC. Thus for Ncube and his supporters the use of the parallel structures within the party has been understood as largely a means of isolating and pushing them out of leadership positions at the next congress. It is against this background that the fateful debate over participation in the Senate elections in 2005 took place.
The Senate Debate and the Split in the MDC.
The issue that brought matters to a head in the MDC was the decision on whether or not to participate in the Senate election in late 2005. Mugabe’s major reasons for re-introducing the senate into the political sphere were, both to accommodate those in the ruling party who had lost in the parliamentary elections, and to exacerbate to divisions within the MDC, divisions that had been actively cultivated by Zanu PF. To many observers the senate debate first appeared as a fairly innocuous issue which would be resolved within the MDC’s top six and National Council. However, given the growing conflict and division within the MDC, the Senate question became the central battleground of the leadership for the control of the party. On October 12th 2005, after the top six leadership had failed to find a consensus on the issue, the MDC National Council voted 33-31 (with 2 spoilt papers) to participate in the Senate elections. Tsvangirai’s response to the vote was:
Well you have voted, and you have voted to participate, which as you know is against my own wish. In the circumstances I can no longer continue……No I cannot let you participate in this senate election when I believe that it is against the best interests of the party. I am President of this party. I am therefore going out of this and (will) announce to the world that the MDC will not participate in this election. If the party breaks so be it. I will answer to congress.50
The MDC President then left the National Council meeting and soon after held a press conference at which he misinformed the media that the National Council vote was deadlocked at 50-50, and that he had then used his casting vote to decide against senatorial participation. Following this meeting the Deputy President of the party, Gibson Sibanda, wrote to Tsvangirai summoning him to a hearing of the National Disciplinary Committee on the charge that because of his actions at and after the National Council meeting of October 12th, Tsvangirai had wilfully violated clauses 4.4 (a), 6.1.1 (a) and (d) of the MDC constitution as well as clause 9.2 of the Party’s Disciplinary Code of Conduct. Sibanda’s letter also stated that Tsvangirai had further violated the above clauses after the meeting of the 12th by:
* “Writing to all party provincial chairpersons on the 13th October 2005 instructing them to ignore a letter written by the Party’s Deputy Secretary General instructing provinces to commence selectivity of candidates.”
* “Writing to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on 14th October 2005 falsely advising that the MDC had resolved not to participate in the senate elections and calling upon the Commission to register as Independents all MDC candidates that would offer themselves to contest the election.”
* Addressing numerous rallies and meetings in various places throughout Zimbabwe urging members and supporters of the party to boycott the senate elections, contrary to the resolution of the National Council.”
* “Instructing the party secretariat to re-employ Nhamo Musekiwa and Washington Gaga after they had been dismissed pursuant to a National Council resolution. In doing so you acted in violation of a standing resolution of the National Council contrary to clauses 4.4 (a) and 6.1.1 (d) of the party constitution.”51
On the same day another letter was written to Tsvangirai informing him that the National Disciplinary Committee had met on the 20th November and resolved to suspend him from his position as President of the party with immediate effect pending his appearance before the Disciplinary Committee on misconduct charges. The letter also instructed Tsvangirai that he was barred from holding, addressing or attending any meetings, rallies or functions organised under the name of the MDC, that he should not visit the party headquarters, regional, provincial or district offices and that he should surrender all party property except the two vehicles issued for his use.52
In response to these events Morgan Tsvangirai stated that the pro-senate group had ‘already prepared the votes, the ballots and they had bought a lot of people,’ and also accused his opponents of not carrying out legitimate provincial consultations.53 Moreover in response to the legal arguments of his opponents, and accusations that he had ‘refused to respect the founding values of the party’54, Tsvangirai pitched his arguments at a populist level, arguing that his position on the senate expressed the will of the people:
Even if I am left alone, I will not betray the contract I made with the people. The issue that is there is not about the senate only. It is about whether you want to confront Mugabe or you want to compromise with Mugabe. Some of us are now working towards a new unity accord. We are saying ‘no’ to unity accord number two. With us there is no unity accord….we will not do what Nkomo did.55
In this statement the MDC leader was not only identifying his views with ‘the people’, he was also appealing to the sentiments of the people of Matabeleland by distancing himself from the possibility of another unpopular ‘Unity Accord’, and portraying the pro-senate faction as betraying the people of this region. This message was emphasised by the MDC party chair, Isaac Matongo, who accused the Ncube faction of complicity with Zanu PF, stating that the latter wanted to ‘see Tsvangirai out and then put someone who could play to the Zanu PF tune.’56 The debate over the senate became an ugly public spectacle carried out in the state-controlled and private press, and characterised by disturbing levels of character assassination on both sides. Accusations and counter-accusations of corruption,57 violence,58 tribalism59 and complicity with the ruling party were thrown about liberally. Moreover in a further ironic twist the internal battles in the MDC have ended up in the courts of the Mugabe regime.60
As the leadership struggle continued Tsvangirai expelled the ‘Senate rebels’ from the party61 and convened another National Council meeting which passed a resolution to nullify the disciplinary proceedings instituted against the MDC leader, and ‘dissociating the rest of the party from Gibson Sibanda and others.’62 The response from the major civic groups to the party struggles has largely been in support of the Tsvangirai position. The boycott of elections coincided with the long-term position of the NCA, while the ZCTU denounced the ‘creation of the Senate and urges all workers to oppose it with all their might.’63 The ZCTU paper The Worker made its editorial position clear:
Now the onus is on the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to reject taking part in the senate election. All civic organisations have rejected the constitutional amendments. The MDC did reject them in Parliament and if they want to be taken seriously, they should not take part in elections. Zimbabweans should also stay home during elections to show their displeasure over the government action.64
Thus for both factions in the MDC the senate debate took on a wider and more intense significance. For Tsvangirai and the anti-senate campaigners, the boycott campaign was important for several reasons. Firstly Tsvangirai’s political base within the party was increasingly organised through the parallel structure and the ‘kitchen cabinet’ against those in the top six of the leadership who were thought to be contesting his leadership. These structures had been built, outside of the control of the Management Committee of the party, both to develop alternative mass action responses to Mugabe’s rule and to avoid having to deal with the Secretary General’s office. There was thus a reluctance to make them accountable to an electoral strategy under the top six. Secondly, after another electoral defeat in the 2005 general election the MDC was under growing pressure to provide an alternative response to the Mugabe regime, or face the prospect of political irrelevance. Thirdly Tsvangirai felt that his views resonated with most of the party’s support base in believing that there was little point in pursuing electoral politics under the present conditions in Zimbabwe. It is in this context that Tsvangirai called for the boycott of the senate elections and stated:
The Zimbabwean struggle needs a paradigm shift. Parliament cannot be the main arena of our struggle. Our experience in Parliament since 2000 shows that the struggle resides outside ZANU PF.65
For the opposing faction the decision to campaign for participation in the senate election was based firstly on their unwillingness to surrender political strategy to what was thought to be Tsvangirai’s ‘thuggish’ parallel structures, working against Welshman Ncube, Gift Chimanikire and others in this faction. Secondly this group argued both that the people of Matabeleland would not agree to ceding political ground to the ruling party without a fight, and that in any case the anti-senate argument presented no viable alternative strategy to participation in the elections. Ncube’s reluctance to engage with mass action strategies was thus based not only on the belief that the parallel structures were working outside of party accountability through parallel funding, but also that they were not able to develop organised mass action activities in any coherent form. In short they were both unaccountable and ineffective and only ended up exposing the party’s elected structures to state harassment.66 It was against this background that Ncube declared:
There is no other way of removing Robert Mugabe except through elections. Anyone who tells you the other way is cheating you. Even if Zanu PF says there is an election for a toilet caretaker we will participate.67
By February 2006 it was clear that the division in the MDC had solidified and the split in the party would be formalised at the two forthcoming congresses of the different factions. It is also clear from the analysis in this paper that the senate issue, that provided the pretext for the party divide, was not in itself the fundamental cause of the problems in the MDC. It was merely the site on which the different factions fought out long-standing problems of organisation, structure, accountability and strategy within the party. At the mediation meeting held in October 2005 to try to resolve the party crisis there was a consensus amongst the leadership that the senate issue was a ‘tactical difference’ and ‘a symptom of a disease.’
In the discussions that ensued at this meetings the issues raised centred around the problem of the parallel structure, the ‘mafia kitchen cabinet’, the growth of youth violence, attacks on the authority of the President, conflict and competition between the offices of the Presidency and the Secretary General with the resulting lack of implementation of party programmes, Tsvangirai’s perception of the ‘destructive’ effects of President Mbeki’s mediation efforts, infiltration by the regime’s Central Intelligence Organisation, and the perception that the division over the senate was based on tribal affiliation in the party. There was of course a different emphasis on which problems had proved to be most destructive, with Tsvangirai stressing the undermining effects of the Secretary General’s office and arguing that the ‘consensus leadership’ at the top was not the most effective way to confront an authoritarian regime. Alternately Ncube and three other members of the top six concentrated on the destructive effects of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ and the parallel structure on the elected structures of the party.
At the end of the first meeting a compromise position was placed on the negotiation table, which included the following positions: Firstly the pro-senate faction would withdraw from the senate election; secondly the Management committee would deal with the problem of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ and the parallel structure; thirdly the leadership would draw up a programme on the way forward. Moreover, henceforth the public recriminations from both sides were to cease. These issues were due to constitute the agenda for the next meeting and were to be kept strictly confidential. The day after this meeting full details of the discussion appeared on the front page of the Independent newspaper. At the second mediation meeting which lasted forty five minutes, both sides refused to shift from their positions, with Tsvangirai unwilling to make a commitment on the problem of his aides and the pro-senate faction unwilling to go back on the senate issue.
The lack of trust within the leadership was all pervasive, and it was clear that both sides were at this point committed to a split in the party. However it was also clear that neither faction had developed effective strategies to confront the Mugabe government and also that both would have to face the difficult task of once again developing the national constituencies that the united MDC had once claimed. For the anti-senate group the challenge would be to win over the Matabeleland region, while for their opponents the lack of a credible Shona leader would constitute a huge limitation in their efforts to develop a national profile.68
A great deal of commentary has been dedicated to the break up of the MDC. Within Zimbabwe the state media has wallowed in a sense of glib satisfaction and an endless stream of false retrospective ‘wisdom’. The country’s independent press and the internet news sources have staked their factional claims in the ongoing controversy. However one of the issues that both the state and independent media have concurred on is that the MDC crisis emerged because of a lack of good leadership and ideological unity.69 While the opposition has certainly displayed leadership problems and faces a huge challenge in constituting an ideological unity, these are not problems peculiar to the MDC. The history of nationalist politics was characterised by its own leadership deficiencies and ideological struggles.
Moreover ideological unity can only be constructed through long-term struggles and the project, though at certain historical moments contingently stable, is never complete. The challenge of the MDC has been to break the disciplinary hold of the nationalist legacy and to develop a more democratic, inclusive and plural discourse that is able to confront both national authoritarianism and international dictat. This is the challenge for any progressive movement in the contemporary world, and it is one that the MDC made important progress on at national level. At continental level the opposition party has had much more difficulty in presenting itself as a progressive force against Mugabe’s Pan Africanist rhetorical stance. Its limitations at this level have decreased the terrain on which it has been able to operate and develop its vision.
More recently the split in the MDC has bred speculation that the division has emerged because of ideological differences between the more ‘radical populist’ anti-senate faction and the pro-senate ‘neo-liberals.’ There is little evidence that this is the case with both factions espousing broad social democratic positions and both likely to adopt some form of neo-liberal economic recovery policy. Nevertheless the challenge of developing ideological consistency in the party and the various ideological trends apparent in its pronouncements, have caused problems for both the supporters of the MDC and those commenting on its activities.
Notwithstanding these limitations the central fact of the MDC crisis is that it has taken place in an authoritarian national political culture that has persistently closed down the spaces for democratic growth. The loss of three national elections under these conditions, and the fact that the MDC has not been able to successfully challenge these fraudulent elections has led to increasing frustration in both the leadership and general membership of the party. The corrosive effects of this persistent defeat would be enough to challenge the future of most opposition parties. The fact that Zanu PF has conducted its authoritarian politics under a populist anti-colonial and anti-imperialist banner has provided little solace to those forces in Zimbabwe struggling for more open national political spaces.
The broader national and international context of the Zimbabwe crisis has been discussed elsewhere.70 This dimension has clearly played an important role in shaping the politics of Zanu PF. External forces have also shaped the form of the debacle in the MDC. Ill conceived international alliances and reports of dubious funding by, and advice from, right wing organisations such as the International Republican Institute and Freedom House71 are likely to have had their effects on the strategies and leadership stances taken in the party. Moreover the impact of South African interventions in the MDC has yet to be fully explored.
What is clear thus far is that the SA presidency has had serious doubts about the capacity of the MDC to develop a national government and to gain the confidence of the Zimbabwean armed forces, and these factors have underlay the push by the SA government for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. Moreover President Mbeki’s dealings with the leadership of the MDC have also contributed to the growing distrust between the two factions within the party, with Morgan Tsvangirai feeling increasingly distrustful of the South African leader’s relationship with the Ndebele leaders in the MDC.
This paper has not addressed these wider concerns and future discussions will need to penetrate this important dimension. At present there is much speculation but little evidence produced in the discussion of this factor, but clearly there are disturbing questions that need to be answered. This discussion has concentrated on the internal factors in the MDC crisis and both the strengths and weaknesses of the paper stem from this emphasis. Nevertheless it is hoped that the paper has provided a more informed basis for discussion of the crisis in Zimbabwe’s major opposition party. At present the future of opposition politics in Zimbabwe appears bleak, with neither side in the MDC offering a viable strategy to confront the ruling party. This current malaise in opposition politics is likely to have a broader dampening effect on the politics of civil society at a time when the major civic group are themselves struggling to survive state repression and general public despondency. The challenge for opposition forces is now to rethink and reconfigure the organisational structures and strategic interventions that are needed both to confront a repressive regime and build a sustainable alternative, democratic culture. In this difficult process the lessons learnt from the fracturing of the MDC will be invaluable.
POSTSCRIPT: APRIL 2006
This paper was written prior to the formal split in the MDC which took place after the two factions held their respective congresses in February and March 2006. In the light of the split with Tsvangirai, and given the ethnic dynamic of Zimbabwean politics, the pro-senate faction was forced to look for an electable Shona leader to oppose both Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Given the lack of a suitable candidate within the existing ranks of the pro-senate faction, the latter looked to a candidate outside of the existing leadership structure and elected Arthur Mutambara, a university professor and former leading student leader in the 1980’s. From his election speech it was clear that Mutambara was keen to appropriate the language of radical nationalism that had been seen as the preserve of Mugabe and his party, and attempt link it to the discourse of human rights and democratic accountability that had dominated the language of opposition and civic politics since the 1990’s. Mutambara set out his vision in the following terms:
We stand opposed to any form of imperialism, violation of state human rights and unlilateralism. We will not accept assistance at the expense of our dignity, values and sovereignty. We make a clear distinction between strategic partners and political allies.
We are anti-imperialist, driven by nationalist interest and informed by Pan African ideals. I do not believe in sanctions.72
Mutambara was also keen to establish the links between the struggles of the MDC and the legacy of the liberation struggle:
We are also coming in with the tradition of the liberation war recognising the role played by people like Chitepo, Tongogara, Nikita Mangena and John Nkomo. No one owns the history of the liberation struggle. We are coming in the tradition of ZANLA and ZIPRA fighters.73
For the future it will be interesting to assess the ways in which Mutambara is able to manage the discursive and strategic tensions in a political project that requires the need for both a radical anti-imperialist stance and a commitment to the civic struggles around democratisation and human rights. It is however important that this project be attempted given the distortions in Mugabe’s severing of the two discourses. At the very least Mutambara’s new political language is an important new development on the Zimbabwean political landscape.
For Tsvangirai and his camp the importance of their congress was to show the support of large numbers of the MDC constituency, and to consolidate the power of the presidency in the party structures. In his opening speech Tsvangirai acknowledged the contribution of the pro-senate leadership:
Allow me to note the work done by my colleagues who have chosen not to be with us today but who pioneered and contributed to the growth of the MDC and this democracy project with us for many years. Thanks you for risking life and limb to try and rebuild Zimbabwe. We have not forgotten that contribution.74
Tsvangirai’s speech also stressed the importance of ‘peaceful democratic resistance’. He declared:
The options open to us are very clear. We need a short sharp programme of action to free ourselves. The call is made to you once again to intensify the peaceful democratic resistance to the current tyranny. Your resilience to reclaim your rights has shaken Mugabe’s corridors of power.75
Notwithstanding the declarations of both MDC parties, the strategic, organisational and ideological challenges that have been discussed in this paper remain in different ways for both sides. The hard work of rebuilding an effective opposition to confront Mugabe’s authoritarian regime remains to be done, even as the latter puts in place further legislation on communications surveillance of its citizenry, and an anti-terrorist law constructed largely to further criminalise the activities of the opposition.
1 Amanda Hammar, Brian Raftopoulos and Stig Jensen (Eds), Zimbabwe’s Unfinished Business: Rethinking Land, State and Citizenship in the Context of Crisis, Weaver Press, Harare, 2003; Brian Raftopoulos and Tyrone Savage (Eds), Zimbabwe : Injustice and Political Reconciliation, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Weaver Press, Cape Town and Harare, 2004; Terence Ranger, “ Nationalist Historiography, Patriotic History and the History of the Nation: the Struggle over the Past in Zimbabwe,” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol 30, No 2, June 2004, pp215-234.
2 See Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1996.
3 Masipula Sithole, ‘Zimbabwe: In Search of a Stable Democracy,’ in Larry Diamond, J.J. Linz and S.M. Lipset (Eds) Democracy in Developing Countries: Volume 2: Africa, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, 1988; also his “ Zimbabwe’s Eroding Authoritarianism,” Journal of Democracy, Vol 8, No 1, 1997, pp127-141; Jonathan Moyo, “ Civil Society in Zimbabwe”, Zambezia, xx, (i), 1993, pp 1-13; Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, ‘Putting People First- from Regime Security to Human Security: A Quest for Social Peace in Zimbabwe, 1980-2002,’ in Alfred G. Nhema, The Quest for Peace in Africa, International Books with OSSREA, Addis Ababa, 2004, pp. 297- 327; Eldred Masunungure, ‘Travails of Opposition Politics in Zimbabwe since Independence,’ in David Harold Barry (Eds), Zimbabwe: The Past is the Future, Weaver Press, Harare, 2004, pp. 147- 192.
4 David Moore, ‘The ideological formation of the Zimbabwean ruing class,’ Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol, No. 3, 1991, pp. 472-495; David Moore, ‘Democracy, violence and identity in the Zimbabwean war of national liberation: Reflections from the realms of dissent,’ Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol, 29, No. 3, pp. 375-402;
5 The struggles within Zanu have been well described by the recent autobiography of Fay Chung, Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, Nordic Africa Institute and Weaver Press, Uppsala and Harare, 2006.
6 Ndlovu-Gatsheni op cit, p306.
7 Sara Rich Dorman, “Inclusion and Exclusion: NGOs and Politics in Zimbabwe”. D.Phil. Degree, University of Oxford, 2001.
8 Jonathan Moyo, Voting for Democracy: Electoral Politics in Zimbabwe, Harare, University of Zimbabwe Publications, 1992.
9 John Makumbe and Daniel Compagnon, Behind the Smokescreen: The Politics of Zimbabwe’s 1995 General Election. Harare, University of Zimbabwe, 2000.
10 Eldred Masunugure, op cit, p165.
11 Masungure op cit, and Brian Raftopoulos, ‘The Labour Movement and the Emergence of Opposition Politics,’ in Brian Raftopoulos and Lloyd Sachikonye (Eds), Striking Back: The Labour Movement and the Post-Colonial State, Harare, Weaver Press, 2001, pp. 1-24.
12 Liisa Laakso, “Opposition Politics in Independent Zimbabwe”, African Studies Review, 3,30,2004, p. 13.
13 MDC Strategic Meeting, Harare, 6th January 2000. Present at the meeting were Morgan Tsvangirai (President), Gibson Sibanda (Vice President), Welshman Ncube (Secretary General), Fletcher Dulini (National Treasurer), and Gift Chimanikire (Deputy Secretary General). This became known as the Top Six Management Committee.
15 MDC Strategy Paper, April 2000.
17 Strategy Update, 8th May 2000.
18 Strategic Planning Meeting, 6th March 2001.
19 MDC Strategic Paper April 2000.
20 MDC District Workshop, 19th August 2000. In attendance were the following branches: Mbare 1, Mbare 2, Mbare 3, Waterfalls, Highfield and Harare Province.
21 Memorandum: Marondera Campaign, from Topper Whitehead to the Election Director, 1st December 2000.
22 Adrienne Lebas, “Polarisation and Party Development: Capturing Constituencies in Democratising Africa,” Draft P.HD Dissertation, Columbia University August 2005, pp183-184.
23 Ibid, p186.
24 Erin McCandless, “Zimbabwean Forms of Resistance: Social Movements, Strategic Dilemmas and Transformative Change,” P.HD, American University, Washington, 2005, p 584.
25 LeBas op cit p 187.
26 Commission of Inquiry into Disturbances at Party Headquarters (Draft Report), December 2004, pp. 4-5. The Commissioners were Dr. Tichanona Mudzingwa, the Hon. Miles Mutsekwa and the Hon. Moses Mzila-Ndlovu.
27 Ibid p. 20.
28 Ibid pp. 27-28.
29 Ibid p31.
30 Ibid pp. 32-33.
31 Report of the Management Committee of an Inquiry into the Disturbances and Beatings at Harvest House, Bulawayo Provincial Office and in Gwanda at the late Masera’s Funeral. 2005, p. 6.
32 Ibid p12.
33 Ibid, p16.
34 David Coltart, “Statement of David Coltart: MDC National Executive Meeting: 15th July 2005.”
37 Report of the Management Committee Meeting, 30th July 2005, Pretoria.
41 Report of the Strategic Planning Meeting, 21-22 January 2005, Cape Town.
43 Author’s notes from the Meeting between Morgan Tsvangirai and Gift Chimanikire (MDC) and leaders of the NCA, ZCTU and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, held in Harare, 6th April 2005.
44 Report from the MDC Secretary, Mashonaland East, 26t November 2000.
45 “Clear Choice”: Letter from Bill Searle a businessman and member of the MDC support group in 2000, firstname.lastname@example.org Nd. Another example of this kind of sentiment was a letter from an additional member of the MDC support group, businessman Topper Whitehead: “I have never involved myself in politics because like most whites, I did not believe there was any hope of having an influence on the way I would like to see things. I have now involved myself as I believe I can help change things, and let me state clearly I have no intention of standing for office or to be elected for any post.” email@example.com Nd.
46 Ashleigh Harris, ‘Writing Home: Inscriptions of whiteness/descriptions of belonging in white memoir-autobiography,’ in Robert Muponde and Ranka Primorac (Eds) Versions of Zimbabwe: New Approaches to literature and culture. Harare, Weaver Press, 2005, p107.
47 Report of the MDC Management Committee Meeting, 30th July 2005.
48 One recent vehement assertion of this was made by Job Sikhala, the MDC MP for St. Marys. In the course a newspaper interview with the government controlled Herald Sikhala pointed to the problem of race as one of the consequences of the MDC’s broad alliance of social forces. Referring to one of the key white figures in the MDC Sikhala complained that in the MDC alliance ‘we had people like Eddie Cross, who is a white supremacist, an ardent follower of Rhodesian fundamentalism who believes that everything begins and ends with Rhodesia.’ “Kitchen cabinet destroyed MDC: Sikhala.” Herald, 7th January 2006.
49 Amanda Atwood, ‘Stay-Away 9-10 June 2005: Some Lessons Learned.’ Unpub. Mimeo 2005, p4. “Operation Murambatsvina” refers to the government’s widely condemned urban ‘clean up’ campaign carried out in May 2005.
50 Trudy Stevenson, ‘MDC’s October 12 Meeting-the facts’. Zimbabwe Independent 13th January 2006.
51 Letter from Gibson Sibanda, Vice President of the MDC to Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the MDC, 24th November 2005.
52 Letter from Gibson Sibanda to Morgan Tsvangirai, 24th November 2005.
53 Violet Gonda, ‘Hot Seat Programme: Tsvangirai says vote buying and self interest swung MDC senate vote.’ firstname.lastname@example.org 18th October 2005.
54 This is a statement from the Deputy Secretary General of the party, Gift Chimanikire quoted in Caesar Zvayi, ‘Tsvangirai a dictator: MDC faction.’ Herald 1st November 2005.
55 ‘Tsvangirai says faction working with Zanu PF.’ The Daily Mirror, 31st October 2005.
56 Walter Marwizi, ‘Plot to oust Tsvangirai,’ The Standard, 20th November 2005.
57 “MDC falls apart: Tsvangirai’s financial dealings in ZCTU, Ben-Menashe saga exposed.” Herald 14th November 2005.
58 “Bid to block Tsvangirai rally flops.” The Daily Mirror, 10th November 2005.
59 This accusation was fuelled by a report that the Deputy President of the MDC, Gibson Sibanda, was alleged to have advocated for an independent state for Ndebele speaking people. At a campaign rally Sibanda is alleged to have said: 'Ndebeles can only exercise sovereignty through creating their state like Lesotho, which is an independent state in South Africa and it is not politically wrong to have the state of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe.’ “Sibanda calls for Ndebele State”, Daily Mirror 8th November 2005. Pro-senate MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyati denied the report saying that ‘not only is the allegation untrue, it also appears to be a deliberate attempt by the newspaper to fan ethnic tensions in the MDC and the country as a whole.’ The Independent 18th November 2005.
60 The most recent example is that the pro-senate faction has filed a Z$100 billion dollar suit against Tsvangirai for allegedly accusing them of colluding with Zanu PF to assassinate the MDC leader. Njabulo Ncube, “The saga continues… Tsvangirai files notice of appeal.” Financial Gazette 2-8 February 2006.
61 “Tsvangirai expels Senate ‘rebels.’” The Sunday Mail 13th November 2005.
62 The MDC National Council Meeting and Resolutions, 1st December 2005.
63 “ZCTU Position on Senate Elections.” Sunday Mirror 20th November 2005.
64 Comment: “Boycott Senate Elections.” The Worker September 2005.
65 Morgan Tsvangirai, “Senate: what is in it for the people?” The Financial Gazette, 29th October 2005.
66 Report on the MDC Management Committee Meeting, Pretoria, 30th July 2005.
67 “Elections only way to dislodge Zanu PF: Ncube.” Daily Mirror, 4th January 2005.
68 This writer was the mediator at the two meeting of the top six and the details of the two paragraphs above are taken from the writers notes on the meetings of the Management Committee held on the 26th and 31st October 2005.
69 As examples see, Robert Mukondiwa, “MDC death: The post-mortem”, The Sunday Mail, 20th November 2005, and Dumisani Muleya “MDC’s problem is lack of ideology”, The Zimbabwe Independent 4th November 2005. Jonathan Moyo, one time government critic turned state propagandist and now leader of a new party, the United People’s Movement, has made the same point: “…infighting within the MDC was bound to take place ever since the party was formed in 1999 as the ideological question facing it, arising from not having a shared ideology was not whether such a fight would happen but when. The proposition that the root cause of the infighting is because of a lack of a common ideology shared by the MDC leadership is demonstrated by the fact that the infighting is very personalised and when it is not, the issues at stake are procedural and not substantive.” “MDC infighting was bound to take place.” The Zimbabwe Independent, 4th November 2005.
70 Hammar, Raftopoulos and Jensen 2003 op cit; Brian Raftopoulos and Ian Phimister, “ Zimbabwe Now: The Political Economy of Crisis and Coercion,” Historical Materialism, Vol 12, No Issue 4, 2004, pp. 355-382; Ian Phimister and Brian Raftopoulos, “Mugabe, Mbeki and the Politics of Anti-imperialism,” Review of African Political Economy, 101, 2004, pp 385-400.
71 The Herald reported that Morgan Tsvangirai and eight top officials his faction were deported from Zambia on the 2nd February 2005 after meeting with representative of Freedom House and losing Zambian presidential candidate Anderson Mazoka. “ Zambia deports Tsvangirai”, Herald 3rd February 2005.
72 Nkululeko Sibanda, “Mutambara attacks Britain.” The Daily Mirror, 27th February 2006.
73 “Mutambara calls for MDC re-unification”. The Daily Mirror, 14th March 2006.
74 Foster Dongozi and Valentine Maponga, “15000 attend MDC congress.” The Standard 19-25th March 2006.